A senior Beijing official said acts aimed at achieving Hong Kong independence must be punished in accordance with the law, adding that both the Hong Kong SAR and central authorities must have “zero tolerance” for them.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO), made the remarks during a meeting in Beijing on Thursday with a Hong Kong delegation comprising senior news executives of local media outlets, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Siu Sai-Wo, Sing Tao News Corp. executive director who led the delegation, said after the meeting that Zhang expressed his support for the HKSAR government’s decisions to outlaw the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party and deny the application for renewal of the work visa of Victor Mallet, Financial Times’ Asia news editor and first vice-president of Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC).
Zhang was also quoted as saying that since Hong Kong returned to China 21 years ago, the Basic Law has not been fully implemented because the government has still not passed national security laws the city has the constitutional responsibility to enact under Article 23 of the law, although he acknowledged Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s stance on the issue.
According to a statement issued by his office after the meeting, Zhang told the group that any freedom is not absolute, and any freedom must only be exercised on the premise that no law is broken, and no harm to national security, social order, public safety and others’ rights and freedoms is caused.
The former chief of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong noted that the “one country, two systems” principle has proved a great success, with the capitalist system and way of life in the city still unchanged, as Hong Kong residents enjoy fundamental rights and well-protected freedoms in accordance with the laws.
However, there are an extremely small number of people in Hong Kong who refuse to recognize “one country” but only talk about “two systems” or even “one system”, Zhang said.
As such, Zhang warned that acts aimed at achieving Hong Kong independence must be subject to legal punishments from the perspective of safeguarding national security and territorial integrity, Hong Kong people’s fundamental interests and the rule of law.
Unlawful acts should not be mixed up with freedoms of expression and press, Zhang stressed.
Meanwhile, Siu told reporters he’s not aware that his company had received any instruction from the liaison office to remove reports regarding remarks made by the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department Huang Kunming.
Siu quoted Huang as saying on Tuesday that he hoped Hong Kong media “would not become a base for interfering with mainland politics”.
Siu insisted that he had quoted Huang correctly.
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