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  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 1:58am
City Beat
PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 4:57am

Debate over white paper both necessary and natural

There are many questions to be answered in Beijing's policy adjustment over Hong Kong

The day Beijing released the unprecedented white paper on "one country, two systems" proclaiming its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong, it also decided that two senior officials would head to the city to promote the paper and give a better understanding of what it entails.

But the visit was postponed suddenly, two days before their scheduled arrival date of June 19. The official reason was the pair's busy schedule. The speculation is that amid the "Occupy Legislative Council" drama and Occupy Central's unofficial referendum, Beijing didn't want to add fuel to the political fire.

The two officials - Zhou Bo, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Zhang Rongshun, deputy director of the Basic Law Committee - are no strangers to Hongkongers. Neither was this the first time Beijing had decided to send its people to Hong Kong to convince the public of an important decision or policy.

But there were seldom delays in the past. It later emerged that the "busy schedule" holding up the pair was the preparation of more supplementary materials on the white paper, as Beijing realised it could cause controversy and confusion.

Throughout the white paper, one message is clear: national interests and security prevail even under Hong Kong's two systems. Thus a key issue Zhou and Zhang would have to address is the relationship between the country's constitution and Hong Kong's Basic Law.

"In accordance with the Basic Law (on Hong Kong matters)" has been Beijing's standard phrase since the 1997 handover. But the white paper uses a new expression, stressing that it is both the constitution and the Basic Law that give the fundamental basis for Hong Kong's system. A whole chapter highlights how Beijing's various powers over Hong Kong are prescribed by both of these, not just the Basic Law.

This could be a signal from Beijing that it can no longer tolerate an interpretation that sees Hong Kong's Basic Law as being cut off from the country's constitution.

But if Beijing believes that the city lacks a sense of national interest and that Hongkongers need to understand and respect the constitution's authority on top of the Basic Law, then why has Beijing rarely touched on the matter? That is why some Hongkongers are wondering if Beijing is now tightening its definition of "two systems".

The white paper posed a riddle for all Hongkongers, regardless of their political stance. As a citizen of the country, a Hongkonger has to respect the constitution, which protects the mainland's socialist system; but under "one country, two systems", the Basic Law ensures Hong Kong's capitalist system, which is in conflict with the socialist system. Confusion is inevitable.

Can Zhou and Zhang properly answer all these questions in only a few days? Surely not. In the meantime, the white paper could be a driving force prompting more people to take to the streets and join the Occupy Central civil-disobedience movement.

But Beijing seems to have a greater concern - national interest. The drafting of the white paper began a year ago. It signals a comprehensive policy adjustment over Hong Kong in the long run; it isn't simply targeting Occupy Central and the 2017 electoral reform. Given this, prolonged debate over the paper would be both necessary and natural.

tammy.tam@scmp.com

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ianson
The tone of this piece from Editor Comrade Wang's sidekick again tells us who pulls the strings at the SCMP. "Confusion is inevitable"? What utter rubbish. The Joint Declaration and Basic Law are perfectly clear about the demarcation between Hong Kong and the mainland. And any focus on the so-called "socialist system" is hilariously outdated. The CCP runs China now as a huge capitalist machine. It is like the most wicked monopolist corporation the world has ever seen. Tammy Tam's suggestion (a deliberate attempt to lend justification to the White Paper) that there is an clash of economic systems is pure fantasy. The clash is between a pluralist society and a despotic dictatorship.
dlapiper
You've certainly been earning your CCP wings of late. If, however, your various comments that litter the articles of the SCMP, are actually intended to convince any people of Hong Kong as to their merit, you continue to fail miserably. On the other hand, you may be a democratic double agent - in which case, bravo!
ianhuayensee
Britain was once compared to the adoptive mother and China the maternal mother. HK was nurtured by the adoptive mother (never mind the rights and wrongs) and prospered for a long time. With the maternal mother coming in 1997, she the maternal mother of course wanted to ensure that the child's prosperity was not worse off, otherwise it would be a big loss of face (remember the money pumped into HK's property and financial market in 1997?). We all learned to love the country, but certainly not the CCP. To people in HK, there was NEVER any issue of sovereignty or national interests. It is all hyped up by the Commis simply because we in HK do things differently and they can't tolerate that. Little wonder people protesting about corruption and acting for activists up north are locked up. If you expect a fair trial, you might as well talk to the wall. Mother country, I love you but do YOU love me???
xeroid47@yahoo.com
The fact is the one country /two systems was mean to be transitory, it's more than 1/3 over the 50 years period. Yet to the pan-democrats it is an absolute boundary, and they are willing to leverage their demand to the prosperity of Hong Kong and gamble to force Beijing to back down. Obviously if push come to shove I doubt Hong Kong voters if giving the choice will not vote someone not approved by China into office. It obviously was a public relation win for OC. I suspect most of the pan-democrats already hold passports to U.S. and other western countries and probably moved their assets also. It is an issue certainly should be debated so people understand that China will take precedence over Hong Kong regardless the cost and threats.
hkhk
...
pdem
Delete the word capitalist and replace socialist with PRC. I think that was what was meant by the writer.
 
 
 
 
 

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