A Beijing official responsible for Hong Kong affairs said on Tuesday that last week's disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers in the SAR set a “good precedent” as people who resist the central government should be “removed from the system”.
Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), was speaking during an online summit marking the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law.
Opposition lawmakers Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung were stripped of their seats in the Legislative Council after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) passed a resolution saying that legislators who promote or support Hong Kong independence, refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, ask external forces to interfere in the SAR's affairs or commit other acts that threaten national security should be disqualified.
Zhang hailed the move, saying people who don't support the central government should not be allowed to govern Hong Kong as it is not in line with the Basic Law and the One Country, Two Systems principle.
“Hong Kong is a part of the People’s Republic of China. We should only allow patriots to rule Hong Kong. People who serve the Hong Kong government should embrace the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the PRC and they should not engage in any matter or activity that may damage such principles,” he said.
“Four dissidents have been removed. This is to protect our legal foundation and this is a good precedent to show that only those who are patriotic and truly love the city and our motherland should be in place. Otherwise, they should be removed from the system,” he said.
He added that the Basic Law is “alive” and can be interpreted when necessary, as new issues come up amid a complex social situation.
He dismissed claims that the NPCSC’s decision has damaged Hong Kong’s judicial independence, saying such suggestions are simply misleading and highlight people's lack of understanding of One Country, Two Systems.
Zhang said Hong Kong has started “a new era” following the disqualifications, adding that while incorrect ideas should be sorted out, patriotism must be further nurtured.
“Hong Kong has many advantages, but we also need to remember the mainland is the backbone for such development. Everything that’s happening in Hong Kong is connected to the mainland. We need to talk about love for Hong Kong and at the same time love for the motherland. So before we talk about the core values of Hong Kong, we have to talk about patriotism.”
Zhang was removed from his position as director of the HKMAO in February, and was demoted to deputy director as part of a major shake-up.
His original role as chief was given to Xia Baolong, a vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and a former party secretary of Zhejiang province.
Zhang's demotion followed the sacking of former liaison office chief Wang Zhimin after the SAR's many months of social unrest.