A deputy director of Beijing’s organ in Macau has said it was his understanding that those calling for an end to China’s “one-party dictatorship” cannot run for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Tam Yiu-chung, a newly-appointed member of China’s top legislative body, said this weekend that candidates may be barred from running for seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council if they call for an end to China’s “one-party dictatorship.”

Tam’s comments came after an amendment to the Chinese constitution stressing that “the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Chen Sixi. Photo: i-Cable screenshot.

Tam denied he was speaking on behalf of central government officials. But Chen Sixi, one of four deputy directors of the Liaison Office in Macau, echoed Tam’s view on Tuesday.

Asked if those advocating for an end to China’s “one-party dictatorship” will be able to serve as Hong Kong lawmakers, Chen said: “In my understanding, yes.”

“The constitution is the fundamental law of the country, and is applied in the whole country,” he said.

“Although Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region, [residents] have to respect the constitution and defend the authority of the constitution – this is the same [in Hong Kong], there is no difference in the two systems.”

Chen became a deputy director of the Liaison Office in Macau in 2013. He was rumoured to succeed Li Fei to lead Beijing’s Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress.

The 2017 Tiananmen Massacre vigil in Victoria Park. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The call to end one-party dictatorship is regularly made by pro-democracy figures at the annual Tiananmen massacre candlelight vigil in Hong Kong.

The slogan is one of the five principles of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which organises the vigil.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, a member of the Alliance’s standing committee, said on Tuesday that the Alliance will continue chanting the slogan at the vigil.

“The stance of the Alliance will not change,” he said. “We will continue to call for the Chinese government end the one-party dictatorship.”

Leung Yiu-chung. File photo: In-Media.

He said Hong Kong lawmakers were only required to respect and uphold the Hong Kong Basic Law, and not the Chinese constitution under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

“If candidates are barred from running [for chanting the slogan], it will be a massive destruction of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle,” he said. “Even China will not say it is a one-party dictatorship, but multi-party [cooperation].”

He urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to clarify the matter.

Lawmaker Michael Tien, who is also a delegate to the NPC, said those wishing to run for the legislature were “stepping on the boundary” by attending the vigil and chanting “end one-party dictatorship.”

“It’s best not to say it often,” he said. But he said past instances of chanting the slogan may not have negative effects.

Michael Tien. File photo: In-Media

Asked about the matter, Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said on Tuesday that he had nothing to add to the chief executive’s remarks, made on Monday. Carrie Lam said each case will be decided individually in accordance with Hong Kong’s laws.

“The election officer has to make a judgement by looking at the law at the time of the election,” he said. “It is still a hypothetical question at this stage.”

“But I want to add that the Basic Law originates from the constitution – there is indeed such a relationship. Other than respecting the Basic Law, the constitution must be respected as well.”

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.