A legal official of Beijing’s official organ in Hong Kong has said that – of all the people in the world – Hongkongers made “the strongest insults towards China’s system.”

Wang Zhenmin, the legal chief for the China Liaison Office, said at a forum in Hong Kong that he hoped Hong Kong people could respect China’s system.

“We hope that Hong Kong’s return is a part of the great revival of the Chinese race, and is not a problem,” he said. “We particularly hope our Hong Kong friends will understand the country’s logic, its reasons. For our system – during the years that Hong Kong left the motherland – the motherland’s people have established this system. There should be at least some respect, reverence.”

Wang Zhenmin. File

“For example, many of our friends have such feeling, that in the whole world [the people] who make the strongest insults to China’s system are not in the US, not in Europe, but Hong Kong.”

Wang said China would not change its system because of Hong Kong’s return, but it has made important supplements to its system, such as the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. He also highlighted China’s mechanism to interpret the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s de facto constitution – and said that China did not replace all civil servants and judges with respect to its Marxist tradition.

Recently, Wang said that the coming decade would not the right time to restart political reform.

New standardised mechanism

Another scholar suggested at the forum that there should be a standardisation for interpretations of the Basic Law.

Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said the mechanism did not have clear details.

“For example, the main body of the interpretation, its principles, rules, procedures, legality,” he said. He suggested the standing committee should draft a law for the process, nothing that it would not require an amendment to the Basic Law.

Rao Geping. File Photo: Stand News.

Last year, the standing committee issued an interpretation which said lawmakers must take their oaths of office sincerely and accurately. Two localist lawmakers were disqualified following the decision.

Rao also said Article 23 of the Basic Law – the national security legislation – was being “demonised and stigmatised,” and that national security should not be in conflict with human rights.

“Hong Kong people cannot ask for Article 45 [on universal suffrage] to be enacted because they like it… but reject enacting Article 23,” Rao said.

The legislation was shelved in 2003 after mass protests in the city.

Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said the mechanism for the interpretation of the Basic Law was clearly laid out in the Basic Law, and past cases at the Court of Final Appeal have provided legal principles as to when an interpretation would be required.

Kwok said it would be best for the highest court to form a mechanism under the principles of the common law, and not a standardisation by the National People’s Congress.

“This would be the most suitable way within the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle,” he said.

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.