Xu Chongde, last of the four 'Basic Law guardians', dies aged 85
Gary Cheung in Beijing and Emily Tsang
Xu Chongde, the last of the four mainland academics dubbed the "guardians of the Basic Law", has died aged 85.
Xu, a law professor at Renmin University in Beijing, died in the nation's capital on Monday. His funeral will be held at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery on Friday.
In a statement, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed sadness and described Xu as a "renowned scholar in our country's constitutional studies".
Xu, who once said some Hong Kong people lacked a "correct understanding" of the mini-constitution and who criticised pan-democrats for stirring up trouble, served as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee between 1985 and 1990. He was also a member of the preparatory committee that oversaw Hong Kong's handover and the establishment of the special administrative region. And he was a drafter of the Macau Basic Law.
He disappeared from the media spotlight after the handover but gained attention again when debate on Hong Kong's political reform was renewed in 2003.
"I have greatly benefited from working with Professor Xu for many years on the drafting of the Basic Law and in the preparatory committee," Leung said.
"Professor Xu was actively involved in the preparatory work for Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the establishment of the HKSAR. He has made outstanding contributions to both the country and Hong Kong."
Chan Wing-kee, a member of the standing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, praised Xu for his contribution to the drafting of the Basic Law and the democratic development of Hong Kong.
Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee who had known Xu for 30 years, said he was saddened by his death.
"Xu made a huge contribution to the drafting and amending of several versions of the constitution of our country, as well as the Basic Law of Hong Kong and Macau," Rao said. "He also contributed to facilitating a correct understanding of the Basic Law over the past two decades."
In 2007, Xu said all of Hong Kong's powers were authorised by the central government and were not inherent to the city, as with any mainland city or province.
"The Basic Law has been [in force] for nearly 10 years but some people in Hong Kong lack a correct understanding of the mini-constitution," he said.
The pan-democrats had done nothing for Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, he added. "What they have been doing over the years are attempts to stir up trouble."
Born in Jiangsu , Xu graduated from Fudan University in 1951. He was 25 when he helped draft the first constitution of the people's republic in 1954.