Wang Huning, one of the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, has been quoted as saying that there was zero tolerance for Hong Kong independence.

His remarks came after the omission of the issue in both work reports made by Chinese leaders during the opening of the annual Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and National People’s Congress sessions.

Wang, who was appointed one of the seven-member Politburo of the party last year, was a political theorist. He has not been in charge of Hong Kong affairs in the past.

Wang Huning
Wang Huning. File Photo: RFA.

Wang met with Hong Kong delegates to the NPC on Tuesday instead of Li Zhanshu, another member of the Politburo who was expected to head Hong Kong affairs.

Open University of Hong Kong President Wong Yuk-Shan, a spokesperson for the delegation, said Wang spoke about five wishes he had for Hong Kong.

“He believed that Hong Kong should continue implementing ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ so that it and the Basic Law are followed without any distortion,” Wong said. “[Hong Kong] should understand the central government’s overall jurisdiction. Harming the Basic Law and the long term stability of Hong Kong is prohibited.”

“He mentioned that there were some illegal acts in Hong Kong society – the so-called Hong Kong independence – and the central government has zero tolerance for it. He said it must be dealt with sternly, or even with a heavy blow.”

He also said that Hong Kong must be governed in accordance with the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law, according to Wong.

wang yuk shan
Wong Yuk-shan. Photo: Screenshot/RTHK.

Wang was also quoted as saying that it was an “inevitable choice” for Hong Kong to participate in central government’s national policies such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area and the One Belt One Road Initiative.

“He also hoped for Hong Kong compatriots to increase their patriotic spirit and their recognition of the nation. He mentioned that the amendment of the constitution included the spirit of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation… the fate of the country is very much related to us,” Wong said.

Hong Kong lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, the chief of the delegation, said Wang positively responded to their questions and suggestions, and pledged to look into implementing some of them.

Other attendees also included Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office; Li Fei and Elsie Leung, respectively the head and deputy head of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee; Wang Zhimin, head of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong; and Rita Fan, a former member of the Standing Committee of the NPC.

Speculation over leadership

Last Sunday, Politburo member Zhao Leji met with CPPCC members from Hong Kong, instead of Wang Yang, who was expected to lead the CPPCC.

Zhao Leji
Zhao Leji. File Photo: GovCN.

An unnamed CPPCC member told Now TV’s political gossip show that Zhao read from a script, unlike former Hong Kong affairs head Zhang Dejiang, who often went off script to express his personal opinion. Thus, it is unlikely that Zhao will be in charge of Hong Kong affairs, the source said.

Another member told the station it may signal collective leadership over Hong Kong affairs, instead of having one person in charge.

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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.