Date
11 December 2018
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Shen Chunyao (sixth right), chair of the NPCSC Basic Law Committee, and other officials pose for pictures at a National Constitution Day forum on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Shen Chunyao (sixth right), chair of the NPCSC Basic Law Committee, and other officials pose for pictures at a National Constitution Day forum on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

China constitution covers HK, says Basic Law Committee chair

China’s constitution is the highest legal authority in the country and covers all of the territories, including Hong Kong, said Shen Chunyao, chairman the Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC).

Shen, who is visiting Hong Kong for the first time since he took up the post in March this year, made the remarks on Tuesday at a National Constitution Day forum organized by the Endeavour Education Centre, whose co-founder is NPCSC member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The attendees included Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, director of Beijing’s Liaison Office Wang Zhimin, government officials, law scholars, and about 300 secondary school students.

Shen told the forum that a country can only have one constitution, and the authority of the national constitution covers the country’s entire territory.

As the Hong Kong special administrative region is directly under the jurisdiction of the central government, the validity of the constitution covers the HKSAR as well, he said.

The constitution’s supreme legal status provides legislative basis and serves as the source of validity for the Basic Law, and together they form the constitutional basis of the HKSAR.

As such, upholding the two laws forms an integral part of the implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, said Shen, who also chairs the NPCSC’s Legislative Affairs Commission.

He said the national constitution is the parent law while the Basic Law is the subsidiary law.

The people in the entire nation, including all Hongkongers and all state institutions, have to defend the constitution’s dignity and ensure its implementation, Shen said.

“Any attempt to jeopardize national security, challenge the authority of the Central People’s Government and the Basic Law, using Hong Kong to engage in subversive activities against the mainland would be in breach of the bottom line and is not allowed,” RTHK quoted Shen as saying.

While the “one country, two systems” principle allows Hong Kong to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, “two systems” is indeed founded under “one country”.

In her speech, Lam said the government will do more to promote the importance of the constitution in Hong Kong, adding that only by doing so will Hongkongers understand why it is very important to safeguard it, according to RTHK.

Commenting on Shen’s remarks, Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal sector, said the senior Beijing official ignored the fact that there are still differences between the “two systems”.

Kwok said the constitution stipulates that China practices the socialist system but the Basic Law says clearly that it shall not be the case in Hong Kong.

Given such differences, it would be hard for the national constitution to be effectively implemented in the city, he added.

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TL/JC/CG

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