Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping’s message to Hong Kong: protect national security and help China on global stage

  • Top Beijing official overseeing Hong Kong affairs lays out key takeaways from president’s 4,600-word speech earlier this week
PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 11:28pm

President Xi Jinping has underlined the need for Hong Kong to help the Chinese central government safeguard national security, according to a top Beijing official overseeing local affairs.

Zhang Xiaoming, the head of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, also said the president wanted Hong Kong to do more on the global stage and in international bodies.

Expanding on remarks by Xi earlier this week, Zhang said Beijing hoped “Hong Kong and Macau can become positive factors in national governance, and play an active role in the nation’s participation in global management”.

At a meeting with top officials and business leaders from Hong Kong and Macau on Monday, Xi urged China’s two special administrative regions to exercise “self-awareness” in protecting national security.

He also said the cities should be more active in helping govern the country, and he praised their “unique and irreplaceable” role in China’s reform and opening up process over the last 40 years.

State news agency Xinhua later reported that during a closed-door session of the meeting, Xi listed his “four hopes” for Hong Kong and Macau. The president was reported as saying the two cities should take part in national governance, support the country’s opening up, integrate with national developments, and promote international people-to-people exchanges.

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Xi also called on those present to help young people in Hong Kong and Macau solve pressing problems they faced.

Zhang, who attended Monday’s meeting with Xi alongside Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Wang Zhimin, the head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city, pointed to six key thrusts for the city that the president had identified.

One point, he said, was that Xi had made it clear Beijing would press on with reform and opening.

“This is not just a solemn promise to reassure the hearts of Hong Kong and Macau compatriots, but also a political declaration for the international community,” Zhang said.

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Xi’s speech also offered broad guidelines for Hong Kong and Macau’s future, he added.

“Xi said Hong Kong and Macau still have their unique status and strengths … This was encouraging as it responded to some people’s worries that the two cities will be weakened and marginalised as the mainland grows.

“But the president also emphasised that the two cities need to have self-awareness in protecting national security.”

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Xi and Zhang’s underscoring of national security showed the Hong Kong government had not done enough to lay the groundwork for local legislation.

Hong Kong and Macau played ‘unique and irreplaceable’ roles in China’s reform and opening up, Xi Jinping says while urging both cities to protect national security

“In Beijing’s eyes, you should at least start preparing for it and try to raise people’s awareness about the importance of national security,” Lau said.

On participation in global affairs, Lau believed Xi and Zhang had the US-China trade war in mind.

“Hong Kong can support Beijing in global affairs by safeguarding the multilateral and rule-based international order, because Hong Kong champions free trade and opposes protectionism,” he said.

Hong Kong must walk a tightrope between its desire for freedom and Beijing’s national security concerns

On Monday Xi praised former World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, a Hongkonger, for her work on the international body, and spoke of the need to stay globally engaged.

He gave “full recognition” to Hong Kong and Macau for their unique role in China’s rise and expressed confidence that the “one country, two systems” formula under which they are governed would continue to succeed.

Liaison office chief Wang on Wednesday convened a meeting with China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, Xie Feng, as well as People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong garrison chief Tan Benhong and other members of the liaison office. The meeting was held to discuss Xi’s speech and touched on national security and other topics.

In a statement, a spokesman for the liaison office said: “Xi’s important speech was heart-warming, encouraging and pointed out the direction for authorities.

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“It was an important guideline for the successful implementation of ‘one country, two systems’.”

At a media session on Monday afternoon, Lam said the issue of national security legislation had not come up in her meeting with Xi. However, a transcript published hours later by state media showed Xi in his 4,600-word speech had said Hong Kong and Macau should exercise “self-awareness” in protecting national security.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Lam said she had previously not disclosed all the details of the president’s speech because “at the time, Xinhua news agency had not yet published President Xi’s remarks from the closed-door meeting”.