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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 11:10am
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Beijing's white paper 'breaches 1984 pact with Britain'

Contentious white paper effectively invalidates a Sino-British declaration that laid out terms for Hong Kong's handover: ex-Zhao Ziyang aide

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 3:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 9:35am
 

The central government's white paper on "one country, two systems" is in serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and is tantamount to degrading Hong Kong to the status of a local government under Beijing's rule, a former top aide of reformist leader Zhao Ziyang says.

Bao Tong was the most trusted aide to Zhao, who signed the Joint Declaration in 1984 in his capacity as China's premier.

Bao's criticism was the strongest yet issued against the white paper, released last Tuesday, outlining Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong.

Through the Joint Declaration, "Beijing was announcing to the whole world that apart from foreign affairs and defence [in Hong Kong] Hongkongers will manage themselves in everything else - this is [what is meant by] 'Hongkongers ruling Hong Kong'," Bao told Hong Kong's Cable TV in Beijing yesterday.

"If there was a second meaning, it should have been written in the Joint Declaration."

The document, signed by China and Britain on December 19, 1984, set out the terms of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

Bao challenged the white paper's claim that the city derived its powers solely from the central leadership's authorisation. "Can this still be called 'one country, two systems'?" he asked.

"The powers of Jiangsu and Shanghai also come from the central government … and that is 'one country, one system'.

"[The white paper] is effectively saying 'one country, two systems' is merely a joke … and abolishes the Joint Declaration."

Bao also elaborated on his views in an article published on the Chinese website of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

A government spokesman said Bao had misunderstood the Basic Law. The high degree of autonomy granted to Hong Kong gave it a much wider scope of power than any mainland region.

Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu defended the white paper, instead accusing past administrations of not doing enough to promote the Basic Law, which she said could be why Hongkongers had only a vague understanding of the "one country, two systems" policy.

Meanwhile, it emerged that high-powered talks with Beijing and local officials to discuss the white paper could be delayed until Occupy Central, which threatens to block Central roads to push for democracy, ended its "referendum" on June 22.

It was understood that Zhou Bo, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Basic Law Committee deputy director Zhang Rongshun were to visit Hong Kong on Thursday to attend at least two seminars to explain the white paper to senior government officials, civil servants, lawmakers, professionals and business representatives.

But the paper drew fierce criticism from pan-democrats, and it now appeared the trip could be delayed, a source close to the matter told the South China Morning Post. If that were true, Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung said, it could be related to protesters' storming of the Legislative Council building on Friday to oppose new-town development.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

Paradox314
Obviously the top aid to the Chinese signatory does NOT MISunderstand the basic law.
Central government authorities will say anything to discredit him.
.
He is a brave man with tremendous integrity. He said what he did knowing full-well the terrible weight of his action. He has sacrificed his own immediate personal interest in the service of Truth - he spoke truth to power. He must stand as an inspiration to every Chinese citizen with right of abode in Hong Kong. Here is a man who DOES love China - a true patriot who yearns for the rule of Truth and righteousness within his mother land.
sipsip1238
Bao Tong - I think a lot people in Hong Kong appreciates the honesty...
Sadly...the Central Government will most likely find a way to silence him now...
Stay safe.
blue
"A government spokesman said Bao had misunderstood the Basic Law. The high degree of autonomy granted to Hong Kong gave it a much wider scope of power than any mainland region."

There's no misunderstanding. International law experts who aren't under the thumb of Beijing all state that HK's powers are derived from the Joint Declaration and not solely derived from Beijing. Beijing's powers with regards to HK are clearly outlined by the Basic law.

ejmciii
Who in HK does not grasp One Nation-Two Systems other than the mainland minions seeking to torpedo same. We know that China is the national government. It handles defense and foreign policy. Theoretically everything else is for HK to decide within its borders. HK people seem to grasp the same pretty well. The problem is that the Mainland agreed to a number of provisions because of its uncontrollable desire to take over from the Brits. So it goes. There are things that HK people probably would have done differently were they at the table. It's only another 35 years until you can order us around like the drones on the Mainland.
tkruemmer
Beijing's move is political, if it has economic repercussions is of a lesser concern to Beijing. Beijing will change the status quo, whenever it deems fit. I totally agree with you, however, that Beijing simply does not seem understand the supreme importance of an impartial judiciary for the world financial business to function, and if China wants to seriously participate in it, it will have to provide such a judiciary. There is, however, little precedence of China participating in any game, rules of which it can not rig.
sinohog
This came as a shock to me. What the mainland doesn't seem to understand, is that there is a concept called "country risk" that most American firms and investors factor in their risk assessments. The risk of the rule of law in Hong Kong being weakened just went up as this paper seemed to imply that the party as the ultimate say, regardless what The Basic Law may say. Subject to Approval seems to imply that they may change what they want in Hong Kong as they see fit. How does this apply to such matters as strict and comprehensive auditing standards that exist now but may result in uncomfortable questions being raised about mainland firms that are listed in HK? Right now the issue seems to be political demonstrations. What happens if their is a financial scandal regarding a mainland listed company that is triggered by an American auditor asking questions that aren't allowed on the mainland? Singapore has a very stable administration and is competing for regional headquarters. This just changed the equation to Hong Kong's detriment and to the detriment of those of us who have long term interests in HK.
In a worst case scenario, American firms could minimize their risk exposure such reinterpretations by moving administrative functions offshore if HK is considered the same as the mainland and relying more on mainland contractors as they did in the 1980s. That would greatly devalue the skills of those of us who know South China fairly well.
Paradox314
RMY - You are floating weightless in a moral vacuum that is slowly sucking out the last remaining traces of your humanity. Wake up!! - before it is too late for your soul.
tkruemmer
The one country - two systems concept gave Hong Kong the false hope of perpetuity of this concept. I believe that from the very beginning the vision on Beijing side was, to bring the mainland up to Hong Kong standards and eventually merge Hong Kong with the mainland as painlessly as possible. This, however, politically speaking, would require Hong Kong to stand still, while China continues to evolve. In order for that vision to fly, Beijing cannot and will not allow any major political change in Hong Kong, granting freedoms/rights/suffrage in excess of what Beijing plans to grant to the rest of China.
chaz_hen
It's just too bad that all from the CCP that are brave enough to speak the truth or counter the hierarchy are usually old, infirm, exiled or about to die...
chuchu59
He may be old, he may be out of power but he talks sense. Should there have been a second meaning, it would have been cited in the Joint Declaration. Now that everything is supposed to be done and dusted we are told Beijing has the final word on everything including our autonomy. I agree that HK must not be used as a place for subversion against the country but on other matters aren't we supposed to have our own say?

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