The national flag of China and the flag of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) flutter in the wind at the Golden Bauhinia Square of the region. (People’s Daily Online/You Bing)

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The recently-concluded fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, passed a decision on improving the electoral system of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

As another major step taken by China’s central government to improve the governance efficacy of the HKSAR since the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR was adopted in June 2020, the decision represents a milestone in China’s practice of “one country, two systems”.

By improving the electoral system of the HKSAR, China aims to ensure that those who are patriotic and love Hong Kong administer and govern the region, so as to provide a solid institutional guarantee for the sound and sustained implementation of the “one country, two systems” policy in the HKSAR, said Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council of China, at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office on March 12.

It is necessary to take measures to modify and improve the electoral system in Hong Kong, as anti-China forces have exploited the loopholes and deficiencies in Hong Kong’s current electoral system to endanger China’s national sovereignty, security, and development interests and undermine Hong Kong’s constitutional order and effective governance, said Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, at the press conference.

The NPC has both the power and the responsibility to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system, said Zhang Yong, who noted that the decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR has a firm constitutional basis.

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the HKSAR Basic Law together constitute the constitutional basis of the HKSAR under “one country, two systems”, and relevant systems and mechanisms shall be amended and improved if they are not in conformity with the constitutional basis or breach or even damage the constitutional basis, he explained.

The decision of the NPC has sufficient legal ground as the Constitution authorizes the NPC to determine the establishment of a special administrative region and its systems, Zhang pointed out.

The electoral system of the HKSAR is the essence of the region’s political system, and the central authorities have the power of decision on systems involving HKSAR, he said, stressing that the NPC decision also has unchallengeable legal force.

Photo shows the Central Government Complex, the headquarters of the government of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (People’s Daily Online/Duan Changzheng)

Be it the implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, the improvement of the electoral system of the HKSAR, or future efforts, all these steps are intended to improve the institutional framework of “one country, two systems” and allow for its effective execution and implementation, said Zhang Xiaoming.

“There is absolutely no such thing as changing the ‘one country, two systems’ policy,” he said.

By stressing the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, the central authorities of China are not trying to enforce uniformity in Hong Kong’s social and political life, the official said, noting that different voices will still be heard at the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, including criticism of the government.

Anti-China and destabilizing elements cannot be simply equated with the opposition camp, especially the pan-democratic candidates, Zhang pointed out, adding that there are also patriots among the pan-democrats and they can still participate in elections and be elected in accordance with laws.

A survey conducted by the Hong Kong Research Association shows that around 70 percent of the respondents support the NPC decision, which is the most proper and forceful response to the unfounded slander abroad, according to Zhang.

Photo shows the magnificent night view of the Victoria Harbor of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. (People’s Daily Online/Zheng Jinqiang)

After the enactment of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, both local and foreign investors have greater, not less, confidence in Hong Kong, said Zhang, who noted that last year, the amount of funds flowed into Hong Kong reached $50 billion.

The stock market is a barometer of Hong Kong’s economy and an important indicator of investor confidence in the region. In January, the value of the Hong Kong stock market exceeded the historical record of 50 trillion Hong Kong dollars ($6.44 trillion)

The proportion of companies optimistic about the business environment in Hong Kong rose sharply in January, compared with that in last August, said a report released by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

It is believed that the political, economic, social and business environment of Hong Kong will be further improved, and the status of Hong Kong as a financial center will be further consolidated with the implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR and the improvement in Hong Kong’s electoral system. 

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