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Reforms can ensure patriots will govern Hong Kong

By Yang Sheng | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-26 09:41
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Witnessed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, permanent secretaries, heads of department and directorate civil servants at the rank of D6 or above swear to uphold Hong Kong's Basic Law, bear allegiance to the HKSAR, be dedicated to their duties and be responsible to the HKSAR government during a ceremony at the Central Government Offices, Hong Kong, Dec 18, 2020. [PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT]

Feb 22, 2021, will be remembered as an important day in Hong Kong history, because Xia Baolong, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, delivered a thorough explanation of "patriots governing Hong Kong" on that day.

Xia emphasized the concept must be institutionalized throughout the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to guarantee that all key government posts, the Legislative Council and the judiciary are held by true patriots. Absolutely no one hell-bent on subverting state power and messing up Hong Kong will ever hold public office. His speech practically signaled the beginning of Hong Kong's cultural and intellectual return to the motherland.

China officially resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. But because of various historical reasons, many local residents did not fully trust the motherland and instead held resistant and even hostile sentiment toward the sovereign state.

Back then, in order to achieve a smooth transition from British to Chinese rule, almost all the crucial administrative functionaries, including the civil service, such vital institutions as the judiciary, and the education sector, remained unchanged from the colonial era. That arrangement, commonly known as the through train, was meant to prevent transitional hiccups in Hong Kong and adverse effects on the reform and opening-up on the Chinese mainland.

Meanwhile, as the Chinese nation became stronger and increasingly perceived as a rival by the Western powers in the past two decades, Hong Kong has been used as a beachfront for hostile external forces to launch illegal campaigns to undermine the administration of the HKSAR government, as part of their global strategy to contain China.

Many political elites recruited and supported by Western powers have found their way into the HKSAR governance establishment, particularly the Legislative Council, through loopholes in the existing electoral system. They caused tremendous damage to Hong Kong through illegal movements over the years, forcing the central authorities to take decisive actions to uproot the scourge. It is fair to say the "black revolution" of 2019, which started in the guise of mass protests against the now withdrawn extradition law amendment bill in June that year, was the turning point for Hong Kong.

The central government has no choice but to push for electoral reform in Hong Kong, so as to plug any loophole that allows subversive elements into the HKSAR establishment to do the hostile external forces' bidding from inside.

In political science, "governance by patriots or loyalists" is both common sense and a matter of course for all sovereign states in the world. When Hong Kong was under colonial rule, all important government posts were held by British officials sent from London. Apparently, to the UK rulers, only British nationals qualified as patriots in "patriots governing Hong Kong" back in the day. It is only fair for China to fully implement the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong", which has been part and parcel of the "one country, two systems" principle from the very beginning of its conception.

Anti-China external forces and their proxies in Hong Kong are understandably mad about the "patriots governing Hong Kong "requirement, and it is not surprising at all that they accused Beijing of using electoral reform as a means to suppress the pan-democrat camp. They conveniently ignore the fact that Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of "one country, two systems", stressed repeatedly that "patriots governing Hong Kong" is the original intent and a precondition of "one country, two systems"-long before the "pan-democrat camp" became a thing.

No country in the world would knowingly let political parties or individuals hell-bent on destroying its basic system be a part of the government.

To ensure that patriots govern Hong Kong, the SAR must reform its electoral system and the civil service recruitment and promotion mechanism so that only true patriots are allowed to hold key public offices. The next and more important step would be facilitating Hong Kong society to reunite with the Chinese nation culturally and sentimentally.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


The author is a Hong Kong-based current affairs commentator.

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