Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and secretary of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, joined panel discussions with National People’s Congress deputies from Hong Kong on Tuesday, during the first session of the 13th NPC in Beijing. Since being appointed head of policy research at the CPC Central Committee in 2002, Wang has been widely seen as “a top brain in Zhongnanhai (seat of the central government)” and accompanied three Party general secretaries — Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao as well as current General Secretary Xi Jinping — on their inspection tours of the HKSAR and Macao SAR over the years. Wang also took part in the central government authorities’ policymaking process aimed at keeping the exercise of “one country, two systems” in the two SARs in line with the times. That is why all Hong Kong and Macao affairs watchers around the world attached great importance to his words at the panel discussions.
Wang told delegates that Hong Kong and Macao affairs are of special importance to the central government authorities when it comes to running the country. That is why Xi devoted more time and care to spelling out the CPC Central Committee’s guiding principles and strategic policies for handling Hong Kong and Macao affairs in his report at the 19th CPC National Congress than before, in addition to establishing the continuous exercise of “one country, two systems” and promoting national reunification as one of the fundamental policies for developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. By doing so the president took “one country, two systems” to a new historical level and gave the policy a fresh mission of great and profound significance.
Wang noted that, in order to thoroughly understand Xi’s Party congress report regarding Hong Kong and Macao affairs, we must keep five critical areas in mind: firstly fully and accurately observe the “one country, two systems’ principle; secondly faithfully follow the Constitution and basic laws of the SARs; thirdly proactively support the SAR governments and chief executives in governing according to relevant laws; fourthly support the HKSAR in integrating its own development into the country’s overall development strategy; and finally enhance Hong Kong residents’ national awareness and patriotic spirit.
Wang also emphasized the importance of guarding the bottom line while fully and accurately exercising “one country, two systems” — which means allowing absolutely no acts detrimental to the country’s sovereignty and national security, challenging the central government’s overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR and the authority of the HKSAR Government, or using Hong Kong as a staging area to infiltrate and sabotage the Chinese mainland. He said we must maintain zero tolerance toward “Hong Kong independence” advocacy and all other attempts to cross the bottom line, and fight them with no reservations according to relevant law.
Thus he sent a clear message to all parties concerned: the full and accurate exercise of “one country, two systems” must respect and maintain the reality that “one country” is the prerequisite of “two systems”.
That means we must handle Hong Kong affairs according to the Basic Law and Constitution, because the Basic Law is derived from the Constitution; and emphasizing the Basic Law instead of the Constitution equals to putting “two systems” above “one country”. Wang is well informed of the situation in Hong Kong, which is why he expects the executive and legislative branches of the HSKAR Government and judiciary to elevate their awareness of the Constitution and Basic Law, resolutely defend the dignity and authority of the Constitution and Basic Law and improve all systems and mechanisms facilitating the exercise of “one country, two systems”. He also appreciates the NPC deputy selection process that requires all candidates to sign a written declaration to uphold the Constitution of the PRC and Basic Law of the HKSAR, saying the requirement underlines the determination to resolutely defend the dignity and authority of the Constitution and Basic Law.
Wang praised Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the current SAR government she heads for an excellent start in pragmatic and proactive style but also told the city to be mindful of the pressure that changes in internal and external conditions would bring, as well as growing expectations of Hong Kong residents for a better life. He also reiterated that the central government will support the SAR government in doing its job well, as always.
Integrating Hong Kong’s development into the country’s overall development strategy is a core mission of advancing “one country, two systems” in the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Wang pointed out that Hong Kong, in order to achieve greater development, had no choice but to integrate its own development into the country’s overall development strategy. Many of the strategic plans listed in Xi’s report at the Party congress directly concern Hong Kong, especially the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan and the Belt and Road Initiative, both of which offer numerous opportunities the city cannot afford to miss. He is confident Hong Kong will take full advantage of those strategic projects pragmatically and proactively.
(The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings)
(Published on Page 12, China Daily Hong Kong Edition, March 8, 2018)