Ambassador Huang Xilian Answers Questions on Improving the Electoral System of the HKSAR
2021/03/11
 

I. We took note that China's National People's Congress (NPC) made a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region(HKSAR). Could you give some details about that? And what specific changes will be made in the electoral system?

The Fourth Session of the 13th China's NPC has deliberated and passed the decision on improving electoral system of the HKSAR on 11 March 2021. Previously H.E. Wang Chen, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, had presented the explanations on the Draft Decision, elaborating the imperative and importance of improving the electoral system, the overall requirements, important principles, basic approach and the way to proceed for the improvement and the overview of the draft decision.

The purpose of improving the electoral system of the HKSAR is to plug the loopholes in the current electoral system in Hong Kong, better implement the fundamental principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong", ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, and ensure the steady implementation of  "One Country, Two Systems" . Improving the electoral system of the HKSAR will be carried out completely within the framework of the "One Country, Two Systems" and on the track of the Constitution and the Basic Law, and will contribute to the gradual development of a democratic system that is suitable for the actual situation of Hong Kong, which not only reflects the balanced participation of all walks of life in Hong Kong, but also enhances the overall interests of Hong Kong society and the well-being of the general public.

The overarching approach for improving the electoral system of the HKSAR is as follows: the overall design of the system will be centered around the reformation and greater empowerment of the Election Committee of the HKSAR; the size, composition and formation method of the Election Committee will be adjusted and improved; the Chief Executive will continue to be elected by the Election Committee; the Election Committee will be entrusted with the new function of electing a relatively large share of Legislative Council members and directly participating in the nomination of all candidates for the Legislative Council; through the Election Committee, the balanced and orderly political participation will be expanded and broader representation ensured in the Hong Kong society; relevant elements of the election will be adjusted as appropriate, and a mechanism of qualification review will be established throughout the entire process. This design is aimed to form a new democratic electoral system suited to Hong Kong's realities and with Hong Kong characteristics.

The improved electoral system not only respects the democratic rights of the public, but also safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests; not only respects and guarantees the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong according to the laws, but also  guarantees the Central Government's comprehensive governance over HKSAR; not only ensures the fairness,  impartiality and openness of all kinds of elections, but also prevents anti-China radical protesters aiming at destabilizing Hong Kong and political agents of anti-China international forces from entering the  HKSAR authorities.

 

II. What's the urgent necessity for the Chinese government to improve the electoral system of HKSAR at this moment?

Over the nearly 24 years since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, China has stayed committed to the principles of "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" with a high degree of autonomy, and acted in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law. As a result, the practice of "One Country, Two Systems" has been a universally recognized success, Hong Kong's political democracy has been gradually advanced, and Hong Kong citizens enjoy unprecedented rights under the law. But in recent years, especially since the turbulence over proposed legislative amendments in 2019, anti-China troublemakers in the city have colluded with external hostile forces, openly advocated "Hong Kong independence", and sowed trouble in Hong Kong at large by exploiting elections in the HKSAR, the fora of the Legislative Council and district councils, or their status as public officers. Their aim is to paralyze the Legislative Council, obstruct the HKSAR's law-based governance, challenge the authority of the Central Government of China and seize jurisdiction over the HKSAR.

Such chaos proves that there are obvious loopholes and deficiencies in the existing electoral system of the HKSAR. In view of the situation, it is important to take necessary steps to improve the electoral system and 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 keep the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" always on the right track.

 

III. Some foreign governments and critics asserted that China's move on HKSAR's electoral system would violate "One Country, Two Systems"  and tighten grip on Hong Kong's autonomy, basic freedom and human rights. What's your response?

Fisrt of all, I would like to make it clear that under the British colonial rule, there was no democracy to speak in Hong Kong. Over the past 24 years since Hong Kong's return to motherland, no one cared more about Hong Kong's democracy and continued prosperity and stability than the Chinese government.

As China's SAR, Hong Kong must be governed by the patriots. It is a fundamental political ethic. Looking around the world, it is common practice that anyone running for government posts should demonstrate his or her patriotism by all means. The principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" is not a high standard but a minimum one for HKSAR to implement "One Country, Two Systems" .

Hong Kong is part of China and its electoral system could be classified as China's local electoral system. How it is designed, developed or improved is entirely China's internal affairs. No foreign country has the right to make irresponsible remarks or interfere. In a unitary state, it is a common political practice enshrined in the constitutions that the Central Government of China decides the local electoral systems. China is a unitary state. It is prescribed in the Constitution that the Central Government has all the rights to establish HKSAR and its system. To modify and improve the electoral system of SAR falls within the purview of the central authorities rather than an affair of autonomy.

China's position on Hong Kong-related issues has been understood and supported by most members of the international community. At the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, 70 countries made a joint statement to reiterate their support for China's practice of "One Country, Two Systems" in the HKSAR, stressing Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, urging relevant parties to earnestly respect China's sovereignty and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs. Moreover, more than 20 other countries spoke separately in support of China's stance on Hong Kong.

 

IV. Is there any influence on Filipinos' living and work in Hong Kong after China improved the electoral system of the HKSAR? How do you look at Hong Kong's future?

Since the return of Hong Kong, the Chinese government has been committed to fostering its democratic system with unswerving determination and utmost sincerity and safeguarding the maximum democratic rights of Hong Kong citizens pursuant to the Hong Kong Basic Law and the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The purpose of improving the electoral system in the HKSAR is to make sure the democratic system in Hong Kong moves forward more healthfully and smoothly. The implementation of "patriots governing Hong Kong" principle and the improvement of Hong Kong electoral system will help Hong Kong shift from chaos to stability, eliminate the worries of international community on the social chaos of Hong Kong and fully serve the interests of all parties.

There are hundreds of thousands of Filipinos working or living in Hong Kong, who are also the beneficiaries of "One Country, Two Systems" as well as Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. I believe that the improving of the electoral system of the HKSAR will not only provide a more peaceful and stable social environment for the Filipinos in Hong Kong, but also create a more stable political environment and a more predictable business environment for the enterprises from all the countries including the Philippines. Hong Kong's tomorrow will be better.

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