The 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, will deliberate over a draft decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during its ongoing fourth annual session, which runs from March 5 to 11.
Photo taken on July 1, 2020 shows the iconic Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
The NPC has the power and the responsibility to make the decision at the constitutional level to improve HKSAR’s electoral system, removing the system’s loopholes and risks. The NPC’s deliberation of the draft decision is a major move for adhering to and improving the "one country, two systems" principle, safeguarding the constitutional order stipulated in the Constitution and the HKSAR Basic Law and implementing the fundamental principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong."
Last year, the COVID-19 epidemic plunged Hong Kong into an economic recession. But from 1997 to 2019, Hong Kong’s GDP actually doubled, and in terms of per capita GDP, the HKSAR is one of the most prosperous regions in the world. The policy of “one country, two systems” has proved to be the best solution to the questions facing Hong Kong left by history, and the best institutional guarantee for the HKSAR’s long-term prosperity and stability.
As an unprecedented practice, "one country, two systems" will inevitably encounter some problems and challenges. Some anti-China forces and radical localists in Hong Kong have entered HKSAR’s governance structure by taking advantage of the loopholes in the HKSAR's existing electoral system, attempting to spread the idea of “Hong Kong independence”, resisting the governance of central authorities, and hindering the administration of the HKSAR government. They have even colluded with external hostile forces in an attempt to grab power and administer Hong Kong through election manipulation.
These activities severely challenged the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle and seriously jeopardized the constitutional order and the rule of law in the HKSAR. Such activities put China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests into serious jeopardy, severely disrupted the social stability of the HKSAR and harmed the wellbeing of Hong Kong residents.
The NPC’s decision to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system based on the region’s reality aims to remove existing institutional deficiencies and risks to ensure the administration of Hong Kong by Hong Kong people with patriots as the main body. This in turn will ensure effective and law-based administration in the HKSAR and that the implementation of "one country, two systems” is always on the right track.
Matters concerning the political system of the HKSAR are within the purview of the central authorities, which hold the primary responsibility for fully and faithfully implementing the policy of "one country, two systems” and the Basic Law, and maintaining the constitutional order as set out by the Constitution and the Basic Law.
The NPC and its Standing Committee making the decision at the constitutional level to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system is integral to improving the HKSAR’s institutions and mechanisms related to the implementation of the Constitution and the Basic Law. The decision is authoritative and in line with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Basic Law.
Since February this year, the relevant departments of the central authorities have held symposiums in Beijing and Shenzhen to communicate with the HKSAR government several times and hear opinions on implementing the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" and improving Hong Kong’s electoral system.
After serious consideration of various factors and discussions with the relevant parties, central and state authorities proposed a two-step approach, namely, “decision plus amendment”. The NPC’s decision takes into full consideration the practical need and actual situation in Hong Kong, holds solid political and legal ground, and has won strong public support.
The purpose of improving Hong Kong’s electoral system is to ensure the healthier and smoother development of the region's democratic system in line with the principle of "one country, two systems", the Constitution and the Basic Law.
The central government has always supported the development of democracy in Hong Kong in a gradual and systematic way and guaranteed the exercise of democratic rights by residents in the region. This kind of democracy should tally with the region’s actual conditions, give expression to the principle of equal participation by all sectors of Hong Kong society, and safeguard the overall interests of Hong Kong society and the wellbeing of Hong Kong residents.
By leading the improvement of Hong Kong’s electoral system and implementing the fundamental principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong", the central government aims to stay true to the original intention of the policy of "one country, two systems", help Hong Kong end its unrest and division and focus its efforts on developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood. The central government cares deeply about the HKSAR and Hong Kong compatriots.
It’s hoped that Hong Kong citizens will understand the far-reaching significance of the central government’s decision, and fully support the HKSAR government in implementing these improvement measures and laying a solid institutional foundation for the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong." In this way, Hong Kong will seize the important opportunities given by the country's 14th Five-Year Plan, integrate more proactively into the country's overall development, better leverage the institutional advantage of the policy of "one country, two systems", and create a better future.