Explicitly recognise Communist Party as China’s rulers, Hong Kong legislators tell government
- Lawmakers urge officials to explain the government’s position on Communist Party activities in the city after furore over members’ meeting at City University
The Hong Kong government should openly recognise the Communist Party as China’s rulers and make clear there is nothing wrong with members holding meetings in the city, pro-Beijing lawmakers said on Wednesday.
They were responding in the legislature to concerns that the party had formed branches in Hong Kong, and after a government official failed to state the government’s position plainly.
Democratic Party legislator Helena Wong Pik-wan referred to recent media reports stating that “temporary branches of the Chinese Communist Party” had held a meeting at City University last month. She asked if the government would stop party members from holding political activities on campuses.
The meeting was held with judges from China’s National Judges College which comes under the Supreme People’s Court. An article posted on the college website said the meeting was attended by dozens of mainland judges attending postgraduate courses at the university.
City University responded to the reports by saying it was surprised by the news, and that it had told the college not to host such meetings on campus.
Responding to Wong, acting secretary for constitutional affairs Andy Chan Shui-fu would only say the government respected the autonomy of tertiary institutions and believed they were able to deal properly with incidents on their campuses.
Asked if a Communist Party branch in Hong Kong needed to register under the Societies Ordinance, he gave the official line that “a local society shall apply to the Societies Officer for registration or exemption from registration within one month of its establishment”.
Neither the pro-democracy nor pro-Beijing camps were satisfied with his answers.
The pan-democrats accused him of leading them nowhere and doing nothing to allay concerns about Hong Kong’s shrinking autonomy.
Equally dissatisfied, pro-Beijing lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin said Chan’s lack of clarity was tantamount to doubting the party’s status, and asked: “Why can’t the Hong Kong government be upright and frank in recognising that the Chinese Communist Party is the ruling party in China?
“Does the government think the CCP is an illegal society, or party members cannot hold meetings here?”
Another pro-Beijing lawmaker, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, went further and urged the government to amend the Societies Ordinance to exempt the party from having to register in Hong Kong.
Stating for the record that he was not a party member, Ho said: “Being a CCP member is nothing shameful. The CCP is the ruling party in China and its existence and operation in the city can surely go above board.”
Chan did not respond further to these lawmakers’ comments.
Can the Communist Party’s unprecedented endorsement calm the frayed nerves in China’s private sector?
Separately, the government clarified on Wednesday that in principle, lawyers helping the outlawed Hong Kong National Party to fight against an unprecedented ban would not be viewed as breaking the law.
In response to a question by lawmaker Au Nok-hin, acting chief secretary Wong Kam-sing said the city’s mini-constitution protected the right of residents to legal representation.
“It is clear that seeking legal advice or acting as a legal representative in principle does not contravene the Societies Ordinance,” Wong said.
The National Party was banned following calls by its leaders for Hong Kong to separate from China.