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Basic Law

How will life look in Hong Kong after 2047? New think tank looks to map out city’s future

Platform will allow young scholars from all sides of the debate to set out blueprint for city after ‘one country, two systems’ guarantee expires

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 5:25pm

A think tank launches on Sunday with the aim of fostering dialogue between young people in Hong Kong and the mainland on the “one country, two systems” blueprint guaranteeing the city’s freedoms and the way forward after it expires in 2047.

Members of the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum, convened by Henry Ho Kin-chung, former political assistant at the Development Bureau, include associate law professor Tian Feilong of Beihang University in Beijing, and Li Xiaobing, an associate professor at Nankai University’s law school in Tianjin.

“There are bound to be conflicts in the implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ blueprint, and we believe the differences could be narrowed down via dialogues,” Ho said.

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Under Article 5 of the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution – the mainland’s socialist system was not implemented in Hong Kong after the handover in 1997, and the city’s capitalist system was guaranteed for 50 years.

Ho sees the think tank as a two-way platform that will allow mainland scholars to reach out to the city and at the same time channel Hongkongers’ voices to the country.

He joined Tsinghua University’s law school as a visiting scholar for a year in 2013 after resigning from the government. While there he met a group of young scholars researching Hong Kong with a different mindset to older academics.

Hongkongers could influence the central government’s policy on the city via such exchanges with these mainland scholars, who served as advisers to Beijing, Ho said.

Tian caused a stir last month by suggesting foreign judges could soon fade from Hong Kong courts. His remarks came after High Court judge David Dufton sentenced seven police officers to two years behind bars for assaulting pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during the Occupy movement in 2014.

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Ho said the viewpoints of the mainland scholars were very diversified, and it was a good thing for them to receive feedback – and criticism – from Hongkongers.

The number of mainland researchers and think tanks on Hong Kong affairs rises and falls in line with the city’s political situation. They shrank after the handover but revived in 2003 when half a million people protested against plans to introduce national security legislation, and again in the wake of the Occupy protests.

Ho said his think tank would be different from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau studies – a semi-official think tank of which he is also a member – as it would not focus only on research but also dialogue.

A number of legal and political academics, including the legal chief of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, Wang Zhenmin, Basic Law Committee member Rao Geping and Tian, will attend the think tank’s debut seminar on Sunday.