The Democratic Party has proposed that Beijing should reduce the size of its official body in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office, and increase its level of transparency.
The moderate pro-democracy party issued two papers ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Handover, as a reflection of the past two decades and to lay out its expectations for the future.
It said that the promise of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the city’s high degree of autonomy have changed.
“We urge the central government to get back on track with the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle – local affairs must completely handled by the Hong Kong government,” it read.
The Liaison Office has often been criticised for its over-arching power. It is often seen as a power broker behind the rise and fall of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing politicians.
The paper, written by the party’s vice-chairman and district councillor Lo Kin-hei, said that Hong Kong people not only have a legal identity, but they are also a community of people connected by a shared fate. He was responding to new localist theories of identity.
It said that anyone who works for Hong Kong’s future, does their civic duty for the city and defends its core values, will share the Hong Kong identity.
“There is no need to put emphasis on ourselves by creating and rejecting ‘others,’” it read.
Risks of independence
The party warned that those who advocate for the self-determination of Hong Kong’s sovereignty – including those who support independence – should not ignore the risk that China may roll back the city’s autonomy and make it “One Country, One System.”
“This is very risky political gamble – responsible political participants should balance the potential risks and the achievements, and consider whether there are ways to achieve similar results with lower risk,” it said.
“The Democratic Party does not advocate Hong Kong moving to ‘One Country, One System’ – we do not support Hong Kong independence either – we believe we should have the maximum level of autonomy under the current sovereign framework,” it continued.
The party said that, under the current system, the central government must limit its reach and not involve itself in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Mainland authorities stationed in Hong Kong must follow Hong Kong laws, stipulated by Article 22 of the Basic Law.
“There should be a large-scale reduction in the structure of the China Liaison Office, and an increase in transparency of its operations,” it said.
The party also urged Beijing to respect Hong Kong’s independent judiciary and not launch interpretations of the Basic Law on issues relating to the city’s internal affairs.
It said Beijing must retract its restrictive framework set in 2014 over Hong Kong’s elections and restart the democratic reform process. Without universal suffrage, a national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law should not be enacted.
It suggested that annual duty reports by the chief executive to Beijing should only be on the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong and general governance information. Other principal officials should not be required to report internal Hong Kong affairs to Beijing.
It also urged an end to cross-border law enforcement such as the unlawful kidnapping of Hong Kong citizens.