NPC boss Zhang Dejiang blasts supporters of Hong Kong independence
Zhang Dejiang is first state leader to criticise talk of the city separating from China, warning 'we should not take these calls lightly'
The state leader overseeing Hong Kong issued a stern warning yesterday against advocates of independence and self-determination for the city, saying their calls were "intolerable" and would seriously jeopardise overall national interests.
Zhang Dejiang , chairman of the National People's Congress, was cited as saying in Beijing that such ideas were unpopular and clashed with the people's will.
It is the first time a state leader has publicly criticised talk of Hong Kong independence or a Hong Kong city-state with power for self-determination.
He also stressed safeguarding national security and development interests was a "clear red line" that could not be crossed under the "one country, two systems" principle, according to Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, Hong Kong's sole representative on the NPC Standing Committee.
Fan was among 36 Hong Kong deputies to the NPC, the national legislature, who met Zhang behind closed doors.
The idea of a city-state was advocated by Lingnan University academic Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan in a 2011 book.
Zhang did not name the scholar yesterday, but "said we should not take these calls lightly although they were advocated by a tiny minority", another NPC deputy, Brave Chan Yung, said.
"These calls are against the law, damage the interest of most Hongkongers and threaten national security … They go against the will of the people," Zhang was quoted as saying. Chan added: "Zhang said we must be vigilant."
Apart from Chin, the University of Hong Kong's student magazine Undergrad had discussed the idea of independence in its issue in February last year, drawing criticism from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his January policy address.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah urged Beijing officials to find out the reasons behind the push for independence.
Fan said such ideas were damaging as they would "hurt mainlanders' impressions of Hong Kong" and the central government might think twice about launching any favourable policies for Hong Kong.
Fan said that on the governance of the city, "Zhang said it was hard to eliminate in the near future the negative effects of Occupy Central, which reflected that young people lacked understanding about the Basic Law and the country".
He hoped the deputies would "support the local government's electoral overhaul, promote the 'one country, two systems' principle and the Basic Law, plan for Hong Kong's economic development and pay attention to the growth of the young", Fan said.
Meanwhile, Chen Zuoer , chairman of the semi- official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies think tank, told the South China Morning Post that the constitutional basis for the Basic Law came from the state constitution.
Chen was referring to Premier Li Keqiang's report on Thursday stressing Beijing would follow strictly the state constitution and the Basic Law where the city was concerned.
Also in Beijing, Guangdong provincial governor Zhu Xiaodan fielded questions on whether Hong Kong's politics had affected cooperation with the province.
"Some people in Hong Kong are making noises out of ulterior motives, but I believe the majority in Hong Kong [and] compatriots back cooperation," Zhu said.
Additional reporting by Joyce Ng