Sunday, 5 March 2017

Hong Kong in Li Keqiang's Report

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivering his annual work report today
This morning Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered his work report at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing.

The 20,000 word report took him about 90 minutes to read out, but journalists who have a hard copy of it can skim through it in minutes.

Towards the end Li talked about Hong Kong, and he continued the familiar refrain of upholding the "one country, two systems" principle, and that it be applied "without being bent or distorted".

What does he mean by that curious clause?

In the past 20 years we've seen an erosion of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong, but perhaps Beijing sees it another way.

Li said independence will "lead nowhere" in Hong Kong
Nevertheless, for the first time in his work report, Li spoke about Hong Kong independence, saying the movement would "lead nowhere".

It was perhaps inevitable the Premier would mention this issue, following the swearing in fiasco involving Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration, who pledged allegiance to a "Hong Kong nation" and called China insulting names the Japanese used during World War II.

That resulted in the National People's Congress Standing Committee to rule that making "insincere" oath-taking punishable by instant disqualification. Leung and Yau were later stripped of their seats in the Legislative Council.

There is a law suit under way to further disqualify four more pan-democrats...

In Li's address he said: "We will continue to implement, both to the letter and in spirit, the principle of one country, two systems, under which Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong."

He also added the Basic Law would be followed in Hong Kong and Macau. "The notion of independence will lead nowhere," he said.

Leung set to be rewarded in stopping independence
And to reward Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying for his efforts in quelling the independence movement, Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth most senior leader in China's Communist Party and chairman of the government's political advisory, said Leung will become a delegate to the advisory body.

In reality the independence movement in Hong Kong is a tiny minority. Did Leung exaggerate how serious this group was in order to be rewarded with such a post? Or is this just another way to give him a bone for not running for Chief Executive again?

Beijing is also mum about its preference of who will become the city's next chief executive. In a meeting with Hong Kong and Macau delegates, Zhang Dejiang, the National People's Congress chairman reiterated Beijing's four criteria for Hong Kong's next leader: he or she must "love the country and love Hong Kong", be trusted by Beijing, be capable of governing, and be supported by the Hong Kong people.

Oh and by the way, Zhang added, Beijing has "substantive and constitutional power" to appoint the next leader.

Does this mean John Tsang Chun-wah and Woo Kwok-hing still have a decent chance?

We'll find out March 26...

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