Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 09:28
White paper offers timely warning
By Eddy Li

The State Council Information Office has published a timely white paper on the progress of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy in the Hong Kong SAR.

Whether someone is a dissident or a patriot, they naturally want to express their views on the paper. But it is important to understand some of the key points made in it.

White paper offers timely warningFor example: “As a unitary state, China’s central government has comprehensive jurisdiction over all local administrative regions, including the HKSAR.”

Many have quoted this — suggesting that the central government may perhaps have changed its position, albeit slightly, in regard to Hong Kong. But these comments on “comprehensive jurisdiction” are consistent with what Beijing’s leaders have been saying all along. When I attended the 2014 NPC & CPPCC in Beijing this March, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, discussed the “One Country, Two Systems” principle with CPPCC members from the HKSAR. As far as I can remember, he emphasized that “One Country” is the predominant condition and the foundation for “Two Systems” — with the latter being subject to the former. But he explained that a “high degree of autonomy” did not mean full autonomy.

So the central government’s decision to release a white paper to reiterate these points is understandable. It is the first time, in the 17 years since the handover that the central government has released a paper on the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. This decision was obviously closely related to the current political situation in Hong Kong.

The public consultation on appropriate methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2016 is beneficial to all Hong Kong people. It allows every citizen to contribute to Hong Kong’s constitutional development in order to implement a practical mechanism for implementing universal suffrage. However some people, apparently with ulterior motives, began threatening the government with the “Occupy Central” campaign even before the public consultation had begun. Right from the beginning, the “Occupy Central” campaign clearly stated that its intention was to force Beijing to change its position — by occupying Hong Kong’s political and economic center for a long time. They identified Beijing as the target of their illegal campaign. But this shows these troublemakers also acknowledge that the comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong does undeniably lie with the central government.

The “Occupy Central” campaign is an illegal movement in every way — something even admitted to by its organizers. The extent of its illegality is unlikely to be offset by claims it is in the interests of “democracy”. The injustice of the campaign is beyond dispute. The civil disobedience campaign claims to oppose any process of filtering out candidates in universal suffrage elections, but in their upcoming public opinion poll on June 22, the campaign organizers themselves filtered out electoral packages they disliked. They provided only three variations of one format. All of these require civil nomination and violate the Basic Law. Apparently they expect the SAR government to reject this and, therefore, give them an excuse to launch “Occupy Central”.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok published an article the other day explaining the nature, and possible impact, of “Occupy Central”. He expressed his concern that social unrest could result. Should the campaign indeed spiral out of control, Hong Kong could be plunged into chaos.

The increasingly irrational behavior of radicals under the guise of democracy threatens Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. Therefore, the central government has every reason to sound a warning. The white paper clearly explains the relationship between “One Country” and “Two Systems”. It clarifies the “comprehensive jurisdiction” which Beijing has over the HKSAR. It also serves as a warning to those who, for their own political ambitions, intend to break the law in the name of “true democracy”.

The author is vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong.