By CGTN's Lu Yanrong
This year’s “Two Sessions” came to an end, but the strong words delivered on “Hong Kong independence” may have a lasting effect. With the Hong Kong Chief Executive election this year, the new policies and measures on the special administrative region, in terms of politics and economy, might mark a new era for the Mainland-Hong Kong relationship.
Speaking at the opening of the annual National People's Congress (NPC), Premier Li Keqiang said calls from within the city to go it alone would "lead nowhere."
This was the first time "Hong Kong independence" has ever been mentioned in any Chinese premier's annual address.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said Edward Lehman, managing director of Lehman, Lee & Xue, quoting Abraham Lincoln's famous words. He added, “The words that are coming out of the NPC and CPPCC with regards to 'One Country, Two Systems' will remain firm and fair going forward.”
According to Victor Gao Zhi Kai, a current affairs commentator, the political situation in Hong Kong is changing and becoming more and more dangerous, and there are real efforts by certain groups of people to pursue a so-called “Hong Kong independence”.
“I think China needs to be prepared for further deterioration in the political system in Hong Kong. That’s why I think Premier Li Keqiang is absolutely right in his report on the government's work, to emphasize that China will stand firm against any attempts to pursue Hong Kong independence. Hong Kong independence in itself is a fallacy and will never be successful,” he said.
Beijing has consistently expressed concerns about any promotion of independence for its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. It was emphasized in the Two Sessions that candidates standing for election to the NPC from the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions (SARs) must be loyal to China. This statement caused much debate.
On this point, Andrew KP Leung, an international and independent China specialist based in Hong Kong, explained that the Pan-democrats had been asking to amend Hong Kong’s Basic Law to the extent that the safeguards for the “One Country” were being sacrificed to the “Two Systems”.
The Basic Law is unique in the world. There are many safeguards to the “Two systems,” but there are few safeguards for the “One Country”. Leung added that the Pan-Democrats were asking for an abrogation of the Basic Law, and that was absolutely a red line as far as Beijing was concerned, stating, “I think the question of trust is whether someone could uphold the safeguards for ‘One Country’ as well as try to realize the advantages of the ‘Two Systems'."