Hong Kong Basic Law

Beijing’s review of Hong Kong Basic Law necessary to restore order, mainland adviser says

Peking University expert also agrees with timing of intervention, while People’s Daily hails ruling and chief executive says no plans yet for by-election

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 11:43am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 10:18am

The interpretation of the Basic Law by China’s top legislative body was conducted in line with the “principle of necessity”, a leading mainland advisor on Hong Kong affairs says.

Jiang Shigong, deputy director of Peking University’s Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said it should be noted that this interpretation by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which pre-empted a judicial review ruling by the Hong Kong court, was not a show of disrespect or lack of trust.

“The timing of this interpretation is based on the principle of necessity in the common law, which the Hong Kong legal sector should be familiar with,” Jiang said. He was a researcher in the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong from 2004 to 2008.

A necessary intervention to keep separatists out of public office

Jiang was referring to the common law system that Hong Kong retained even after the 1997 handover.

The timing of the interpretation was also because operations in the Legislative Council had come to a standstill over the oath row, Jiang said.

He added: “To actively [engage in an interpretation] and come up with a final judgment as soon as possible will enable normal operations of Legco to resume, and [allow for] the order and the stability of Hong Kong.”

He said the opposition from some people in Hong Kong to Beijing’s intervention was inevitable due to the disparities in politics, laws and cultures under “one country, two systems.”

But all previous interpretations by the Standing Committee actively addressed requests from society in Hong Kong, and were aimed at solving problems which could not be solved by the city itself, Jiang said.

On Tuesday, reports about the Basic Law’s interpretation took up almost the entire fourth page of Beijing mouthpiece People’s Daily.

“The central government would not be soft-handed on tackling and containing ‘Hong Kong independence’,” a commentary read.

It said the interpretation issued on Monday “represents the people’s voice, the requirement of rule of law, and the force of justice”.

Of the localists’ antics, the piece added: “The nature of the speeches and acts of ‘Hong Kong independence’ is a serious one. They seek to separate the country, and directly endanger national unity, territorial integrity and security of sovereignty.

Beijing interpretation of Article 104 needed for a city in jeopardy: chairman of Basic Law committee

“They also seriously undermine the fundamental interest of all Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots. In the face of strong opposition from the public, ‘Hong Kong independence’ advocates and their supporters have refused to apologise or stop.”

The commentary noted that the interpretation “would set things clear” and “provide the foundation and guidance for Hong Kong in handling oath-taking”.

It also hailed the central government’s “firm stance in defending national security, as well as the Chinese people’s strong will to oppose separation”.

The overseas edition of the paper also ran a full page report on the interpretation, and another commentary on its front page suggesting that the ruling is a legal warning against independence.

Separately, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government had no arrangement so far for any by-election to replace the seats that would be vacated by disqualified lawmakers.

Youngspiration pair Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who were voted into the New Territories East and Kowloon West constituencies respectively, are set to lose their seats following Beijing’s ruling.

“The interpretation of law only happened yesterday,” Leung said ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.

“Should there be a vacancy in the legislature, the government would arrange a by-election as soon as possible in accordance with law.”