A top Beijing official has said China will support Hong Kong in “improving” mechanisms related to its mini-constitution, while excluding the usual mention of the city’s high degree of autonomy at the opening of the third session of the 13th Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

In delivering the party’s annual work report on Thursday, CPPCC Chairman Wang Yang said the committee has supported members from Hong Kong to actively voice their opinions and gather positive energy to “stop violence and curb disorder.”

Wang Yang. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Wang’s remarks in support of “stopping violence” echoed previous criticism by Beijing on the large-scale protests that erupted in Hong Kong last June. The unrest was originally over a now-axed extradition bill, but later morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement against China’s encroachment.

Wang also said the political duties and responsibilities of committee members from Hong Kong and Macau will be strengthened in the coming year, as Beijing firmly supports the “improvement” of systems related to the constitution and Basic Law. He also mentioned the committee has issued statements to “solemnly refute” the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act enacted by the US Senate and Congress.

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

However, in Wang’s speech, he did not mention “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong,” nor the city’s high degree of autonomy, as he did in the previous year.

National security legislation

According to HK01 citing sources, a spokesperson of the National People’s Congress (NPC) will announce the meeting’s agenda on Thursday evening, which will include a “Hong Kong version” of China’s national security law.

Sources said the relevant legislation would be directly added to Annex III of the Basic Law. It may represent an alternative to enacting the controversial Article 23 of the Basic Law, which would enable the Hong Kong government to make laws to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government.

A banner against Article 23 security law. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

An attempt to legislate Article 23 failed in 2003 after an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in protest. The Hong Kong government has always had enough votes to pass the law, but was shelved due to a widespread backlash.

At present, the national laws listed in Annex III cover issues such as National Day procedures and diplomatic privileges. Basic Law Article 18 states that, before the NPC can add or delete laws in Annex III, the Standing Committee of the NPC should consult the Hong Kong government and the Basic Law Committee.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.