Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, the chief executive’s top media aide, has weighed in on the debate over Hong Kong’s mini-constitution dismissing any suggestions of gaining independence through amendments in the Basic Law.
Fung’s comment on Tuesday comes a week after the government issued a statement – aimed at a pro-independence student group – that the Basic Law cannot be amended to accommodate independence as it would contravene the One Country, Two Systems arrangement.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s spin doctor also spoke about Hong Kong’s financial autonomy after the 50-year One country, Two system provision – put in place after the 1997 handover – comes to an end. He said that Hong Kong’s capitalist system expires in 2047, but China’s sovereignty will continue.
According to Fung and the government, the pro-independence student group claimed that once the Basic Law expires in 2047, the mini-constitution can be amended to allow a peaceful transition to independence. He rejected the claim: “There is no such thing as an expiry of the Basic Law.”
He cited Article 1 of the Basic Law that says Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China; and Article 5, which stipulates that Hong Kong’s “previous capitalist system and way of life” will remain unchanged for 50 years.
Therefore, Fung said, “the year of 2047 marks the expiry of Hong Kong’s capitalist system, whereas there is no time limit to the policy that Hong Kong is an inalienable territory of China.”
In addition, Article 159 states that any amendment to the mini-constitution must not contravene the established basic policies of China regarding Hong Kong, which includes Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong.
“Therefore, no amendment to the Basic Law… can be used as a means to attain Hong Kong independence,” Fung wrote.
Fung also criticised those who used the “2047 non-issue” to spread fear surrounding land leases in Hong Kong.
He cited Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po, who recently explained that the government had announced in 1997 that non-renewable leases may be extended for 50 years subject to an annual rent from the date of extension at three per cent of the building’s value. He added that the extension of such leases are at the discretion of the SAR government.
Fung said the government will be able to solve the land lease issue without difficulty.
However, it remains unclear whether Hong Kong’s capitalist system or “way of life” will remain unchanged after 2047, though Chan urged residents not to “blindly believe” that the government will fundamentally change its policies.