|LCQ4: Review of Basic Law
Following is a question by the Hon Alvin Yeung and a reply by the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Ronald Chan, in the Legislative Council today (July 13):
The major tasks of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPCSC) for this year include: “conducting tracking studies on the Basic Law of Hong Kong..., improving the systems and mechanisms relating to the implementation of the Basic Law, strengthening ‘one country, two systems’ and the theoretical research and publicity of the Basic Law...”. The Deputy Director of the Basic Law Committee (BLC) has said earlier that as next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Hong Kong, it is high time to review the implementation of the Basic Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). On the other hand, some Hong Kong residents call for a review of the Basic Law in order to truly realise the principles of “one country, two systems” and high degree of autonomy. These residents are dissatisfied that certain articles of the Basic Law have impeded the true implementation of a high degree of autonomy. They have also expressed concern that the Basic Law lacks a clear description of the political, social and economic systems, etc. of Hong Kong after 2047. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will take the initiative to approach the relevant parties to gain an understanding from them, and inform this Council of the details, of the review to be conducted by NPCSC and BLC regarding the implementation of the Basic Law, including the timetable, scope of review, consultation approach, etc.;
(2) given that under Article 159 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive has a role in the amendment of the Basic Law, whether the SAR Government has plans to take the initiative to review the Basic Law and establish channels for Hong Kong residents to participate in the process and forward their views to the Central Authorities and BLC for reference in the review of the Basic Law; and
(3) whether it will consider the proposal of the Civic Party to hold a Hong Kong affairs conference under the chair of the SAR Government after the Legislative Council election in September this year to review the Basic Law and deal with the current major crises in the governance of SAR, and to invite representatives from the Central Authorities to sit in on such conference, as well as representatives from various sectors of the community and people with different political views in SAR to participate in it; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Our consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Yeung is as follows:
The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (Basic Law) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). In accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the National People’s Congress enacts the Basic Law, prescribing the systems to be practised in the HKSAR, in order to ensure the implementation of the basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong, i.e., “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy.
In accordance with the Basic Law, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) established the Committee for the Basic Law of the HKSAR, which is responsible for studying questions arising from the implementation of Articles 17, 18, 158 and 159 of the Basic Law and submitting its views thereon to the NPCSC. Hence, improving the systems and mechanisms relating to the implementation of the Basic Law, strengthening theoretical research and publicity of “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law are part of the on-going tasks of the NPCSC.
As regards the long-term effective implementation of “one country, two systems” in accordance with the Basic Law, Mr Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the NPCSC, had made it very clear in his speech delivered at the welcome banquet attended by various sectors of Hong Kong on May 18 this year. In this regard, I would like to quote from Chairman Zhang’s speech as follows: “First of all, we must firmly keep faith in ‘one country, two systems’. There are three fundamental reasons for doing so. Firstly, ‘one country, two systems’ is a basic policy of the Country. It is a strategic choice, not a contingency measure, and therefore will not change. Secondly, 'one country, two systems’ was formulated based on solid public opinion. It is the largest common denominator of the Motherland and Hong Kong, and therefore should not change. Thirdly, since Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland, the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ has been proven to be practicable and workable. It is a good system that has passed real tests, and therefore need not be changed. In the past years, by adhering to the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, we have realised Hong Kong’s smooth return to the Motherland, maintained the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and promoted joint development of the Mainland and Hong Kong. In the years to come, it is still necessary for us to firmly maintain ‘one country, two systems’ and continue to give full play to the unique role of Hong Kong. The opinion that the Central Government will ‘mainlandise’ Hong Kong, or even turn ‘one country, two systems’ into ‘one country, one system’, is completely groundless. People in Hong Kong would like to see the continuation of ‘one country, two systems’. Implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ will best serve the interests of both the Country and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong community can completely rest assured that the Central Authorities remain firmly committed to upholding this principle.”
As seen from the above remarks, Chairman Zhang clearly stated that the implementation of “one country, two systems” would not, should not and need not be changed. In fact, the Central Government, the HKSAR Government, the international community as well as local and overseas academic institutions all generally agreed that the Basic Law has been functioning well, and has been successfully implemented since it was put into practice. The HKSAR Government considers it unnecessary to amend the Basic Law.
I would like to emphasise that the HKSAR Government has always heeded the voices of the community regarding the implementation of the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”, as well as the effective governance of the HKSAR Government and matters of various policy areas. Moreover, the HKSAR Government has always adopted an open mind and collected the opinions of various sectors of the community on the implementation of the Basic Law through different channels including advisory bodies, committees and various kinds of consultation sessions. Pursuant to Article 64 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive also regularly presents policy addresses to the Legislative Council and attends question-and-answer sessions to exchange views with Members on the work of the Government.
Meanwhile, the Central Government is also fully aware of the implementation of the Basic Law and “one country, two systems” in the HKSAR. For example, the Chief Executive will dutifully report to state leaders the latest situation of the HKSAR and the work of the HKSAR Government during his annual duty visits to Beijing. Moreover, I believe that the Central Authorities are pleased to communicate with different sectors of the Hong Kong community and listen to views on the implementation of the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”.
In future, if Members serving the new term of the Legislative Council are interested in communicating with officials from the Central Authorities, the Chief Executive and the HKSAR Government will be pleased to assist in such arrangements. The arrangement for Chairman Zhang to meet with members of different political parties during his visit to Hong Kong is a case in point. I believe that with the concerted efforts of the people in Hong Kong, the effective implementation of the Basic Law and “one country, two systems” will definitely continue.
Ends/Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:40