The Chinese government should respect the right of Hong Kongers to enjoy basic liberties and pursue freedoms, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
The DPP’s remarks came hours after China warned Hong Kong that there were limits to the territory’s freedom and said that it should adhere strictly to the law ahead of a planned pro-democracy protest that could end up shutting down part of the territory’s Central District.
“The peoples of Taiwan and Hong Kong have always conducted close exchanges and enjoyed a warm relationship. However, we have noticed that since the [Hong Kong] handover in 1997, its wealth gap has been widening steadily, as its democracy backslides,” DPP spokesman Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said.
“It seems to us that China has only emphasized the ‘one country’ part of its system and failed to protect Hong Kongers’ basic human rights,” he said.
As of press time, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had no comment on the matter.
A push by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists over the past year to hold protests as part of a campaign for the right to choose candidates for the 2017 poll to elect the territory’s next leader has stoked friction and unnerved Chinese leaders fearful of an opposition democrat winning the election.
The Chinese State Council — China’s Cabinet — has reiterated in a “white paper” on its “one country, two systems” formula that the territory has limits to its freedom.
“The high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership,” the council said in the report. “There is no such thing called ‘residual power.’”
“The practice of ‘one country, two systems’ has come to face new circumstances and new problems,” the council added. “Some are even confused or lopsided in their understanding of ‘one-country, two-systems’ and the Basic Law.”
Some observers in Hong Kong said the report is a warning to the pro-democracy camp, which has been advocating full democracy in 2017.
However, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) shrugged off suggestions that the report was a political warning.
He said since the paper was prepared over the course of a year and translated into seven languages it represented Beijing’s considered position on Hong Kong’s political landscape, while reiterating China’s sovereignty.
Senior Chinese officials have already all but ruled out public nominations for Hong Kong’s 2017 poll, saying that that goes against the law and that a small committee of about 1,200 largely pro-Beijing loyalists should choose the candidates.