Basic Law oath-taking interpretation a major achievement, National People's Congress head says

Zhang Dejiang says interpretation embodied the will of 1.3 billion Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 4:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 11:29pm

The head of China’s top legislature has declared the Basic Law interpretation that effectively banned two separatist lawmakers was a “major achievement” ­reflecting the firm will of all ­Chinese people against Hong Kong independence.

In his annual work report yesterday, National Peo­ple’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang ­said the interpretation “had ­embodied the firm will of 1.3 billion Chinese people to safeguard” national sovereignty.

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Highlighting the interpretation as among the NPC’s top six achievements, Zhang’s message was to his mainland audience, of Beijing’s determination to quash such renegade sentiments in the city.

As part of this tougher stance against the city, the NPC also announced on Wednesday that those running for election to be Hong Kong deputies to the national legislature next year must pledge allegiance to the nation and declare they did not receive foreign funds.

The new rules – which were not explicitly spelt out for other deputies – come months after the NPC Standing Committee handed down a Basic Law ruling that banned two lawmakers, Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, for their insults and antics during their oath-taking.

At the NPC plenary meeting, Zhang, the top Beijing official in charge of the city’s affairs, stressed that Hong Kong was inseparable from China. “To attempt ‘Hong Kong independence’ is to attempt secession, a serious violation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, the constitution of China and the Basic Law.

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“This interpretation fully demonstrates the Chinese central leadership’s resolve in upholding the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and its firm stand against ‘Hong Kong independence’.”

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Earlier this week, Premier Li Keqiang denounced Hong Kong independence in his work report, warning it would “lead nowhere”.

NPC deputy Stanley Ng Chau-pei, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said Zhang highlighted the interpretation because it succeeded in cooling down sentiment. “It is a big move,” he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, NPC vice-chairman Wang Chen explained the decision last November on the new rules for the election of Hong Kong NPC deputies next January.

“In order to safeguard national security and prevent foreign powers from interfering in the election of NPC deputies ... anyone standing in the election shall state ... that he or she has not received and will not receive, directly or indirectly, any form of funds in relations to the said election from any foreign institution, organisation or individual,” he said.

NPC delegate Maria Tam Wai-chu, who is also a Basic Law Committee member, said the new rules for the NPC election stemmed from the oath-taking fracas. They should have been there “a long time ago”, she said.

“The reason for it appearing now is very clear. We all understood what happened in the Legislative Council and we are not going to let it happen in the NPC election,” she said.