Hong Kong Basic Law

Beijing warns it will not tolerate 'foreign meddling' in city's election

Central government warns of interference by outside groups trying to gain a 'bridgehead'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 11:53pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 August, 2014, 4:35am

The foreign ministry has issued a tough warning against foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs ahead of Sunday's decision by Beijing on the city's electoral reform.

In a report by Xinhua yesterday, a spokesman for the ministry's department of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Affairs said Beijing would not tolerate any attempt by foreign powers to interfere in the election in order to gain a foothold in China.

"Some people ignore the Basic Law provisions and the long-term interest of Hong Kong to collude with foreign powers in an attempt to interfere [with] the government administration," the spokesman said. "It is intolerable for them to use Hong Kong as a bridgehead to subvert and infiltrate the mainland."

The spokesman added that Beijing would rebut any foreign attempts to interfere in Hong Kong and China's internal affairs.

Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the warning was obviously a message to foreign governments and their diplomats not to try to influence the upcoming electoral reform.

"It is part of the national propaganda to counter the city's pan-democrats as well as warning against the interference of foreign powers," Lau said.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is expected to set out a tough framework for Hong Kong's first election by universal suffrage.

Under a draft plan to go before the committee on Sunday for a vote, only two to three candidates would be able to run in the 2017 chief executive election, and they would need the support of half of a 1,200-strong nominating committee to get on the ballot.

Meanwhile, the spokesman reiterated that the central government "has complete responsibility for foreign affairs related to Hong Kong".

He said international organisations must sign an agreement settling legal and technical issues with the central government before setting up offices in Hong Kong.

This arrangement showed that the city did not have so-called "residual power" regarding foreign affairs, the spokesman said. Autonomy in handling external affairs was authorised by Beijing in accordance with the city's mini-constitution, he said.

A law professor at the University of Hong Kong, Albert Chen Hung-yee, who is also a member of the Basic Law Committee, said the definition of "international organisation", which included subsidiary bodies of the United Nations, was stipulated in international law.

Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, also an international relations scholar, said international non-governmental organisations, such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, would not be affected.