The top Beijing official in Hong Kong has said that the issue of Hong Kong independence is a matter of right and wrong, questioning whether independence advocates should be allowed to run in the Legislative Council election or even enter the legislature.

Zhang Xiaoming, the director of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said the issue was related to the general direction of Hong Kong’s development, and that every Hongkonger who wished to do good to the city should consider it deeply and be alert.

“If Hong Kong independence groups are tolerated in entering gloriously into the legislative body of Hong Kong, is this in accordance with One Country, Two Systems?” Zhang said. “Which direction would this set Hong Kong society down?…This isn’t just only a legal issue, it’s a major matter of principle, a matter of the bottom line.”

Zhang Xiaoming. Photo: TVB screenshot.

He was speaking on Wednesday at meeting related to the planning of October’s Chinese National Day celebrations.

Basic Law declaration 

During the speech, Zhang did not comment on the new controversial “One China” pledge that election candidates may be required to sign to declare that they uphold Basic Law articles related to China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.

The form may have been aimed at independence advocates, though some have refused to sign, as the pan-democrats claimed it had no legal basis nor binding power after meeting with the chairman of Electoral Affairs Commission.

Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Zhang said that the situation and new problems in the Hong Kong political scene developed for complicated reasons linked to social and economic factors.

He cited state leader Zhang Dejiang, who visited in May, as saying that the problems could not be solved in a matter of days, but people should not cast doubt upon, or reject, the One Country, Two Systems principle which guarantees the city’s autonomy.

Zhang said that the central government was sincere in maintaining Hong Kong’s existing systems, way of life and advantages.

“The central government is absolutely not intending to mainlandise Hong Kong, turning it into another Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen,” he said.

He also urged Hong Kong people to visit the mainland, to understand “the real China”.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.