The constitution is the all-embracing law across all China, including Hong Kong, while the Basic Law is only a subsidiary law.
In other words, Hong Kong has no constitutional order and rule of law outside of the country's constitution.
Shen Chunyao, chairman of the National People's Congress Legislative Affairs Commission, stressed this point during a forum in Hong Kong yesterday.
He spoke at the forum on "The National Constitution and the Reform and Opening-up" upon the SAR government's invitation.
The Endeavour Education Centre, chaired by former NPC Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, organized the gathering.
In his 30-minute speech, Shen said all Chinese nationals, including Hong Kong citizens, were responsible for defending the constitution and ensuring its enactment.
He said the Basic Law derived its authority from the constitution. So the two cannot be treated separately.
"The constitution is the superior law and mother law, while the Basic Law is the inferior law and sub-law - meaning the Hong Kong SAR has no constitutional order and rule of law outside of the country's constitution," Shen said.
Shen said there were certain bottom lines that people should not cross. "Any moves that threaten national security, challenge Beijing's authority and the Basic Law, and utilize Hong Kong for subversion against the mainland are touching the bottom line."
Shen also said all Chinese nationals, including Hong Kong citizens, are responsible for defending the constitution and ensuring its enactment.
"The authority of the constitution covers the country's entire territory, and Hong Kong has been an SAR directly under the Central People's Government and it has been enjoying a high degree of autonomy after the handover," he said.
Shen said that since the constitution is the source of power of the Basic Law, the two should not be treated separately.
Shen responded to a question Ronny Tong Ka-wah, an Executive Councillor, on the consequences to a Hongkonger who violates the constitution's article on citizens' duty to safeguard national security.
Sidestepping the question, Shen instead called on Hongkongers to think more about national security.
"Hong Kong compatriots need to consider the fact that China still faces the Taiwan problem and the serious threats of terrorism and separatism in western China and in the southwest and southeast from Xinjiang and Tibet [autonomous regions]. They should then know how important it is to safeguard national security," Shen said.
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference vice chairman Tung Chee-hwa, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Liaison Office director Wang Zhimin and several principal SAR officials, attended the forum.