A senior Chinese official yesterday said that authorities are working on reforms related to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, including its judicial system.
Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Deputy Director Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明) told a legal summit in the territory that moves to “perfect” the legal system would not undermine judicial independence.
“We need to see the Basic Law as something that is alive so we can interpret the Basic Law whenever necessary,” said Zhang, referring to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, adding that authorities are looking to push through more “Basic Law-related work.”
Photo: EPA-EFE /Hong Kong Information Services Department
Zhang said that the work was related to “oath optimization” and “qualification screening” for civil servants, national education and judicial reform. He did not elaborate.
Under the territory’s new National Security Law, civil servants are required to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and the Basic Law.
Zhang said the moves were aimed to correct “wrongful activities” and cover loopholes.
“Right now is time to sort out what is true and what is false,” Zhang said, stating that people who do not recognize the “motherland” or threaten the country’s national security do not fall in line with the Basic Law.
Zhang’s comments come after Beijing passed a resolution last week to empower Hong Kong authorities to disqualify lawmakers deemed a threat to national security without having to go through courts.
Hong Kong then immediately expelled four legislators, prompting opposition pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse in protest on Thursday last week.
“Only those who are patriotic should be in place, otherwise they should be removed from the system,” Zhang said.
In related news, Taiwanese and Hong Kong advocates have expressed alarm over reports that China is compiling a global watch list of those who have voiced views deemed separatist, a move that would mark a major escalation in Beijing’s pursuit of its critics.
China is gathering names of prominent advocates of Taiwanese independence, a Beijing-backed newspaper in Hong Kong, the Ta Kung Pao reported earlier this week.
The list could include advocates both in Taiwan and abroad as well as those who helped fund such activities, Ta Kung Pao said, citing officials it did not name.
The newspaper is among the publishing operations controlled by China’s government through its Hong Kong Liaison Office.
Meanwhile, state broadcaster Shenzhen Satellite TV said in a commentary over the weekend that secession was criminalized by the National Security Law, a measure that also covers those advocating Taiwan’s independence.
The legislation includes a controversial provision that applies to non-residents residing overseas.
“They will no longer be able to set foot in Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese mainland and it will also be very dangerous for them to travel to other countries and regions,” the Chinese tabloid Global Times said on Monday in an editorial. “In short, this list will be a ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over their heads for a long time to come and they will never know when it will come down.”
Former Hong Kong lawmaker Nathan Law (羅冠聰), 27, who fled to London before the law’s enactment, said the reports showed that Beijing planned to raise the stakes.
“The list will definitely impose a stronger level of white terror and send a threatening signal to those in Hong Kong and in Taiwan that they dare not travel to Hong Kong, China and the other places anymore,” Law said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) yesterday referred questions about the list to the “competent authority,” without elaborating.
“What I can tell you is China is determined to safeguard its national unity and territorial integrity. No separatist attempt will succeed, its only outcome is total failure,” Zhao told reporters.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who the Global Times editorial named as one prominent example of a Taiwanese independence supporter, told reporters in Taipei yesterday that he would “guard the country and protect people without giving in to military force.”
The Mainland Affairs Office said any list would be “counterproductive” and ineffective.
“China’s attempts to intimidate Taiwanese into self-censorship and incite cross-strait confrontation with such extreme agenda, has destroyed cross-strait peace and stability,” it said in a text message to Bloomberg.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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