A former top Beijing official on Hong Kong affairs has said that those calling for an end to China’s “one-party dictatorship” – a slogan widely used by democrats – “probably cannot” run for seats in the Legislative Council.

The debate over the slogan started last month when Tam Yiu-chung, a newly-appointed member of China’s top legislative body, said that candidates may be barred from running for seats in Hong Kong’s legislature if they call for an end to China’s “one-party dictatorship.”

Wang Guangya, the former director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, was asked by reporters in Beijing if those who chant the slogan can run.

Wang Guangya
Wang Guangya. File

“Probably not,” said Wang, now a member of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee in China’s top legislature.

“It is a violation of the country’s constitution – it is an offence,” he said. “The constitution stipulates the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party – it is the political system.”

Wang also said that China was not a one-party dictatorship: “But the slogan is obviously targeting [the party].”

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

Asked if democrats who chanted the slogan in the past would be allowed to run, Wang said: “I have no ties to Hong Kong and Macau affairs anymore.”

Reporters also posed the question to Li Fei, the former head of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee. Li responded that he was no longer in charge of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs.

Shen Chunyao, the current head of the Basic Law Committee, did not respond to questions.

communist party beijing one party rule protest china
Photo: Todd Darling.

The officials were confronted about the issue after China Liaison Office Director Wang Zhimin remarked on Monday that “one-party dictatorship” was a false issue. The director also said it was not in line with political ethics for politicians to enter the establishment whilst calling for it to be overthrown.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that she cannot offer guarantees that people would not be prosecuted for calling for an end to one-party rule in mainland China in the future.

Huang Liuquan, deputy director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, was also quoted earlier this month as denying that there was a “one-party dictatorship” in China.

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.