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Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 00:19

Beijing stresses ‘one point’, ‘two areas’ in HK affairs

By Zhou Bajun

Zhou Bajun says the central government emphasizes the need to safeguard national interests as well as the SAR’s prosperity when dealing with Hong Kong affairs.

Hong Kong affairs drew ample attention during the fifth plenary session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) and the fifth plenary session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The public is most interested in seeing how Beijing will handle issues related with the SAR, which can be summed up as “one point” and “two areas”.

Beijing stresses ‘one point’, ‘two areas’ in HK affairs“One point” refers to what Premier Li Keqiang emphasized in the Government Work Report to the NPC last week: The fundamental principle of “One Country, Two Systems” is to maintain the sovereignty, security and development interests of the nation as well as the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

“Two areas” refers to the political fight against “Hong Kong independence” advocacy — the Government Work Report determined that separatism was doomed — on the one hand and on the other hand, in socio-economic development, to resolutely push for Hong Kong’s integration with the rest of the nation, especially with Guangdong and Macao.

The emphasis on socio-economic integration is reflected in the Government Work Report as to research and formulate a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area city cluster’s development plan and take full advantage of Hong Kong and Macao’s unique strengths.

Implementing “one point” in “two areas” will be the main “mission” for Beijing in advancing “One Country, Two Systems” this year and beyond.

The central government requires and supports the HKSAR in containing any advocacy of “Hong Kong independence”. This view was made public by NPCSC Chairman Zhang Dejiang during his visit to Hong Kong in May last year.

In July last year the SAR government introduced a written declaration form requiring those who intended to run for Legislative Council seats to sign in order to qualify for LegCo election.

The declaration was designed to prevent separatists from joining the legislative race on “Hong Kong independence” platforms. In response to the blatantly illegal behavior of a number of separatist lawmakers-elect upon swearing-in in October last year, the NPC Standing Committee approved the interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law on Nov 7.

Following this political logic, the Government Work Report delivered by Li reiterated Beijing’s determination to crush any form of “Hong Kong independence”.

The report also called on people of all ethnicities as well as Hong Kong residents to join the fight against separatism. The Hong Kong media duly covered the two sessions and the Government Work Report but most of them did little more than reporting the news; whereas the opposition camp resisted the fight against separatism altogether under the guise of “seeking social harmony”.

The three nominees for the fifth-term Chief Executive election do not agree on the issue of fighting “Hong Kong independence” either. Former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah described “Hong Kong independence” as a false proposition.

Former chief secretary for administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reiterated that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. She said there can be absolutely no room for discussion about separatism.

Retired High Court judge Woo Kwok-hing said: “Everybody knows that they (central government authorities) don’t like ‘Hong Kong independence’”.

Since “Hong Kong independence” has nowhere to go, it is indeed a false proposition in that sense. However, the radical localism advocates who emerged as a political force during the illegal “Occupy Central” movement have turned their separatist ambitions into illegal actions. In that sense it is a true proposition already.

Woo’s response is even more off-putting. According to his logic, the central government wants to crush “Hong Kong independence” because it doesn’t like it. But some people do like it.

Carrie Lam is the only CE candidate who sticks to the Basic Law stipulation that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. She also insists “Hong Kong independence” is off-limits in discussions or in practice. Apparently, the fight against separatism will not end anytime soon.

Currently a sense of doubt and resistance toward Hong Kong’s economic integration with the mainland has permeated Hong Kong society. Some people want it stopped. Some others even demand that Hong Kong and the mainland return their relations to pre-handover levels — almost 20 years after China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

Hong Kong has come so far since 1997 that it is impossible to go back to the past. Those who cannot help missing the “good old days” should find Tsang at least partly to blame for their sense of “loss”. This is because the Hong Kong economy failed to achieve structural transformation when he was in charge of financial affairs. Many people are suffering the consequences of this today.

Hong Kong will have no future development if it closes itself to the outside world from now on. Economic globalization is merely experiencing a temporary setback right now. It will continue because the reorientation of the global politico-economic governance pattern cannot be reversed as the center of gravity in world affairs continues to shift from the West (Europe and North America) to the East (Asia).

At a time when the rest of the world is fighting to hitch a ride on the “China economic development express train”, Hong Kong enjoys the unparalleled advantage of already being on board. It has no need to stand in line like other economies do.

“Hong Kong independence” advocacy will lead Hong Kong to nowhere but self-destruction. Therefore, it must be stopped.

The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.

 
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