In monitoring developments in China, one has to be very careful about any minor change in wording, as it may have quite serious meaning.
We Hong Kong citizens are quite worried by the omission of the two key phrases “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy” in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) work report delivered by its Chairman Yu Zhengsheng yesterday.
The CPPCC is China’s advisory body with the status, but not the power, of a quasi parliament. However, as Yu ranks the fourth in the hierarchy of Chinese leadership, such missing words are really worrisome.
Due to China’s long history of centralism, I, as a Hong Kong citizen, have never believed that Hong Kong people are really allowed to govern Hong Kong entirely free from Chinese central government’s interference, but think a high degree of autonomy is possible. The question is: how high the degree?
Does the omission of the phrases mean that Hong Kong people will no longer be allowed to govern Hong Kong or that the degree of autonomy will be less high? That’s what worries Hongkongers.
Though Yu kept in his report the promise that Beijing would “fully and faithfully implement the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and the Basic Law“, that does not ease the worries. “One country, two systems” means that Hong Kong is allowed to maintain its capitalist system. It is meaningless now as China itself is also capitalist.
Article 16 of the basic law provides, “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be vested with executive power. It shall, on its own, conduct the administrative affairs of the Region in accordance with the relevant provisions of this Law. ”
That obviously means that Hong Kong’s executive power is restricted by the Basic Law and that the degree of Hong Kong’s autonomy, however high, is limited by the Basic Law.
The two phrases are mentioned to stress Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and executive power, but when the restriction and limit are stressed now, the two phrases are omitted. We will wait and see whether that is why the two phrases are omitted.
What can we Hongkongers do if that is the case? We are helpless. We can only hope that we will still be able to enjoy the freedom and human rights we enjoy now.
Source: Yu Zhengsheng “CPPCC work report” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
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