【明報專訊】ZHANG DEJIANG, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress who oversees Hong Kong affairs, gave his speech at the forum commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the HKSAR's Implementation of the Basic Law in Beijing. He reiterated that the central government had plenary powers over Hong Kong, adding that the relationship between the central government and the HKSAR government was such that the former granted the latter the authority to administer Hong Kong. Practically speaking, though the central government has stressed that the relationship between itself and Hong Kong is such that the latter is subordinate to the former, it has failed to make reasonable adjustments to Hong Kong political system accordingly. If this remains the case, there will not be any improvements in the governance of Hong Kong even if the central government adopts a high profile.
ENG audio 1
In 2007 — Hong Kong's 10th anniversary of the handover — Wu Bangguo, the then Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, highlighted the authority of the central government when discussing the power structure between the central government and Hong Kong. "Hong Kong has as much authority as granted by the central government", he said. Recently Zhang Dejiang proposed the theory of "the grantor and grantee", saying that some people in Hong Kong were advancing their "inherent power", "autonomy" and even "self-determination" and "Hong Kong's independence" and were trying to deny the central government's authority over Hong Kong and separate Hong Kong from China. It can be seen that the central government's comments on the power structure between itself and Hong Kong made recently were different in nature from those made ten years ago. Zhang's analysis reveals the growing complexity and escalating tension.
ENG audio 2
It deserves attention that while the central government has repeatedly emphasised its role in Hong Kong affairs and its supreme position, such a view has not been universally accepted over the past ten years. This is particularly the case with the younger generation, who not only disagree with the view but also are resistant to it. The pan-democratic camp's political influence has not weakened either.
ENG audio 3
Take Zhang's comments about Hong Kong's political system as an example. He has made it clear that there is not "a separation of three powers", nor is Hong Kong's system a "legislative-led" or "judiciary-led" one. Instead, Hong Kong's political system is one led by the executive branch with the Chief Executive as the core. Twenty years after Hong Kong's handover, Hong Kong has exhausted itself in internal conflicts, which has been a drag on its development. All this is attributable to the fundamental defects in the political system. The executive does not enjoy strong support in the Legislative Council, so much so that the executive-led system exists in name only. The legislature has limited power and is unable to play a leading role in Hong Kong's governance. The executive, on the other hand, is hamstrung by the Legislative Council whenever it tries to govern. This is the actual situation Hong Kong is faced with.
ENG audio 4
"One country, two systems" is itself a self-contradictory combination. In order to maintain its harmony, there must be clear boundaries between the "one country" and "two systems" parts that must never be overstepped. If too much stress is placed on "one country", this will suppress the space for "two systems". If the "two systems" is pursued without giving proper regard to its limits, that will threaten the authority of "one country" and provoke a backlash. Objectively speaking, the central government's repeated emphasis on its leading position is targeted at the separatist ideology. However, while the central government tries to clear up matters, it has to make sure that its actions will not lead to any after-effects that Hong Kong finds insufferable. Many people have previously said that "Hong Kong's independence" will only lead us to a blind alley, and that it will make the central government tighten its policies towards and grip on Hong Kong. This, unfortunately, has turned out to be true, as can be seen from the way things are developing. Hong Kong as a whole is paying the price for a handful of people's illusions. We can only hope that the central government will approach the issue with circumspection so that the fight against the independence movement will not plunge Hong Kong into an abyss.