HK 'should follow' Macau model

Top News | Cindy Wan 4 Dec 2019

Hong Kong should follow in Macau's footsteps in understanding its relationship with Beijing, says top Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu.

Li, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, spoke at a symposium marking the 20th anniversary of Macau's Basic Law in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday.

"The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should understand the spirit of the central government, understand the constitution, and understand the relationship between the central government's full governing rights [on Hong Kong] and [its] high level of autonomy," he said.

After praising Macau's national education for the youth, Li said: "For some aspects of work, the central government expects the same for Hong Kong and Macau."

Li complimented Macau for having a strong sense of national identity and stressed that "two systems" should only come after "one country."

He added: "The successful implementation of Macau's Basic Law has proved that only when a sense of national identity is widely adopted in society would there be a comprehensive and accurate implementation of the Basic Law.

"One important reason is that Macau placed great importance in the core value of loving the country, with a strong sense of nationality and constitutional concepts. The sense of national identity is widely and deeply rooted in the foundation of society."

Key positions in the government, legislative body and judiciary are held by "patriots who uphold the principle of 'Macau people ruling Macau,' " he said.

Li also praised the enclave for "taking an active role" in amending the rules for their Legislative Assembly elections to ensure lawmakers' loyalty.

Defending national sovereignty and security is necessary and the key to maintaining Macau's long-term prosperity and stability, he said.

He summarized four expectations for Macau: govern according to the country's constitution and Basic Law, exercise governing rights entitled by the central government, continue to establish existing mechanisms for safeguarding national security, and promote the Basic Law.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, a convener of the Independent Commentator Association, said Li was actually criticizing Hong Kong by praising Macau. "Macau succeeded in implementing measures for national security and strengthening the sense of national identity, but Hong Kong is all empty in these aspects," he said.

Lui said Li emphasized the importance of having patriots dominate key positions, implying that Beijing thinks Hong Kong civil servants are not loyal enough.

"Beijing regarded [the protests of civil servants] a small-scaled coup d'etat. They are likely to be punished after order is restored," he said.

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