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Thursday, February 5, 2015, 08:54

Central govt’s jurisdiction immutable: Zhang

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong
Central govt’s jurisdiction immutable: Zhang
(From left) Song Zhe, commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the HKSAR; Tung Chee-hwa, former chief executive of Hong Kong and a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body; Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR; Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Yue Shixin, political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison, propose a toast at the spring cocktail reception of the Liaison Office at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)

The central government’s top envoy in the SAR, Zhang Xiaoming, reiterated that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy was no pretext for rejecting the central government’s jurisdiction over the city. 

He said any attempt to advocate a separatist agenda or confront the central government by illegal means is unacceptable.

The director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR stressed the importance of clarifying the relationship between the SAR and the central government during a speech at the office’s annual spring reception on Wednesday.

He noted that the “Occupy Central” movement had inflicted deep wounds on Hong Kong society. But Zhang said the key lesson to be learnt from it was the city’s relationship with the central government and the country.

Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. But he said this was no excuse for the SAR to disrespect Beijing’s jurisdiction. This includes the power to decide on universal suffrage in the SAR.

He said the promise of a high degree of autonomy could not be used as a pretext to advocate “Hong Kong independence”, or even to “overtly confront the central government by illegal means”.

“‘One Country, Two Systems’ has its own rules,” he added.

Another lesson Zhang drew from last year’s illegal protests is that Hong Kong youth needs more love and care. Not only are they the city’s future, but also the country’s. He urged society to attach importance to young people’s education, employment and entrepreneurial efforts.

He said Hong Kong’s education system should prioritize the country’s history, culture and current situation. Then, young people would better appreciate the richness of Chinese civilization, as well as the tremendous achievements made by the nation since 1949.

Young people should also learn more about the links between the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

Zhang said he realized some Hong Kong people have felt lost in the wake of the country’s rapid developments. They are concerned that Hong Kong is being “marginalized” or even “mainlandized”. Such feelings are unnecessary and “out of place”, he explained.

Zhang said the central government would continue supporting the unique characteristics and advantages of Hong Kong. He said the city would also continue to play a unique role in the country’s reforms and modernization.

Looking back at the “serious challenge” posed by the illegal protests, Zhang praised the SAR government for being “unflappable” and handling the situation well. The police also fulfilled their duties in a civilized and professional manner.

Zhang believes the illegal movement also reminded Hong Kong people to cherish the rule of law, which is the city’s most important asset. No one should be disrespectful to the law no matter whether he or she is on the mainland or in Hong Kong, he said.

Hong Kong’s legislature will decide the fate of the electoral reform package later this year.

Zhang emphasized Beijing’s commitment to implementing universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive in 2017. But he also reiterated that the election mechanism must conform to the Basic Law and decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

In particular, he said the blueprint established by the country’s top legislature last August best suited Hong Kong’s current circumstances. The city is now only one step away from realizing its most democratic plans, he said, “This might be a difficult step, but it will be a historic one for sure!”


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