The top Beijing official on Hong Kong affairs has said there is no contradiction between China’s “overall jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and the city’s “high degree of autonomy.”

“The safeguarding of the central leadership’s overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong and Macau, and that of the Special Administrative Regions’ high degree of autonomy must be combined in an organic manner,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his opening speech at the 19th Communist Party National Congress on Wednesday.

Zhang Xiaoming, the director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said Xi’s words have a specific audience, as some people do not have a full and accurate understanding of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

Zhang Xiaoming.

“The two do not contradict each other, because you know that when Hong Kong returned to the motherland, the handover of Hong Kong’s political power did not only include a hollow sovereignty, and was not limited to matters such as defence and foreign affairs – but included the jurisdiction of the whole Hong Kong. Sovereignty and jurisdiction cannot be separated,” Zhang told reporters after a meeting in Beijing on Thursday.

Zhang said the central government granted part of the overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong to the city.

“There it is actually an authorisation, you also know that the Basic Law is a ‘law of authorisation,’” he said.

Zhang urged Hong Kong people to read Xi’s work report closely, instead of speculating whether Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong will be tightened or loosened.

He said the work report includes comprehensive narratives on Hong Kong and Macau, which are solemn promises made by the central government to international society.

Xi Jinping. Photo: Screenshot.

Xi also said the central government will continue supporting Hong Kong in taking “well ordered steps” to advance democracy.

Zhang said in response that he believed the statement was the same as ones made in the past. He said it means that Hong Kong should move forward in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress, in the light of the actual situation, as stated in the Basic Law.

He added that it is Hong Kong’s constitutional duty to enact the national security law, as stipulated by the Basic Law’s Article 23.

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.