Politicians drub student independence idea

Top News | Kenneth Lau 17 Mar 2016

Mainland and local politicians have rounded on the University of Hong Kong student publication for calling for independence, saying it is impossible and against the SAR's interests.

National People's Congress law committee chairman Qiao Xiaoyang rejected the idea of independence, saying: "No, they cannot, and how can it be possible?"

That came after Qiao, also the former chairman of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee in the 11th National People's Congress, was asked by reporters in Beijing before the NPC meeting.

The monthly Undergrad magazine published two articles on Sunday suggesting Hong Kong start looking into its future after 2047, with one of the options being an independent country that has a place in the United Nations.

The Undergrad also suggested the people of Hong Kong should build up a democratic government and establish its own constitution.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying hit back at the Undergrad on Tuesday, saying it was commonsense that since Hong Kong has been a part of China since ancient times, it will continue to be so after 2047.

His political appointees and pro-establishment lawmakers followed suit yesterday.

In a mediation forum in Shanghai, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung praised students for being concerned about the future.

But he said: "We better think about how to improve our `one country, two systems.' It will be a more effective and practical way of fighting for democracy." He saw no reason why "one country, two systems" could not continue after 2047.

Executive Council member Bernard Charnwut Chan said the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is always a part of China, and the public should not spend time speculating about independence.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said independence would be suicide.

"Hong Kong people must understand that China has a strong emphasis on maintaining its territorial integrity," she said.

Undergrad former editor-in-chief Marcus Lau Yee-ching, who is responsible for the publication, defended the articles in an RTHK interview.

"We acknowledge that Hong Kong has no ability and criteria to be independent now, but no one knows about the situation in 2047," he said. "We need to table it to the public for discussion."

Responding to HKU council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung's comment that Hong Kong won't have water to drink if it seeks independence, Lau said the city pays for its water.

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