Quite wrong to dismiss apprehensions over HK White Paper

30-Jul-2014 Intellasia | FT | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Sir, Tim Summers, in his letter “Beijing is just reiterating China’s stance on Hong Kong” (July 19), contends that concerns reflected in the Financial Times, in relation to the Chinese government’s recently published White Paper on the practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, are based on a misinterpretation of the original Chinese version of the White Paper. As two educated Chinese, we are quite capable of understanding the White Paper in both the English and Chinese languages, as are the majority of the 1,600 members of the local legal profession who marched in silent protest at the terms of the White Paper on June 27 2014.

Dr Summers has placed great importance on the Chinese characters, zhi gang, which stand for administer or “administrate” as in the White Paper. These characters also appear in Deng Xiaoping’s promise of “Hong Kong people ruling (or administering) Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy” which is the over-arching policy embodied under “one country, two systems”. By the promise of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” we were assured that Beijing would not send their own people to administer Hong Kong.

The White Paper states that “Hong Kong administrators” include “judges of the courts at different levels and other judicial personnel”, who have the responsibility of “safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests”. This is in flagrant violation of the principle of separation of powers guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s constitution.

It also states that “Hong Kong’s administrators”, including judges, must be loyal to the country and subject to oversight by the central government which has “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The White Paper thus clearly breaches the Joint Declaration which gives “a high degree of autonomy” to the HKSAR, “except in foreign and defence affairs”.

Dr Summers’ letter is fundamentally flawed because his basic premise is that the White Paper does not describe judges as administrators. As set out above, the White Paper clearly describes judges and others as “Hong Kong’s administrators”.

In short, he is quite wrong to dismiss the well-founded apprehension felt by Hong Kong people at both the tone and the wording of the White Paper. We note that he has advanced his views in his capacity as a Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, Hong Kong. We had the pleasure of addressing Chatham House on July 17; we were informed that Chatham House does not take an institutional position on the views expressed by individual commentators and that Dr Summers’ views reflect his own, personal assessment.



Category: Hong Kong

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