Date
19 July 2018
Zhao Leji (third left), a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, speaks at a gathering of Hong Kong and Macau delegates to the CPPCC in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: China News Service
Zhao Leji (third left), a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, speaks at a gathering of Hong Kong and Macau delegates to the CPPCC in Beijing on Sunday. Photo: China News Service

Won’t allow any challenge on HK ‘bottom line’: China official

A top Beijing official warned on Sunday that the central government will never tolerate any attempts to jeopardize national sovereignty, challenge its power or question its rights over Hong Kong.

Zhao Leji, Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, said at a gathering in Beijing that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy should not be misused by anyone to harm China’s national interests.  

Addressing Hong Kong and Macau delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, Zhao used the opportunity to warn that any bid to fight or question the central government’s comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong is absolutely not allowed.

During the gathering, which was part of deliberations of the 13th National Committee of the CPPCC that began on Saturday and will last until March 15, the Chinese official said the “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, must be understood properly, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Three CPPCC national committee vice-chairmen — Tung Chee-hwa, Leung Chun-ying and Edmund Ho Hau-wah — were among those who were present at the meeting, which was also attended by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; and Wang Zhimin, director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

Zhao, the CCDI head, made a rare appearance in a meeting of this kind as he made a speech and addressed the delegates.

According to HKEJ, which cited some unidentified delegates, Zhao stressed that using Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as a cover to infiltrate or sabotage the mainland will mean touching Beijing’s “bottom line”, and that such activities won’t be allowed.

But Zhao did not mention anything explicitly about Hong Kong independence activities or potential legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law, which requires Hong Kong to enact national security laws.

The anti-corruption czar, meanwhile, reiterated Beijing’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” principle, saying it is the best option to keep Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and the ultimate means to solve some problems left over by history.

Zhao said the “one country, two systems” ensured that Hong Kong was able to maintain healthy economy and stable growth despite multiple shocks after the 1997 handover, such as the 2008 financial crisis.

The Chinese official added that “one country” is the basis of “two systems”, describing the former as root and the latter as leaves, which can only be lush with a deep root.

Beijing’s effective governance and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy should not be in confronting positions while Hong Kong is not totally autonomous, according to Zhao.

While being optimistic about Hong Kong’s prospects, Zhao said he wants the territory to enhance cooperation and exchanges with the mainland to speed up integration with the nation’s economy.

Hong Kong must put its advantages into full play to resolve its problems as the city continues to face chronic and deep-rooted contradictions in its economy and society, he said.

After the meeting, Chen Sixi, Deputy Director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Macau, told media that the former Portuguese colony must continue to be on high alert as some external forces were trying to bring the ideology of Hong Kong independence into Macau.

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TL/JC/RC

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