A former veteran executive and legislative councillor has said that Beijing’s legal chief in Hong Kong should “shut up” following his recent comments on Hong Kong’s constitutional status.

Wang Zhenmin, legal chief of the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said last Saturday that it would be a misunderstanding of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, if it was seen as a separate item from the Chinese constitution.

“Any matters that the Basic Law did not regulate on, the relevant regulations in the [Chinese] constitution will be applicable to Hong Kong automatically,” Wang said.

Allen Lee. File Photo: Citizen News.

Allen Lee, the founding chair of the Liberal Party, said that he did not know if Wang’s understanding of the Basic Law and the governance of Hong Kong represented Beijing’s thoughts.

“I hope [Wang] shuts up,” he said after recording his political TV talk show on Sunday.

Lee said the 2014 “One Country, Two Systems” white paper issued by Beijing’s State Council mentioned its “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, and it has caused great challenges to the city’s high degree of autonomy.

Wang Zhenmin. File

Article 18 of the Basic Law stipulates that national laws shall not be applied in the Hong Kong, except for those listed in Annex III of the Basic Law, such as the national flag and emblem law.

Lee was an executive councillor and lawmaker for nearly 20 years.

Mainland jurisdiction

In June, the legislature passed the controversial joint checkpoint bill for the Express Rail Link, where a quarter of the West Kowloon Terminus will be under mainland jurisdiction, instead of Hong Kong’s.

Martin Lee, the founding chair of the Democratic Party, said Wang’s comments violated the original intention of the Basic Law.

Martin Lee. File Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lee said after the talk show that if the Chinese constitution was applicable in Hong Kong, it would have been stated in the Basic Law when the law was being drafted.

He said he believed Wang hoped to use the Chinese constitution to override the Basic Law, in an attempt to rationalise the idea of “comprehensive jurisdiction.”

He also said Wang’s comments may be intended to respond to criticism on the joint checkpoint bill, which has been slammed by the democrats and some lawyers as unconstitutional.

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.