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Justice secretary vows to educate Hongkongers on one country, two system. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Justice secretary pledges to boost Hongkongers’ understanding and respect of ‘one country, two systems’

  • Safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interest is ‘highest principle’ of adopting one country, two systems governing principle, Paul Lam says
  • Rita Fan says anti-government campaigns are largely caused by people’s lack of understanding of mainland China’s system

Hong Kong’s justice secretary has pledged to boost education to increase residents’ awareness and respect of the country’s fundamental system under the Chinese Communist Party leadership, stressing the most important task is to safeguard the “one country” principle.

Speaking at a forum on Monday, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok also stressed that safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests was the “highest principle” of adopting the one country, two systems governing principle.

“To be able to fully and accurately implement one country, two systems, the most important criterion is to safeguard the one country principle,” he said. “In practice, it is to ask all Hong Kong residents to have the awareness to respect and safeguard the country’s fundamental system, that has been stated in the [Chinese] Constitution.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam. Photo: May Tse

“I have also said on other occasions that the key is to nurture their awareness so that they will not only understand what the country’s fundamental system is, but also voluntarily and willingly respect and follow the system.”

The minister was speaking to 200 attendees of the “One Country, Two Systems and the Basic Law” forum.

The constitution states that “the socialist system is the fundamental system of the People’s Republic of China”, and that “leadership by the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics”. It also bans any group or individual from “damaging the socialist system”.

Speaking at the same event, Deputy Chief Secretary Cheuk Wing-hing also stressed that to enable the one country, two systems governing principle to be implemented successfully, Hong Kong should acknowledge “the central government’s overall jurisdiction” so as to safeguard the high degree of autonomy the city was granted.

Deputy Chief Secretary Cheuk Wing-hing. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Both Lam and Cheuk also highlighted that Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu had pledged to step up constitution and Basic Law education in his maiden policy address delivered two weeks ago.

Fellow speaker, pro-Beijing heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, concurred and said there was an urgent need to step up education on the constitution.

She said that many of the anti-government campaigns in recent years, including the Occupy movement in 2014, and the social unrest in 2019, were largely caused by the people’s lack of understanding of the mainland system.

“Many people do not understand that there would not have been the high degree of autonomy under the one country, two systems if it had not been made possible in the constitution,” Fan said.

Hong Kong politician Rita Fan. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Monday’s three-hour forum, co-hosted by Bauhinia Magazine and the policy think tank Tianda Institute at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, was also attended by local politicians and mainland legal scholars who discussed the implications of the recent 20th party congress for Hong Kong.

Speakers highlighted that President Xi Jinping’s work report during the congress had emphasised that the one country, two systems principle was a great innovation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. And the revised party constitution also pledged that one country, two systems would be implemented “fully, faithfully, and resolutely”.

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They said the move showed the party’s determination to adhere to and implement the policy.

Speaking via teleconference, Tsinghua University law Professor Wang Zhenmin, also a former legal affairs chief at Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, urged the city’s residents to study the spirit of the 20th session of the party congress.

An accurate understanding of the spirit of the congress would help facilitate the steady and successful implementation of one country, two systems as well as the country’s policies, Wang said.