In a review of the first anniversary of the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said that the law has reversed the chaos in Hong Kong and that excluding anti-China elements from the SAR’s governance structure is an “ironclad bottom line. Analysts believe that Xia’s comments reflect Beijing’s tight control over future elections in Hong Kong.
A seminar on the first anniversary of the Hong Kong version of the national security law was held online Friday (July 16). Three hundred people attended the meeting, which was held by video link from Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Macau Chief Executive He Yicheng.
Xia Baolong, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the Chinese State Council, delivered a speech of about one hour. He said that the “Hong Kong version of the national security law” to reverse the chaos in Hong Kong, to become the “guardian of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability”, Hong Kong will be promising at the same time, must strictly implement the “patriots rule Hong Kong”. To ensure that the next three elections, the regime in the hands of patriots love Hong Kong, will not allow any anti-China chaos in Hong Kong elements into the ruler. He said this is an “iron bottom line”, the Hong Kong government to strictly check, the whole process of supervision and review.
Xia Baolong listed five conditions for governing Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive election will be held in less than a year. Xia Baolong also said that it is not easy to govern Hong Kong well, but must have both moral and talent, and have the ability to govern. He put forward five conditions, including a firm stance, full and accurate implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy; good at cracking the contradictions and problems in Hong Kong, the courage to take charge, dare to take on the tough, the mountain can open up the road, the water can build a bridge; effective crack housing, employment, health care and other outstanding issues; good at doing practical things for the people, to the people’s urgent need to solve the people’s problems. We should be good at doing practical work for the people, should sense the urgency of the people and solve their problems, should be close to the grassroots and grounded; should be good at uniting the strengths of all sides and breaking down the portal views; and should be good at performing our duties and being responsible patriots.
Chen Duanhong, vice president of the National Association for the Study of Hong Kong and Macau, said democracy must be pursued under the premise of national security.
He said, “Some Western countries, in particular, are always accusing us of national security laws and reforms of the electoral system that are inconsistent with the goal of universal suffrage, or whether the development of democracy in Hong Kong is being hindered. I think this can actually be said to be misunderstanding or deliberate misinformation. In fact, it’s not that we don’t want democracy, Hong Kong wants democracy, but it must have a bottom line, without the state, what’s the point of elections?”
Han Dayuan, a member of the Basic Law Committee and a professor at the Law School of Renmin University of China, stressed at the meeting that maintaining national security is a constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR government.
He said, “In his ‘July 1 Speech’, President Xi specifically talked about the need to implement a good legal system and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in the Special Administrative Region (SAR), which was specifically addressed to the SAR, and Article 7 of the National Security Law also clearly stipulates that the SAR shall enact the ‘ legal system for the maintenance of national security as stipulated in the Basic Law, and the improvement of the relevant system of national security.”
Will the democratic camp in Hong Kong be able to pass the electoral threshold and successfully “enter the gate”? According to Chen Hongyi, a member of the Basic Law Committee, all nominees should be able to get in, and it is believed that a large number of candidates will not be rejected by the Qualifications Committee.
The democratic camp is blocked?
Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairman Luo Jianxi told “Cable TV” on Friday that Xia Baolong proposed an “iron bottom line” to exclude anti-China elements from the governance structure, which is stronger than the earlier statement that patriots ruling Hong Kong “do not engage in a clear-cut The “tougher” rhetoric, coupled with the recent disqualification of a large number of candidates for the Legislative Council elections in Macau, it is difficult to predict the space for political participation in the democratic camp in Hong Kong. He believes that it may not be good for Hong Kong if the space for participation in the election is further narrowed.
Luo Jianxi stressed that the Democratic Party is willing to support “one country, two systems” and the “Basic Law”, but whether or not to run in the election depends on the political development.
Liang Wentao, a professor of political science at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University, is rather pessimistic. He told the Voice of America that Xia’s speech reflected that the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong might face a total shutdown.
Liang said, “What it’s doing should be a total shutdown of the opposition. It calls the shots. You don’t know where the bottom line is, because it draws it. There is no more opposition, only loyal opposition. It means you have to be loyal, and how is that loyalty opposed?”
As for the “anti-China chaos” elements in the mouth of Xia Baolong refers to who are they? Are they those who have participated in anti-China demonstrations, or are they members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, or are all democrats covered? The deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion believes that Xia Baolong is being deliberately vague.
The more unclear he is, the more room there will be for implementation and handling when the time comes,” said Chung. This is quite naturally in the best interest of those who hold the power. So it will definitely not spell out the issues clearly, it will be as vague and general as possible, it will use concepts that are difficult to verify, and it will deal with relevant issues according to the political needs of Beijing at the time.”
In the coming year, Hong Kong will hold three elections: the Election Committee, the Chief Executive, and the Legislative Council. All candidates will have to go through the Qualifications Committee first. The committee is chaired by Chief Secretary for Administration Lee Ka-chiu, and the three official members are Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Tsang Kwok-wai, Secretary for Home Affairs Tsui Ying-wai and Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung.
The three non-official members are former Deputy Director of the Basic Law Committee Elsie Leung, former member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Rita Fan and former President of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Zunyi Liu.
In addition to the election regulations that have been ‘refined,’ strict criteria will be added,” Chung said. The list of seven members of the (Qualification) Committee, in addition to the Secretary for Security, and other non-official members such as Elsie Leung, have always been at Beijing’s beck and call. I believe they will do exactly what Beijing wants. Since Xia Baolong said so, it is believed that the next qualification review will be very strict.”
Zhong Jianhua believes that Beijing’s tough stance is related to the development of the situation in Hong Kong in the past year.
He said, “It’s been one year since the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong. The whole general environment has not changed, or even become worse. The international community still continues to speak out about the political situation in Hong Kong. Even the U.S. president has vowed to sanction several officials of the Liaison Office. The outside world has not accepted the reality as Beijing expected. So then down the line, Beijing had to step up its efforts to try to keep the situation in Hong Kong down.”
The abolition or retention of the District Councils has caused speculation
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam recently criticized the extreme politicization of the current District Council, saying that District Council members use the District Council to oppose the Central Government and the SAR Government, and will arrange for District Council members to take the oath as soon as possible.
As government sources revealed earlier, DC members who do not meet the oath-taking requirement will be disqualified as well as their salaries recovered, triggering a large number of DC members to resign. So far, more than 210 elected DC members’ seats are left vacant. At the seminar, Xia Baolong did not state his position on the disqualification of district councilors.
Yu Yong Yi, an associate professor at the University of Macau’s Department of Government and Public Administration, told Voice of America that the SAR government’s ambiguous attitude has led to speculation about the retention or abolition of district councils.
He said, “The SAR government intends to exclude people from the system who are not considered patriotic and love Hong Kong. As public officials, the government needs them to take an oath to force those who are not patriotic and love Hong Kong to leave the political system. Earlier, someone asked Carrie Lam whether the government would hold by-elections when so many DC members are vacant. Lam did not respond. Is it that Beijing and the SAR government are considering whether there is still a need for DCs to exist.”
Western countries have criticized the Hong Kong version of the national security law and the reform of the electoral system as inconsistent with the goal of universal suffrage. In Yu Wing-yat’s eyes, Hong Kong’s original political system has long since disintegrated.
Hong Kong has now ‘fallen’ and the entire political system has disintegrated,” Yu said. Beijing and the Hong Kong SAR government are reconstructing a political system to their liking.”
Hope to solve housing difficulties in 28 years
Notably, at Friday’s seminar, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong mentioned housing, a problem of immediate concern to Hong Kong people, in his speech. He said that Hong Kong should achieve the second century goal in China, that is, by 2049, the economy should be prosperous, housing problems have greatly improved, say goodbye to sub-divided units (the house divided into several separate rooms), cage homes. Young people can say goodbye to the problem of “housing difficulties”.
According to Jianhua Zhong of the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion, it is clear that Beijing does not understand the root cause of Hong Kong’s livelihood problems.
He said, “Beijing has always believed that Hong Kong people’s political demands and dissatisfaction with the central government are due to the fact that property prices and rents are too expensive and people can’t afford to live in their homes, and as a result, they become angry. But in fact, high property prices and rents in Hong Kong are the result of an unfair system and economic imbalance. Beijing, however, thinks that building more houses will solve the problem. It’s not easy for you to reverse this situation now, as there are now an estimated 200,000 people living in so-called ‘sub-divided units’. I find it hard to imagine how the problem can be solved in the short term.”