HK policies from CCP 4th Plenum meeting breaches Joint Declaration!
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
This article analyses the impacts of the 4th Plenum meeting of CCP relating to policies in HK - Safeguarding National Security is the First and Foremost Priority in HK.
November 03, 2019
The Fourth Plenum meeting of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (“the Party”) closed yesterday. The authorities issued a communique of the plenary meeting. Apart from proposing that the Party "leads" One country, Two systems, China holds a hard-lining attitude towards Hong Kong. It suggests that Beijing has completely changed its basic policy stance in Hong Kong, as if it has rewritten the Basic Law and broken the Sino-British Joint Declaration [of 1984].
In the nearly 6,000 words conference bulletin published by Xinhua News Agency, the sections relating to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan accounted for more than 200 words. It was rare for the Party to mention One Country Two systems in the previous plenary meetings. Indeed it is the first time China mentions the Party “leads” the "One Country, Two Systems" since the 19th National Congress of the Party. The communique asserts that "One country Two systems" is an important policy for the Party to achieve peaceful reunification as part the great initiatives of “Chinese characteristic” socialism. It also mentions establishment of a “sound legal and enforcement system in the HK” Special Administrative Region to implement and safeguard “national security”.
In regarding to the first mentioning in the communique for establishment of a national security legal system and enforcement mechanism in the SAR, the political analysis community believes that the Party specifically target the opposition to China extradition related civil resistance movement in Hong Kong. Senior China politics commentator Wo-Lap Lam considers that the plenary bulletin literally rejects the five major demands listed out by the Hong Kong protesters by imposing more hard core laws to Hong Kong. It reflects that Xi Jinping seeks to rebuild governance legitimacy in HK through tough approach. Lam anticipates that the toning of the plenary communique may has reflected that re-introduction of Basic Law Article 23 is on the agenda. It is expected that the relevant legislation will be completed within one year. If Carrie Lam steps down in March next year, the top priority of her successor will be to promote enactment of legislation relating to Article 23.
According to the analysis of Johnny Lau, current affairs commentator, the Central Government does not just intend to enact of Article 23 related legislations, they may re-examine all relevant legislations that are relating to national security in high hand stance, including Hong Kong's existing legislations covering elections, media, criminalization of humiliation and insults against police officers, internet regulations, etc. Even court judges will deal with these cases stringently. "The policy in Hong Kong will only be further tightened up."
As for the legal system and enforcement mechanism, Bruce Lui , a senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism at the Baptist University of Hong Kong, who is familiar with China's national affairs, explained that first it involves operational aspects of all existing laws and regulations. It is not possible to rule out that HK government may implement a provisional Article 23. Secondly, there is yet to have an implementation organisation in Hong Kong. The establishment of the National Security Committee in Macau in last year was a likely reference in Hong Kong. "The Minister of Public Security, Zhao Ke-zhi, joined as the deputy leader of the Hong Kong and Macao Group. It is the first time to China appoints a military officer in the group. In their plan, HK should have a counterpart mechanism to facilitate Beijing to give direct orders."
Senior barrister Martin Lee criticized that the plenary bulletin described "improving” the One Country Two systems in words but at the same time also stressed that it a "Party lead" “Two systems” that should be strictly governed in accordance to the Constitution of China. This is a total breach of the policy stance Beijing laid down for Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as if the Basic Law is being overhauled. Lee is not willing to speculate whether this will further accelerate the passing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, but he warned that the United States passed the "Hong Kong Policy Act" after the signing of the Joint Declaration. If Beijing fundamentally changes their policy stance in Hong Kong, this will shake up the foundation of the HK Policy Act. The impacts will be great. The Central Government should not interfere much in Hong Kong’s affairs. Now they explicitly state that the Party directs everything in HK. If Hong Kong becomes Tibet and Xinjiang, how will the international community responds?
Footnote: See our other blogs on Article 23 legislation in HK, The Joint Declaration and "One Country, Two Systems"