Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong declared on Friday that it is not subject to Basic Law restrictions that bar central government departments from interfering in local affairs – saying it has the responsibility and the right to comment as it wishes on Hong Kong matters.
In a press release using a question-and-answer format, the office addressed the controversy surrounding its earlier trenchant criticism of the pan-democrats in Hong Kong, whom they had accused of paralysing the Legislative Council by preventing its House Committee from electing a chairman for more than six months.
Pan-democrats had said this earlier statement – along with a similar one issued by the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office – had violated Article 22 of the Basic Law, which states that “no department of the Central People's Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this Law.”
But the office said on Friday that the ‘minority’ of people who made such allegations were “not only deliberately distorting the Basic Law, they are also intentionally misleading public opinion.”
“The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the Hong Kong Liaison Office are bodies authorised by the central authorities to handle Hong Kong affairs”, it said.
“They are not what is referred to in Article 22 of the Basic Law, or what is commonly understood to be ‘departments under the Central People’s Government'”.
The statement goes on to say that these two bodies “most definitely” have the authority to represent the central government, and exercise its power to supervise happenings in Hong Kong and make statements on issues ranging from the SAR’s relationship with Beijing; the ‘correct’ implementation of the Basic Law; the ‘normal functioning’ of the political system; to other important matters pertaining to the overall interests of society.
The two offices derive their authority, it says, both from China’s constitution, and the Basic Law.
“How else can these two bodies push forward the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong?” the office asked.
The Liaison Office again singled out Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok for criticism, accusing him of violating Legco rules and abusing his power in presiding over meetings of the House Committee.
It reiterated its accusation that his behaviour has violated both the Basic Law and his allegiance to the SAR, and that the lawmaker is possibly guilty of misconduct in public office.
It also backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s comments on Tuesday that legislators who have gone overseas to seek sanctions on Hong Kong constitute ‘naked attempts’ to interfere in the SAR's affairs.
The office also said politicians who went overseas to ask the US to scrap Hong Kong's special trade status or impose sanctions on officials have ‘breached the bottom line of 'one country, two systems', and added that they have ‘blatantly betrayed’ the interests of both Hong Kong and the nation.
It said it's basic political logic that any politician must be loyal to their own country, despite any differences in opinion.
It said when legislators took their oaths of office, they pledged allegiance to the People's Republic of China and the SAR government. Therefore, it said, their loyalty to the country is a definite requirement.
However, Kwok quickly fired back, throwing the Liaison Office’s own words back at it, saying its latest statement "is a deliberate distortion of the meaning and the policy intent behind Article 22”.
“Article 22 is designed precisely to avoid this kind of situation that we are seeing that China’s Liaison Office and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office see fit to comment, interfere, and threaten Hong Kong people and this legislature… [saying] that there will be consequences if you do this and that.”
“And if that’s not interference,” Kwok said, “I don’t know what is.”
Liaison Office 'not subject to Article 22'
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