Leung Chun-ying

CY Leung refutes student’s claims, says Beijing always had power to appoint Hong Kong’s leader

In a recent article, a university student said the central government had contravened the ‘one country, two systems’ policy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 April, 2017, 9:01pm

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has taken aim at a fourth-year university student who accused Beijing of contravening the “one country, two systems” policy and encroaching on the city’s autonomy.

In a post on his official blog on Thursday, the city’s outgoing leader argued Beijing had always enjoyed the power to appoint Hong Kong’s chief executive.

On Wednesday, the Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily newspaper published an article written by fourth-year Education University student Alan Ho Kwan-lok.

In the article, Ho said Hongkongers used to understand “one country, two systems” as a framework under which the central government would deal with only the city’s defence and foreign affairs matters, as well as other areas outside the limits of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

But Ho argued that since Leung took office in 2012, the central government’s “substantive power to appoint” the chief executive had been mentioned more frequently in the media, proving that Hongkongers’ understanding of the city’s autonomy had been redefined by Beijing.

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Despite the 22-year-old being relatively unknown to the public, Leung took to his official blog to discredit the university student’s comments.

He said both the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – stipulated that the city’s chief executive “shall be appointed by Beijing”.

“The two documents also stated that Hong Kong’s principal officials shall also be nominated by the chief executive and appointed by the central government ... It shows that Beijing’s appointment power is substantive, not nominal,” Leung wrote.

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The rebuttal came just an hour after the Hong Kong government announced that Leung’s successor, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, would fly to Beijing on Sunday to receive her official letter of appointment from Premier Li Keqiang.

Leung also argued Beijing had the authority to appoint the chief executive because the city’s power “is much bigger than other cities on the mainland and abroad”. Its high degree of autonomy meant Beijing would require a leader which it could trust.

“If Hong Kong did not enjoy a high degree of autonomy ... I believe there would not be the stipulation about Beijing’s appointment [of the chief executive],” said Leung, who became a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body last month.