Patriotism should be added to the list of Hong Kong’s core values, the director of Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong has said.

China Liaison Office director Zhang Xiaoming made his comments on Saturday in a speech during the 70th anniversary celebration of Pui Kiu Middle School.

Zhang Xiaoming. Photo: Stand News.

“Of the values that Hong Kong society respects, core elements like freedom, democracy, rule of law, and market economy are of course emphasised. We should continue to firmly defend them. But apart from these, we should add another core value  – this is patriotism,” Zhang said.

Zhang also discussed the issue of the recent Basic Law interpretation, saying that Hong Kong’s judiciary cannot override the central government.

“Judicial independence is discussed in relation to [Hong Kong’s status as a] special administrative region, and to the legislating organs. Judicial independence cannot override the rights accorded to the central government by law, and judicial independence cannot be used to resist and reject the power of the central government.”

This follows a recent interpretation of the Basic law by the Beijing government which effectively ruled on an ongoing court case in Hong Kong. The ruling effectively banned  two elected lawmakers from taking their place in government. The Hong Kong Bar Association has criticised the central government’s move saying that it would severely impact judicial independence in the city.

Johannes Chan. Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

The interpretation by China’s top legislative body was timely and necessary, said Zhang. The NPCSC acted rightfully and according to the law – if it had not acted, it would have been condoning treason, which would have led to endless troubles, he said.

Zhang also urged his audience to pay attention to the matter of strengthening “patriotic education” in schools in the wake of the controversy over LegCo oaths and the conflict over the Basic Law interpretation.

The oaths of Youngspiration lawmakers-elect Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching were deemed invalid when they took them while carrying a flag that said “Hong Kong is not China” and referred to China as “Chee-na,” considered a derogatory term by some.

Zhang previously said that the two politicians’ “terrible” behaviour during the swearing-in ceremony cannot be tolerated and that those advocating Hong Kong independence should be punished according to the law.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.