The national and Hong Kong flags were seen at Golden Bauhinia Square, Hong Kong, on Feb 7, 2019. (Photo: IC)
Legal experts and senior officials called on Hong Kong society over the weekend to form a united front to safeguard the rule of law and to engage in dialogue that will steer the city out of its current turmoil.
Hong Kong people need to reach a consensus about safeguarding the city and its rule of law, said Xu Ze, head of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, the nation's leading think tank on Hong Kong affairs.
The association organized a seminar on Saturday in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to revisit the 1992 speech by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the "one country, two systems" principle, pointing the way forward. It was attended by 40 experts and officials from Hong Kong, Macao and the Chinese mainland.
Calling the recent waves of violence an attack on the principle of "one country, two systems", Xu said Hong Kong will risk being destroyed if violence continues to undermine the fundamental interests of the city and the nation.
In light of the challenge to the system, Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said it is the central government's right and duty to take action to ensure Hong Kong's stability.
Tam said the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army is an important factor in fully implementing the "one country, two systems" principle.
She said if sufficient turmoil emerged in Hong Kong, the central government can and must step in to put things back on the right track.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said that even if the central government were to take action to restore stability, it wouldn't mean the end of the system, as it must continue to carry out its duty.
Lau said the turmoil in Hong Kong is actually a "battle between China and foreign and domestic anti-Beijing forces", and what the radicals demand is to "seize the power" from the central government and authorities of Hong Kong.
When designing the system of the Hong Kong SAR and drafting the Basic Law, the central government made arrangements for possible unrest, he said, adding that if Hong Kong can solve the matter by itself, it will better reflect "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong", and its high degree of autonomy.
Wang Zhenmin, former director of the legal affairs department of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, said the majority of Hong Kong people are satisfied with the arrangement of "one country, two systems" and cherish the rule of law.
He called for an end to violence, saying that so long as the city returns to the rule of law and "one country, two systems" and deals with the situation strictly according to the Constitution, the Basic Law, and other laws in Hong Kong, it will find a way to solve the problem.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invited ideas from the people of the SAR regarding a platform for discussion.
She promised to be attentive to people's voices irrespective of their political affiliation.
The platform will reach out to every member of the community, she said.
"After more than two months, everyone is tired," Lam said in another post on Saturday, calling for an end to violence and a way to provide solutions to the root problems.
The current dilemma was triggered by an amendment to an extradition bill, but the dissatisfaction of the public may also be rooted in other categories－political, economic or others－involving deep-seated social contradictions, she said.