Beijing’s top official in charge of Hong Kong affairs has issued the most detailed assessment to date of President Xi Jinping’s policy direction for the city, reassuring Hongkongers their autonomy will be preserved but reminding them of the central government’s overall authority. In a 3,500-word essay published on Friday, the new director of State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Zhang Xiaoming, who this week became a full member of the party’s powerful Central Committee, explained that Xi’s assertion of Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong was prompted by a minority resisting the central government’s authority. All you need to know about Xi’s remarks on Hong Kong “It is to target the wrong words and deeds of a very small number of people who, in the name of ‘high autonomy’, resist or exclude the central government from exercising its power by law,” Zhang wrote, “or even blatantly challenge the ‘one country’ principle and the relevant bottom line.” Xi set the course for governing Hong Kong and Macau in his speech last Wednesday by calling for the melding of Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the two cities with their “high degree of autonomy” in a natural or “organic” way. Zhang highlighted five key words and phrases to decode Xi’s message: “importance”; “care”; “a full picture”; “guidance”; and “a mutual relationship”. Opinion: Xi’s talk of an ‘organic’ relationship bodes well for Hong Kong Zhang explained that the idea of comprehensive jurisdiction, which has caused the most controversy in Hong Kong, was Beijing’s “guidance” over how the “one country, two systems” policy should be implemented. Breaking it down, Zhang said Hong Kong’s autonomy originated from Beijing, which held the power to appoint the city’s chief executive and principal officials, interpret and amend the mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and decide on issues concerning constitutional development. Can Beijing’s power to interpret Hong Kong’s Basic Law ever be questioned? On significant note, he pointed out that after the handover in 1997, China had not only taken over the city’s sovereignty, but also its “governing power” – rejecting Britain’s original suggestion that the latter should remain in the hands of the British. That meant Beijing’s input was not limited to just defence and foreign affairs, he argued. At the same time he dismissed fears that Hong Kong’s autonomy would be undermined by Beijing’s jurisdiction, saying such worries were “unnecessary” as the two concepts were not contradictory. The central government would fully respect the autonomy given to the city under the Basic Law, he promised. Assertive Xi Jinping shows way for Hong Kong Zhang said Xi’s mention of one country, two systems in three different parts of his work report marked the first such acknowledgement of Hong Kong’s “importance”. The governing policy was one of 14 key elements of Xi’s thought, which was enshrined this week in the party’s constitution. While Beijing “cares” about Hong Kong and Macau, he continued, they should look into the “full picture” of national development and grasp the opportunities on offer. Zhang also urged residents of both cities to shoulder responsibility, based on their “mutual relationship” with their compatriots in mainland China, and join the “Chinese dream” envisioned by Xi. Xi Jinping gets credit for solving Hong Kong’s ‘unprecedented challenges’ Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a Beijing-based think tank, said the “comprehensive jurisdiction” assertion not only targeted pro-independence activists, but also the pan-democrats. “The opposition has long been highlighting ‘two systems’ but omitting ‘one country’,” he said. “Beijing has been reinforcing the constitutional foundation over these several years.” The idea of “comprehensive jurisdiction” was first mentioned in June, 2014 when the State Council, or cabinet, released a white paper spelling out the “accurate” understanding of one country, two systems. That spelled out Beijing full authority over Hong Kong, reminding the city that it could only have as much autonomy to run its affairs as decreed by Beijing. Pair set to lead Chinese policy on Hong Kong are a mixed bag The city’s opposition politicians, who rejected the white paper for “redefining” Hong Kong’s relationship with Beijing, criticised Zhang’s latest remarks on Friday. “They have changed the understanding of one country, two systems among Hongkongers and the international community,” Democratic Party leader Wu Chi-wai said, warning it would cause a confidence crisis over the governing principle. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.