The phrases “one country, two systems,” ‘”Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”, and “high degree of autonomy” have all disappeared from a report at China’s largest annual political session that began on Thursday.

The news comes as Beijing signals a overhaul of the city’s electoral system to ensure rule by “patriots.”

npc china
File photo: Liu Jin/AFP.

The change marks the first time all three fundamental concepts underpinning the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, have not featured in the annual report.

Last year, the phrases “One Country, Two Systems” and “autonomy” were included, while all three remained present in 2019.

Beijing had promised London that the former British colony would enjoy a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” before Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Under the promised system, Hong Kong would be ruled by locals under a separate executive, legislative and judicial system compared to that of mainland China, with the view of achieving full universal suffrage in accordance with democratic values and processes.

one country two systems flag china
File photo: via CC.2.0.

Democrats in Hong Kong, however, have accused Beijing of reneging on its promises after central authorities imposed a national security law on the city last summer following months of pro-democracy protests. Critics have decried it as an erosion of Hong Kong’s promised freedoms and status.

47 of the city’s prominent pro-democracy figures were charged with “subversion” under the law on Sunday. Police have confirmed that 100 people have been arrested under the law since last June, averaging one arrest per two and a half days.

‘Patriots ruling Hong Kong’

Instead of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong,” in its plans and policies for the upcoming year, the report stated that the principle of “patriots ruling Hong Kong” must be firmly supported and fully implemented, according to RFA.

It also pledged to strengthen the bond between people in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Chinese citizens overseas. Other measures include “patriotic education” of youth in Hong Kong and Macau and the promotion of cross-strait economic and cultural exchange and collaboration.

Xia Baolong
Xia Baolong. Photo:

The “Two Sessions” sitting is expected to unveil Beijing’s new plans for Hong Kong’s electoral system, after the Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) Xia Baolong said authorities must ensure the city is ruled by “patriots” last Monday.

The “Two Sessions” are a week-long meeting of around 5,000 of China’s political elites from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress. It sets out leader Xi Jinping’s political agenda for the coming year.

This year’s sitting will also unveil Beijing’s next five year plan for the country. It will continue until next Thursday.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.