It is an indisputable fact that the high degree of autonomy the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region enjoys and the “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” principle under the “one country, two systems” policy are all premised on the condition that they will be implemented only by patriots.
The late State leader Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of “one country, two systems”, emphasized this requirement/precondition several times before the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR on July 1, 1997, but first publicly broached what it actually meant during a meeting with a delegation of Hong Kong business tycoons and politicians in Beijing in 1984, when he unambiguously explained: By patriots he meant “people who respected their own nation and genuinely supported the country resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and who would never harm the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong”.
This specifically prescribed requirement for the administrators of the HKSAR is essential and natural, given the colonial legacy of the region after more than one and a half centuries of British rule.
However, this requirement has not always been enforced due to the existence of loopholes in the SAR’s electoral system, which have allowed some political opportunists who do not meet this requirement to sneak in the governance establishment. An example close at hand: Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, members of separatist group Youngspiration, managed to run in the sixth Legislative Council election in 2016 and won a seat each in the legislature.
They were disqualified and expelled from the legislature by the court only after they made their separatist and anti-China declarations unmistakably clear during their oath-taking ceremony by pledging “As a member of the Legislative Council, I shall pay earnest efforts in keeping guard over the interests of the Hong Kong nation”, displaying a “Hong Kong is not China” banner, and insulting Chinese people by mispronouncing “People’s Republic of China” on purpose.
It makes sense when some people who are concerned about Hong Kong people’s future well-being recently suggested that those loopholes in the region’s electoral system must be fixed sooner rather than later. The political radicals’ latest attempt to advance their agenda of turning Hong Kong into an independent political entity through elections after failing to do so through street violent campaigns, as revealed in the “35-plus primary” and “Ten steps toward mutual destruction” plots, has made it all the more imperative to plug those loopholes by making necessary reforms to the region’s electoral system.
Hong Kong simply cannot afford a kind of “Trojan horse” attack on its governance establishment, which once it happens would endanger the “one country, two systems” framework.