Respect for party main driver of patriotism, says top academic

Top News | Michael Shum 4 Mar 2021

Being a patriot entails respect, not love, for the Communist Party and creates opportunities for both pro-establishment and pan-democrats, a leading mainland intellectual says.

Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University's Law School in Beijing and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the national security law enforced since July and the electoral reform for Hong Kong to be unveiled by Beijing this month will pose challenges for both sides of the political spectrum.

For the pro-establishment politicians, "the central government is looking forward to creating patriotic talents, not rubber stamps or loyal rubbish," Tian wrote in an article in a local Chinese newspaper.

And the pro-democracy politicians "will have to adapt in order to continue their political lives and interests."

Tian said being a patriot includes respecting the party's leadership in the country, but that does not mean one should be forced to love the ruling party passionately.

"Loving the party is the obligation of party members. Hongkongers, as Chinese citizens, should bear the obligation of being patriotic, as well as respecting the Communist Party instead of passionately loving it," Tian said.

He added that Hong Kong society has become used to following the West in dismantling the integrity of the Chinese political system, while setting the ruling party, the country, the government and its people apart and against each other.

"This in turn disintegrated the legitimacy of the ruling party's leadership as well as its comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong, while also exposing one country, two systems to immense risk of being ripped apart," Tian said.

The electoral change will pose challenges to both the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps, as it would set a high requirement for the pro-establishment to serve both Hong Kong and the country.

For the pro-democracy camp, the change is filled with opportunities and challenges, Tian said.

His remarks came after the director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, called for electoral reform in the SAR to ensure patriots fill important positions. It has fueled speculation that Beijing will overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system during the "two sessions" starting today.

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