The Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily published the third editorial in a week that claimed Beijing’s policy on Hong Kong had not changed since issues were first raised in the 1980s.
A front-page editorial called it “completely groundless” to believe that the recently published white paper – which had stirred controversy and triggered protests in Hong Kong – went against the central government’s “one country, two systems” policy.
It also said it was groundless to worry that Beijing would “narrow down” Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The State Council issued the white paper on June 10, stressing the central government’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, adding that the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the city was subject to Beijing’s oversight.
The white paper said some people in Hong Kong were “confused and lopsided” in their understanding of the “one country, two systems” policy, sparking fears in the city that the freedoms it enjoys will be undermined.
”What was elabourated in the white paper about central government policies towards Hong Kong was all based on the constitution, the Basic Law and other historical documents,” the editorial said.
The paper had provoked anger among the Hong Kong public, prompting Beijing to issue several clarifications.
On July 1, the anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding and marking 17 years since the handover, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents joined a protest, demanding real democracy and universal suffrage without Beijing screening candidates, with some people burning a copy of white paper.
Organisers said more than 500,000 took part though the Hong Kong police put the number at some 98,000.
There had been concerns in the 1980s that the policy would change, the editorial said. But then then-leader Deng Xiaoping repeatedly pledged that Beijing would respect the economic system and civil liberties of Hong Kong for 50 years after its return to China after British colonial rule.
The pledge was written in the Basic Law, showing that the central government was committed to its promise, the newspaper argued.
Mainland leaders, including Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, have made their own comments on the “one country, two systems” policy. But they are all in line with what Deng has pledged, the editorial said.
It insisted the central government had honoured its commitment, as Hong Kong has seen democratic, economic and social developments after the handover.
Implementing the “one country, two systems” policy in Hong Kong is in favour of both the city and the whole country, and the policy will not change, the newspaper said.