Reforms will help stabilize HK

2021-03-08 12:02:40

Citizens sign in support of the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle and improving the electoral system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Wan Chai district on Saturday. ZHANG WEI/CHINA NEWS SERVICE In a meeting with Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Saturday, Vice-Premier Han Zheng underlined the importance of ensuring the "one country, two systems" practice in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region always moves in the right direction. During the meeting with Hong Kong and Macao SAR members of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, Han emphasized the "patriots administering Hong Kong" principle and said the electoral system reform should fit the reality of the HKSAR. Han, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the HKSAR government should fully implement the changes to improve the electoral system once it has been made by the National People's Congress, as well as amendments to the two annexes of the Hong Kong Basic Law. A draft decision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system, centering on reform and greater empowerment of the city's Election Committee as part of the overall system design, was submitted to the fourth session of the 13th NPC for deliberation on Friday. Han stressed the need to ensure that the electoral system reflects the interests of society as a whole and to guarantee Hong Kong compatriots' extensive and balanced engagement in politics in accordance with the law. He also said patriots must hold the right to manage and administer Hong Kong. Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, delivered a speech on Friday explaining the draft decision at the opening meeting of the fourth session of the 13th NPC. Wang said the rioting and turbulence that occurred in the HKSAR revealed that its existing electoral system has clear loopholes and deficiencies, which anti-China and destabilizing elements took advantage of in an attempt to take into their hands the power to administer Hong Kong. He added that the overall design of the system will be centered around the reformation and greater empowerment of Hong Kong's Election Committee. The size, composition and formation method of the committee will be adjusted and improved. The chief executive will continue to be elected by the committee, and the committee will be entrusted with the new function of electing a relatively large number of Legislative Council members and the direct participation in the nomination of all candidates. A qualification review mechanism will also be established throughout the entire electoral process. Kennedy Wong Ying-ho, vice-president of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers' and Exporters' Association, said the city will see rational debate and stability return to the city's legislature and society with an improved electoral system. In an interview with China Daily, Wong said that only with stability will the city then be able to move on and have the space to discuss how to tackle some issues related to the city's economy and people's livelihoods. Wong, who is also a CPPCC National Committee member, said the central government has prerogative to determine matters related to HKSAR's political system, including how the city elects its top officials and lawmakers. "This is our domestic policy and we're doing it in accordance with China's Constitution," said Wong, citing Article 31 of the Constitution. Article 31 clearly stipulates that the State may establish SARs when necessary. The systems to be instituted in SARs shall be prescribed by law enacted by the NPC in light of specific conditions. Wong said the social unrest in 2019, political conflicts in previous Legislative Council meetings and the emergence of pro-independence advocacies in the city are living embodiments of why it is important and necessary to improve Hong Kong's electoral system and put emphasis on "patriots administering Hong Kong". Business leader Henry Tan, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, also weighed in. Tan expected Hong Kong to embrace a bright future led by patriotic political leaders once the system is improved. He stressed that allowing only patriots to govern the city is no different to similar requirements in other places around the world. "All countries and regions expect their political leaders and government officials to love their country or city," Tan said.