Illogical for foe of Beijing to be chief executive, Qiao Xiaoyang says

Qiao cites HK newspaper commentary in row over democrats’ role in election for top job

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 5:46am

The Beijing official whose remarks at the weekend sparked fears that pan-democrats would be screened out of the chief executive election in 2017 cited a Hong Kong newspaper's commentary to illustrate his case.

National People's Congress Law Committee chairman Qiao Xiaoyang referred to an article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal which he said illustrated how it would be "illogical" for someone confrontational to the central government to take the top job under the "one country, two systems" principle.

This emerged when a full transcript of the remarks by Qiao on Sunday was published on the website of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong.

The article said that if Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee were elected chief executive, she might face a dilemma on some occasions. For example, on National Day, she might have to decide whether to attend official celebrations as her predecessors did or express opposition to one-party rule along with other pan-democrats.

"By citing this article, I do not mean to judge and criticise Ms Eu's speech and actions," Qiao said. "This paragraph explicitly illustrates that under 'one country, two systems', it would be illogical for someone who confronts the central government to be the chief executive."

This paragraph explicitly illustrates that under 'one country, two systems', it would be illogical for someone who confronts the central government to be the chief executive

Responding in an online article on Yahoo!, Eu questioned why Qiao spent so much time reading commentaries and guessing the meaning behind them.

"His focus should be on launching the consultation [on introducing universal suffrage] as soon as possible and setting up a universal suffrage system that is suitable to Hong Kong," she wrote.

The row over the definition of the phrase "love China, love Hong Kong" has its roots in remarks made by the late patriarch Deng Xiaoping two decades ago clarifying the meaning of being a patriot, remarks by another Beijing leader show.

The central government official's views, cited yesterday by lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, are reminiscent of the criteria that the leader laid out.

The phrase, "love the motherland and love Hong Kong", was first mentioned during a June 1984 meeting with prominent Hong Kong politicians, including then executive councillors Chung Sze-yuen and Lydia Dunn.

Deng said patriots must form the main body of administrators in the city's post-handover government.

"A patriot is one who respects the Chinese nation, sincerely supports the motherland's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and wishes not to impair Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," he said.

"We don't demand that they be in favour of China's socialist system; we ask only for them to love the motherland and Hong Kong."

About a decade later, the phrase resurfaced amid the Sino-British talks on elections in the city after the handover.

A February 1994 white paper released by the British government quoted the Chinese side as suggesting that to "uphold the Basic Law", a legislator elected in 1995 would have to "love China and love Hong Kong" if they wanted to serve in the legislature.

To meet the criteria, the lawmakers would have to uphold the resumption of Chinese sovereignty. They were not to oppose the Basic Law or take part in activities such as attempting to overthrow the Chinese government or undermine the mainland's socialist system.

Sino-British negotiations broke down in November 1993, and the "through-train" - on which members of colonial Hong Kong's last Legislative Council were to become members of the Special Administrative Region's first legislature - was derailed.