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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 08:41

Xi reaffirms support for HK’s democratic progress

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong
Xi reaffirms support for HK’s democratic progress
President Xi Jinping welcomes a Hong Kong business delegation headed by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (left) in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. (Rao Aimin / Xinhua)

President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged the continuity of the central government’s fundamental policies toward Hong Kong and reaffirmed support for democratic progress in the special administrative region (SAR).

The president made the remarks in his meeting with a delegation of business leaders from Hong Kong at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xi told the delegation that the “One Country, Two Systems” policy is a consistent and fundamental national policy that has served the interests of the country, Hong Kong and overseas investors.

“The central government’s fundamental principles and policies on Hong Kong have not changed, and will not change,” said Xi at the beginning of the meeting in the presence of Hong Kong media.

“We will unswervingly adhere to the “One Country, Two Systems” policy and the Basic Law, unswervingly support Hong Kong’s progress in democracy, and unswervingly safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” Xi added.

The president, according to the Xinhua News Agency, also said the key to Hong Kong affairs rested in the understanding and practice of “One Country, Two Systems”, as well as in upholding the Basic Law.

Xi voiced resolute support for Hong Kong authorities in taking action against any offenses which jeopardize the rule of law.  According to Chan Wing-kee, a Standing Committee member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) there was no specific mention of the “Occupy Central” campaign.

Chan also quoted Xi as saying the election of the CE by universal suffrage must address a most important aspect of Hong Kong’s status. Specifically that it is only a special administrative region (SAR) and comes directly under the jurisdiction of the central government.

In an apparent response to the opposition’s advocacy of an “international standard” of universal suffrage, the president said that “only the man who wears the shoes knows whether the pair fits”.

The arrangement of electoral reform must uphold the relationship between the central government and Hong Kong, the territorial integrity of the country and the stability of the SAR, Xi was quoted as saying. The election process must maintain a balanced participation. Moreover, the candidates must be patriots trusted by the central government.

Xi said the decision made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) must be respected and obeyed as part of the country’s constitutional foundation.

Xi was confident Hong Kong people would be pragmatic and allow political reform to progress in accordance with the rule of law.

The delegation was urged to adhere to principles and take the SAR’s actual situation into account. They should firmly oppose remarks and actions which breach the Basic Law and undermine the rule of law. They should fully support the Chief Executive (CE) and the SAR government in performing their duties in accordance with the law.

Another delegation member also learned from Xi that Hong Kong is no longer considered an “Asian Tiger”. Hong Kong needs to seek alternatives to boost its economic performance. The central government is also open to a review of the Individual Visit Scheme.

In the open-door session, Xi acknowledged that Hong Kong had not only shared the fate of the country in good and bad times, but it had also played a unique role when the country made great strides forward under the Communist Party of China’s leadership.

As Hong Kong and the mainland were entering an important moment in their development, Xi urged Hong Kong to build a better future for the city. He said it should make an even greater contribution to the modernization of the country with the support of the central government and under the leadership of the SAR government.

Sitting next to the president at the meeting were NPCSC Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Vice-President Li Yuanchao. Zhang also hosted the dinner which followed the meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

The delegation was led by Tung Chee-hwa, former chief executive and vice-chairman of CPPCC National Committee. Business leaders at the meeting included Li Ka-shing, chairman of Cheung Kong Holdings, and Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land.

They had also met senior officials at the National Development and Reform Commission on Monday morning.


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