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Hong Kong localism and independence

Beijing pledges full support for Hong Kong to fight independence advocacy and foreign interference

Two top envoys of liaison office in city offer remarks as European Union criticises banning of pro-democracy activist from legislative by-election

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 9:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 8:15am

Beijing’s two top envoys in Hong Kong pledged on Tuesday to give their full support for the city to fight against independence advocacy and interference by foreign governments or organisations.

While foreign ministry commissioner Xie Feng highlighted working with the Hong Kong government to “oppose foreign intervention” as a key effort by his office over the past year, liaison office director Wang Zhimin said Beijing would continue helping Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration in “defending national sovereignty”.

Their remarks coincided with the European Union’s high-profile criticism of the Hong Kong government after opposition candidate Agnes Chow Ting was banned from running in the coming legislative by-election on the grounds that her party, Demosisto, advocated the idea of “self-determination” for the city, which was equated with independence advocacy by another name.

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In an article published in the latest issue of the pro-China Bauhinia magazine, Wang said Beijing would support Lam in fulfilling the city’s duty in defending national security, as well as curbing any move to separate Hong Kong from the rest of China.

“[We must] firmly reject the acts of Hong Kong independence to realise Hong Kong’s long-term governance and stability,” Wang wrote.

[We must] firmly reject the acts of Hong Kong independence to realise Hong Kong’s long-term governance and stability
Wang Zhimin, liaison office

He noted that President Xi Jinping had mentioned in a Communist Party meeting on January 5 that cadres must “remain steadfast” in pushing forward the party’s ideology and development, while strengthening their awareness of possible risks.

To meet Xi’s requirement on party development, Wang said, the liaison office would need to “be firm enough politically” and in terms of belief, responsibility, capability and style.

“Being firm politically means we must firmly support the party’s central leadership with Xi as its core … and being firm in style means we have to maintain a positive spirit, build a friendly and clean relationship with the political and business sectors, and establish the office cadres’ image as friendly, pragmatic and clean,” he wrote.

Since taking office last year, Wang has inherited his predecessor Zhang Xiaoming’s tough stance on political issues, and repeatedly warned that the idea of independence would not be tolerated.

Wang recently made headlines for declaring that his office would “work more and closer” with the city’s government in the future, which critics saw as interfering with Hong Kong affairs.

In his speech at a reception on Tuesday, Xie also highlighted the role of his office in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Reviewing the work of his office in 2017, Xie said: “We have firmly safeguarded the state sovereignty, security and development interests, supported the [Hong Kong] government in fulfilling its relevant constitutional responsibilities, and worked jointly with the [Hong Kong] government to oppose foreign intervention.”

Xie did not elaborate on or cite examples of interference.

He went on to highlight the role of his office in promoting Hong Kong’s partnership with the mainland and other countries in national development strategies.

“We took an active part in the handling of over 600 consular protection cases involving Hong Kong compatriots, to ensure that the country’s consular service is available wherever our Hong Kong compatriots make footsteps,” he added.