The National People’s Congress’ (NPC) deliberation on a decision to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to implement patriots administering Hong Kong aims at implementing the “one country, two systems” policy unswervingly to ensure the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country.
Governance power should be in the hands of patriots anywhere in the world. Patriot administration is therefore a basic requirement. When formulating the concept of “one country, two systems”, Mr Deng Xiaoping had stated that patriots must be the mainstay of the idea of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”. Therefore, the criterion of patriots administering Hong Kong has already been included in the “one country, two systems” principle. To better implement patriots administering Hong Kong, it is crucial to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR. As such, the constitutional order as set out in the Constitution and the Basic Law could be effectively safeguarded, thus ensuring the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
In the past few years, some people have been promoting through different channels the idea that there is no need to abide by the laws, or spreading anti-China sentiments seeking to disrupt Hong Kong. In 2019, our society was disturbed by violent acts with some people even advocating openly for Hong Kong independence, while some radical separatist forces entered the Hong Kong SAR’s governance framework through different elections. It is revealed that the existing electoral system in the Hong Kong SAR has clear loopholes. Necessary measures must be taken to ensure “one country, two systems” is fully and accurately implemented on the right track.
China is a unitary state. According to the constitutional structure of China, power comes from the central authorities. The Hong Kong SAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy. However, some matters including national security and constitutional order in relation to the Hong Kong SAR are still within the purview of the central authorities. As the highest organ of state power in the People’s Republic of China, the NPC has the power to introduce laws and other legal instruments including making decisions under the Constitution. After thorough and careful study, the central authorities proposed an approach combining decision plus amendment to improve the Hong Kong SAR’s electoral system.
The first step is decision. The NPC, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the Basic Law, and the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR (National Security Law), makes a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR, and authorises its Standing Committee (NPCSC) to amend Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law in accordance with the decision. It provides a solid legal basis as the NPC has the power and duty to ensure the full implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The second step is amendment. The NPCSC, under its mandate, will amend Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law in accordance with the law, setting out specific and clear provisions for the new electoral system to be implemented in the Hong Kong SAR. The Hong Kong SAR will then amend relevant local laws accordingly.
The central authorities should take the lead to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR in accordance with the Constitution, the Basic Law, the National Security Law and other relevant legal instruments. It followed the constitutional order of China and is applicable to the Hong Kong SAR. It is also in line with “one country” and respects “two systems”.
I will lead the colleagues of the Department of Justice to assist relevant policy bureaus in completing the legislative amendments with dedicated efforts, with a view to implementing the decision to improve the Hong Kong SAR electoral system at the earliest possible.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng wrote this article and posted it on the Department of Justice website on March 6.