A top Beijing official says the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” extends to the judiciary, the education sector and the media, in addition to public officials.

Xia Baolong, director of China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, also took specific aim at three democrats currently in custody accused of national security law offences — Jimmy Lai, Benny Tai and Joshua Wong — and said they deserve severe punishment.

Xia Baolong
Xia Baolong. Photo: Gov.cn.

Xia said in an interview the lack of a “stable situation” in which “patriots govern Hong Kong” in areas such as education and the media allowed “opposing forces” to make waves in the city.

He was speaking in an interview with pro-Beijing publication Bauhinia Magazine released on Monday.

“I have noticed, after the anti-extradition bill controversies and the District Council election, that Hong Kong society is reflecting. We are all reflecting,” said Xia. “Why can opposing forces make waves in Hong Kong under ‘one country, two systems,’ and even have more power in some administrative bodies?”

“…One of the direct reasons, is that the principle of ‘patriots governing Hong Kong’ has yet to be fully implemented. Regardless of bodies such as the SAR’s administration, legislature or judiciary, or in non-administration bodies such as the district councils, as well as areas such as education and the media, they have yet to really form a stable situation of ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’.”

Press freedom journalist police
Photo: Studio Incendo.

Xia said a patriot must “genuinely protect the country’s sovereignty, safety, and development of benefits,” “respect and maintain the country’s fundamental system and the constitutional order of the SAR,” and “maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”

The interview follows Xia’s comments last week that Hong Kong would undergo a series of electoral changes under the leadership of the Chinese authorities.

Following his comments, the Hong Kong government said it would introduce new requirements for district councillors to swear an oath to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the government. Pan-democrats won a landslide victory in district council elections in November 2019 in the wake of the anti-extradition bill protests.

The director also said people who are anti-China and stir up trouble in Hong Kong are easy to identify.

Jimmy Lai
Jimmy Lai being transferred onto a Correctional Services vehicle on February 1, 2021. Photo: Studio Incendo.

“They are the minorities who intentionally obstruct and destroy the smooth running of the SAR administrative bodies, intentionally destroy the constitutional order of ‘One country, two systems,’ and are willing to sacrifice themselves for foreign forces, or even beg foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong’s affairs…” said Xia.

“They are the minorities who attempt to use Hong Kong as a springboard to infiltrate, destroy, and subvert the mainland, and then harm national sovereignty and safety.”

Xia then said that “extremely vile” individuals such as Jimmy Lai, Benny Tai and Joshua Wong “should be severely punished.”

” [We] should not only not allow them to have any power in the SAR, we must also punish them severely for their illegal acts.”

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.