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Sunday, August 01, 2021, 21:42
Patriotism only the first criterion for HK leaders
By Tu Haiming
Sunday, August 01, 2021, 21:42 By Tu Haiming

Hong Kong is scheduled to hold three important elections in the next eight months or so — the Election Committee election, the Legislative Council election and the chief executive election. It is now time to lay down the all-important criteria for future decision-makers that voters need to know in deciding which candidates are the best choice for the intended public office.

Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said at a symposium that decision-makers of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region must be morally and intellectually competent as well as staunchly patriotic. In other words, the criteria for those running the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government are simple: staunch patriots with a high caliber of administrative capabilities.

The reason why Director Xia spelled out the criteria for public officeholders before the three key elections is quite clear: The central authorities were aware of the misconceptions that some people in Hong Kong have about the criteria for public officeholders, and this must be rectified in time to ensure smooth election processes.

In the past 24 years we have seen too many “talkers”, “party breakers”, “onlookers” and “mutual destruction advocates”, but few real troubleshooters. Now that Hong Kong’s stability has been restored, it is the best time to improve the well-being of residents by electing a large group of public officeholders capable of making tangible contributions to the local community

Back on Feb 22, Xia delivered the keynote speech via video link at a symposium on fully implementing the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” and advancing the faithful and consistent exercise of “one country, two systems”. In that speech he explained that the main difference between patriots and anti-China troublemakers is shown in three aspects: True patriots naturally uphold the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests; true patriots respect and uphold the fundamental system of the country and the constitutional order of the HKSAR; and true patriots would do the best in maintaining Hong Kong’s lasting prosperity and stability. He noted that those who advocate “mutual destruction” are definitely not patriots; and neither are those who violate the National Security Law for Hong Kong. By the same logic we can also determine those who say they uphold “one country, two systems” but oppose the Communist Party of China are not patriots, because the CPC is the creator of “one country, two systems” and the leader of its exercise, meaning the CPC’s leadership is vital to the faithful and consistent implementation of “one country, two systems”. By the way, opposing the CPC means rejecting “one country”, without which “two systems” makes no sense.

After Xia delivered that speech, some people in Hong Kong came up with their own twisted interpretation: By “patriots governing Hong Kong”, the central authorities mean Hong Kong administrators must be patriotic but not necessarily capable.

First of all, such interpretations are based on quoting Xia out of context. In that speech, Xia focused on the main difference between true patriots and those who are not. He stated clearly that patriotism is the most important criterion Hong Kong administrators must meet without reservation but did not say it is the only criterion.

He also explained that for administrators to be selected under the improved electoral system, they must satisfy five specific requirements, or “being exemplary in five aspects”, such as being exemplary in fully and accurately implementing the “one country, two systems” principle throughout their administrative work as staunch patriots; and being exemplary in total dedication and commitment to their job and responsibilities, as all true patriots must be to qualify as competent administrators.

He also emphasized in that speech that HKSAR administrators must “fearlessly fight against the advocacy of harming and attempts to harm the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as harming Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.” That indicates the central authorities were not pleased at all with principal officials of the HKSAR government and prominent pro-establishment figures who failed to put the public interest ahead of their own when necessary, or “make excuses” rather than own up to their responsibilities in the past. Competent “administrators” are no “quitters” or “on the fence” all the time.

Furthermore, he added, HKSAR administrators must “maintain the spirit of utmost accountability to Hong Kong as well as the country in performing their responsibilities wholeheartedly, studiously, tirelessly and relentlessly.” And those words are by no means “just saying”. Gone are the days when the government often suffered “tunnel vision” in decision making and tended to lose sight of the overall situation when it was necessary to build consensus on policies concerning all walks of life, as the improved electoral system is designed to cure such administrative ills moving forward.

Regarding a high caliber of administrative capabilities, Xia noted that HKSAR administrators should be good at resolving various contradictions and problems hindering Hong Kong’s development, serving the people for real and uniting all sectors of Hong Kong society with their unique strengths in mind.

In the past 24 years we have seen too many “talkers”, “party breakers”, “onlookers” and “mutual destruction advocates”, but few real troubleshooters. Now that Hong Kong’s stability has been restored, it is the best time to improve the well-being of residents by electing a large group of public officeholders capable of making tangible contributions to the local community. Otherwise, democracy is just a waste of time, energy and resources without real benefit to the voting public.

The author is a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the Hong Kong New Era Development Thinktank.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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