22nd February 2021 – (Hong Kong) The Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies held a forum today to connect Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau. Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council gave an opening speech, setting the tone for the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” and heralding major changes.
During the forum, Xia emphasised that “patriots governing Hong Kong” is the core of “One country, Two systems” principle and is also the minimum standard for the implementation of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“Patriots governing Hong Kong” is an inevitable requirement of the great historical change of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland. The return of Hong Kong to the motherland means that the Chinese government has resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, opening a new era in which Hong Kong compatriots are the masters of the country, and Hong Kong’s governance rights will return to the hands of the Chinese people. Governance and sovereignty are inseparable. Hong Kong’s governing power can only be reflected in the hands of the Chinese who love the motherland and Hong Kong, and China can resume its sovereignty over Hong Kong.
On issues related to international relations, they must firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security, development interests and Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability, adhere to the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems,” and firmly oppose foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs. Adhering to “patriots governing Hong Kong” is crucial to the success or failure of the “One country, Two systems” principle and there should be no room for ambiguity.
Xia said that in the political structure of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, those who hold important positions and shoulder important governance responsibilities must be devoted patriots. In terms of patriotic standards, there should be higher demands on them.
Comrade Deng Xiaoping once made a classic statement: “The standard of a patriot is to respect one’s own nation and sincerely support the motherland’s restoration of its sovereignty over Hong Kong, without jeopardising the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.” This exposition of Comrade Deng Xiaoping focused on the situation before the return of Hong Kong. The standard defined was very broad, reflecting the broad political vision of the Communist Party of China. Whether you are patriotic or not depends on whether a person has a patriotic heart. This is what Comrade Xiaoping called “sincerity.” Combining with the various phenomena and problems that have emerged during the transitional period of Hong Kong and since its return to the motherland, in particular, the actions of patriots and the actions of anti-China activists in Hong Kong, it can be clearly seen that there is a clear difference between the two.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inseparable part of the People’s Republic of China. Those who pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should first be loyal to the People’s Republic of China. The vast majority of Chinese citizens in Hong Kong society are patriotic. Anti-China activists are the saboteurs of “One country, Two systems” principle and they cannot be allowed to interfere with the regime of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Only patriots can truly benefit Hong Kong people, bring prosperity and stability to Hong Kong, and promote Hong Kong and the motherland together.
To ensure that the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle continues in the correct direction and to go far and without distortion, an important prerequisite is that those who govern Hong Kong must be able to fully and accurately understand and implement the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. Those who govern Hong Kong must deeply recognise that “One country” is the prerequisite and foundation of “Two systems” and maintain a clear-cut stand for the constitutional order established by the Constitution and the Basic Law, fully respect the socialist system implemented by the main body of the country, and correctly handle the central and special administrative regions involved.
For those who shoulder important governance responsibilities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, they should meet the following requirements: First, they must fully and accurately implement the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. They must thoroughly and systematically study and understand the essence of the “One country, Two systems” principle before applying it to analyse and resolve various difficulties and problems facing Hong Kong. On major issues of principle concerning national sovereignty, security, development interests, and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, those in charge of the governance of the Special Administrative Region must stand up bravely, stand at the forefront, and take the maintenance of “One country, Two systems” principle as the supreme responsibility, and meet those challenges. They should resolutely fight against the actions that undermine the practice of “One country, Two systems” principle.
The destiny of Hong Kong has always been closely connected with the destiny of the motherland. We must stand at the strategic height of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the overall development of the country, plan the future of Hong Kong, manage Hong Kong’s affairs well, and promote the practice of “One country, Two systems” principle. We must put aside all hesitation and sway, seize the strategic opportunity of the motherland to comprehensively promote the modernszation drive together with the support of the motherland, combine the needs of the country with the strengths of Hong Kong to a brighter future for Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the administrative leadership system must be implemented. Hong Kong implements an executive-led system with the Chief Executive at the core. The Chief Executive is in a leading and central position in the structure and operation of the power of the Special Administrative Region. To improve the electoral system, more consideration should be given to the improvement of the relationship between the executive and the legislature, continuously improve the governance efficiency of the special administrative region government, enhance the governance capacity and level of the special administrative region, and promote good governance. More consideration should be given to the promotion of the realisation of a fixed point and an end to disputes and build consensus, so as to bring all forces together to develop the economy and improve people’s livelihood as the top priority.
Finally, there must be a sound system guarantee. “Patriots governing Hong Kong” must be implemented in the system. It is necessary to improve the relevant systems and provide effective methods to ensure that the members of the administrative, legislative, and judicial bodies of the special administrative region and the heads of important statutory bodies are all held by true patriots. Under no circumstances should important posts be occupied by anti-China activists in Hong Kong.
Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, pointed out that the central government has elevated the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” to an unprecedented strategic height, including the inevitable reform of the electoral system.