The Chinese Communist Party’s leading role must be respected and safeguarded in order to protect the constitutional order of Hong Kong, Beijing’s top official in the city said on Saturday during an online seminar for Constitution Day.

“Not recognising the superior status of the Constitution in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), not respecting the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is forgetting how the HKSAR came about – fundamentally it’s denying the constitutional foundation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” said Liaison Office Director Luo Huining.

Liaison Office Chief Luo Huining giving a speech in an online seminar on Constitution Day. Photo: GovHK, via video screenshot.

Luo also said Hong Kong faced “rampant ‘black violence'” during the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests, and that the “authority of the Constitution and the Basic Law” was “seriously challenged.”

The Liaison Office chief said that the central government took action “decisively” and plugged “major legal loopholes,” to maintain peace in society and protect the safety of the regime.

Following the 2019 protests, Beijing imposed the national security legislation in June last year, and a sweeping overhaul to the city’s electoral system in March this year which effectively reduced democratic representation.

The national security law criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

While government officials say the legislation has restored stability and peace to the city, the legislation alarmed democrats, civil society groups and trade partners. To date, 100 people, including former lawmakers, academics, and protesters, have been charged under the sweeping legislation.

‘All Chinese are duty bound’

Aside from Luo, Hong Kong’s top government officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng also made speeches or blog posts on Constitution Day.

Photo: GovHK.

Cheng wrote in a blog post published on Saturday that “the entire country must use the Constitution as the fundamental rules for activities.”

“Therefore, in safeguarding the dignity of the Constitution and guaranteeing the implementation of the Constitution, all Chinese are duty bound.”

Financial Secretary Paul Chan posted a picture of himself watching a news programme’s livestream of the online seminar on Facebook on Saturday, and wrote that he was “strengthening study” of the Constitution.

“The Capitalist system in Hong Kong can only run smoothly under the premise of respecting the country’s system and safeguarding the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party,” wrote Chan.

Meanwhile, China law expert Professor Jerome Cohen wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday that “actually, today HK people do not need further study to grasp the essence of [One Country, Two Systems].”

“They know that, if they are masochistic enough to voice any questions, they will have ample time to reflect on Constitution Day in prison,” wrote Cohen.

Candice Chau

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.