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Thursday, October 20, 2016, 01:25

Song debunks idea of HK ‘self-determination’

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - “Self-determination” in Hong Kong is a non-issue, historically, legally and culturally, Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry to the city Song Zhe stressed.

Those who advocate such notions were either confused with the meaning of the term or deliberately misinterpreting this concept.

Song, commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR, made the argument in a commentary piece published in the Asia edition of The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Song discussed the history of China and also made references to international law, stressing that the term “self-determination” is completely irrelevant to Hong Kong.

“In historical terms, Hong Kong was under the effective jurisdiction of the Chinese central government, without interruption, before the Opium War,” Song wrote.

Legally, Beijing resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. It is clearly stated in China’s Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, he added.

Culturally, the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland share the same origin and belong to a common Chinese culture. He stressed that there has never been a Hong Kong nation and the city is not a colony under foreign rule. Consequently, there can be no issue of “self-determination” in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, he noted that two topics – “post-2047 arrangements” and “democratic self-determination”– have caused confusion.

The “One Country, Two Systems” principle will remain unchanged for the 50 years following 1997, which, written in the Basic law, means that Hong Kong’s lifestyle and capitalist system would remain in place for a set period, Song explained.

What needs to be discussed regarding 2047 is the kind of political, economic and social system that will be adopted in Hong Kong under the prerequisite of “One Country”. This falls into the area of a high degree of autonomy mandated by Beijing, not “democratic self-determination” as claimed by some.

Moreover, it was only after the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in 1997 that Hong Kong began to be administered by its residents with a high degree of autonomy, he noted.

For Hong Kong, the most pressing task is to strive for continued economic development and the improved quality of life of its people, bringing into full play its advantages, Song urged.

Thus he hopes Hong Kong will embrace new opportunities while being poised to develop together with the rest of the country.

“To play up certain erroneous ideas is in no one’s interest,” Song stressed.

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