CY Leung refutes student’s claims, says Beijing always had power to appoint Hong Kong’s leader

In a recent article, a university student said the central government had contravened the ‘one country, two systems’ policy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 7:17pm

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has taken aim at a fourth-year university student who accused Beijing of contravening the “one country, two systems” policy and encroaching on the city’s autonomy.

In a post on his official blog yesterday, the city’s outgoing leader argued Beijing had always enjoyed the power to appoint Hong Kong’s chief executive.

On Wednesday, the Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily newspaper published an article written by fourth-year Education University student Alan Ho Kwan-lok.

In the article, Ho said Hongkongers used to understand “one country, two systems” as a framework under which the central government would deal with only the city’s defence and foreign affairs matters, as well as other areas outside the limits of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

But Ho argued that since Leung took office in 2012, the central government’s “substantive power to appoint” the chief executive had been mentioned more frequently in the media, proving that Hongkongers’ understanding of the city’s autonomy had been redefined by Beijing.

Leung took to his official blog to discredit the university student’s comments, even though the 22-year-old was relatively unknown to the public. He said both the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – stipulated that the city’s chief executive “shall be appointed by Beijing”.

“The two documents also state that Hong Kong’s principal officials shall also be nominated by the chief executive and appointed by the central government ... It shows that Beijing’s appointment power is substantive, not nominal,” Leung wrote.

Leung also argued Beijing had the authority to appoint the chief executive because the city’s power “is much bigger than other cities on the mainland and abroad”. Its high degree of autonomy meant Beijing would require a leader who it could trust.

“If Hong Kong did not enjoy a high degree of autonomy ... I believe there would not be the stipulation about Beijing’s appointment [of the chief executive],” said Leung, who became a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body last month.