The central government should make no concessions to pro-democracy demonstrators – and Hong Kong must be run by “patriots”, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily and nationalist tabloid Global Times warned in two strongly-worded editorials on Wednesday.
The state run newspapers hit back following the biggest July 1 protests in the city in a decade.
Patriotism is a natural emotion and putting patriots in charge of the city should be “a matter of course”, the People’s Daily said in a front-page editorial.
The paper added the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping defined a “patriot” as those "who loyally support China’s exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and those who do not impair Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability”.
It went on: “The central government’s reiteration that Hong Kong must be governed by the Hong Kong people with patriots as the mainstay is not an intervention [in] Hong Kong’s autonomy. It is a move to clarify Hong Kong [officials'] rights and obligations written in the Basic Law.
"It is not trying to screen or select anyone. The aim is to give all Hong Kong people a reference in their hearts.”
People's Daily said that some people were still confused over the city's leadership 17 years after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
The newspaper went on to argue that regarding judges and judicial officials as Hong Kong’s administrators does not “violate in the least” judicial independence. It would also add to their responsibility to follow the Basic Law, the editorial said, responding to the protests against the white paper by the Bar Association.
Judges and judicial officials are obliged to protect national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, the paper argued.
“In any place, the judges and officials must be loyal to the country, and shoulder the responsibility to safeguard the national sovereignty and security. Hong Kong [is] no exception.”
The Global Times dismissed the protesters’ demand for universal suffrage and “genuine” democracy.
The July 1 march has become a protest tradition in Hong Kong, with "opposition groups" at the heart of the demonstrations. But the Global Times added that participants are becoming increasingly diverse and now include both “dissidents” from the mainland and even supporters of gay rights.
“Other people are either trying to express their ‘dissatisfaction’ or simply joining in the fun, seeing the protests as a party or a carnival,” it said.
Some Hongkongers see “democracy” as their only advantage over the mainland, now that the city is losing its economic edge, the newspaper added.
Global Times said: “Joining protests makes some [Hong Kong] people feel proud and superior to their mainland counterparts.
"Therefore they are willing to participate but do not really care about the results. In this way, they are exploited by the radical opposition groups.”
Both editorials were carried only in the papers’ mainland versions.