National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo's reminder about the limits to Hong Kong's autonomy would help guide the upcoming debate on the city's constitutional reform and clear up misunderstandings among some Hong Kong people, a mainland drafter of the Basic Law says.
Renmin University law professor Xu Chongde, dubbed one of the 'guardians of the Basic Law', was among members of the pro-Beijing camp who interpreted Mr Wu's remarks as trying to ensure that Hong Kong proceeded on the right track.
Professor Xu said the remarks could help avoid 'detours' in the debate on the city's path to universal suffrage. He said all of Hong Kong's powers were authorised by the central government and were not inherent to the city, just as with any mainland city or province.
'The Basic Law has been implemented for nearly 10 years but some people in Hong Kong and the mainland lack correct understanding of the mini-constitution,' the law professor said. 'There is a need for state leaders such as Mr Wu to set the record straight so as to clear up unnecessary misunderstandings.'
Mr Wu on Wednesday told a forum marking the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the Basic Law that there was no question of Hong Kong being entitled to 'residual power' - power to manoeuvre in areas not overtly granted to it by Beijing.
His remarks appeared to be a warning regarding how much influence Hong Kong people will have on the pace of the city's democratisation, ahead of a consultation on its political reform programme due to begin this summer.
Professor Xu said it was necessary to lay down some 'correct understanding' of the Basic Law before the debate on the path to universal suffrage began.
'People are free to put forward their proposals for political reform but Mr Wu's speech can let us differentiate which proposals are radical or unrealistic,' he said.
'It can help us avoid detours during the debate.'
Lau Nai-keung, a member of the Basic Law Committee under the NPC Standing Committee, said he believed that many people in Hong Kong failed to grasp the true essence of the relationship between the central government and the special administrative region.