Basic Law clear about Hong Kong's status

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 November, 2012, 3:30am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says he is "working on the problem of integration with the mainland" ("Hong Kong chief executive urges people not to wave colonial flag", November 2).

He also said that competition for "land, housing and infant formula had strained relations".

The Basic Law makes no reference to or provision for "integration" with the mainland. Co-operation and interaction for mutual benefit are desirable but "integration" per se isn't scheduled until 2047.

On the contrary, the Basic Law requires Hong Kong to continue practising its designated system and way of life for 50 years and sets out in detail the respective responsibilities of the Hong Kong and central governments. Both sides need to accept and respect the reality of this arrangement.

The Basic Law did not envisage competition from massive influxes of mainland Chinese for Hong Kong land, housing and infant formula, disrupting the social system and driving prices sky high, nor a merger of the city with Shenzhen and Guangdong prior to 2047.

Hong Kong has struggled to accommodate such destabilising surges and provocations, which have led to conflict and a pushback by Hongkongers.

Article 22 of the Basic Law states that people from other parts of China must apply for approval to enter Hong Kong and that the numbers of persons entering for the purposes of settlement shall be determined by the central government after consulting the SAR government. It should therefore be possible to control these unnecessary pressures on Hong Kong's resources and stability, making government smoother and society more harmonious.

There is no mystery or "50 shades of grey" about the scope of autonomy. The limits are not arbitrary or subjective, they are clearly set out in the Basic Law.

Most responsibilities and powers for governance of the Hong Kong SAR are allocated to the Hong Kong government.

Others, including foreign affairs and defence, interpretation and amendment of the Basic Law, appointment of the chief executive and certain officials, and consideration of legislation, are the responsibility of the central government.

No central government department and no other province, autonomous region or municipality can interfere in the SAR's affairs.

With good faith, trust, mutual respect and acceptance, sound judgment and a commitment to the spirit of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong will continue to thrive.

Allan Woodley, Sydney, Australia