On 8 March 2021, Mr. Yang Yirui, Acting Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR, hosted a briefing on the improvement of the electoral system of the HKSAR for the consular corps in Hong Kong. Heads or representatives from consulates-general of 59 countries and the European Union Office to Hong Kong attended the event.

Yang pointed out that the loopholes in the electoral system of Hong Kong must be closed with the utmost urgency so as to fundamentally resolve the problems in Hong Kong. If the chaos in the elections were left unchecked and anti-China troublemakers allowed to worm their way into the governance structure and unscrupulously endanger national security and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, Hong Kong would be plunged into violent turbulence, its status as an international financial, shipping and trading center under threat, and the interests of the international community here in peril. The deliberation of the draft decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR at the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) is to carry out the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle and the original mission of “One Country, Two Systtems” in the electoral system of Hong Kong, and is legitimate, reasonable and necessary.

Yang said that the implementation of the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle and the improvement of the electoral system of the HKSAR will help to stop destabilizing forces from obstructing Hong Kong’s development at the legislature, improve the relationship between the executive and legislative branches, and enhance the capacity and efficacy of governance. It will help to bridge differences and build consensus, channel resources into the top priority of boosting economy and improving people’s livelihood, and strengthen Hong Kong’s role as an international financial, trading and shipping center. It will help to develop a democratic electoral system suited to Hong Kong’s reality and reflecting the overall interests of the community, and ensure broad and balanced political participation of Hong Kong compatriots in accordance with the law. It will also help to dispel concerns among the international community about social unrest in Hong Kong, and provide international businesses with a more enabling environment featuring greater social tranquility, political stability and business predictability.

Yang emphasized that it is a common constitutional arrangement and political practice in unitary states that the central government determines local electoral systems. It is also a universal political principle that those who govern shall meet rigorous standards of patriotism in order to be eligible. The decision to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR made by the NPC, the highest organ of state power, is in line with the Constitution, the Basic Law and international norms and has solid political and legal foundation.

Yang pointed out that the allegations that villify the Central Government’s efforts to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR and predict doom and gloom for Hong Kong are nothing but alarmist rumors, which run counter to the intention of the Central Government’s decision and Hong Kong people’s will. The Central Government of China stays firmly committed to implementing the policies of “One Country, Two Systems” and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” with a high degree of autonomy. The Chinese side hopes the consular corps in Hong Kong and the international community at large will abide by the principle of non-interference, a basic norm of international relations, fully and accurately understand “One Country, Two Systems”, view the Central Government’s improvement of the electoral system of the HKSAR in an objective and rational manner, and together work for a prosperous and stable Hong Kong.

In response to a question about China’s take on the remarks by a very few countries expressing “concerns” about the electoral reform and threatening with further actions, Yang pointed out that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and are crucial to China’s core interests. China’s policies and measures on Hong Kong issues have gained understanding and support among the majority of the international community. Facts speak louder than words, and justice will always prevail. For instance, 70 countries made a joint statement and more than 20 other countries spoke separately at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in support of China’s stance on Hong Kong. While a very few countries, driven by political motives and ideological bias, have made irresponsible remarks and even threats to meddle with the Central Government’s decision to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system, their attempts are doomed to be futile. Such interference will not reverse the historical trend of the restoration of stability in Hong Kong and enduring success of “One Country, Two Systems”, nor will it undermine China’s determination to fully and faithfully implement “One Country, Two Systems”. On the contrary, it will only further unite the Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots, in an effort to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. 

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