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Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the majority of Hong Kong people support the “One Country, Two Systems” principle - and only a small minority are advocating “Hong Kong independence”.
He also refuted the suggestion by some young people that Hong Kong should prepare for a “second negotiation” for the SAR’s future beyond 2047. “As far as the ‘One Country’ aspect is concerned, 2047 is a non-event,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Leung reiterated that Article 1 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. Therefore, calling for Hong Kong to be detached from the rest of the country is totally unacceptable.
To help people better understand the Basic Law, the government will do more to educate the public to make sure people understand not just one or two articles of the Basic Law, but all its articles.
The Chief Executive said there is no room for pro-independence discussions in the city’s schools. Although Hong Kong cherishes freedom of expression, he said there is no room for such discussions. If students want to discuss this aspect of the Basic Law, teachers should guide such discussions within the context of the law.
"We shouldn’t be complacent. If we do not tackle this well, this (separatist idea) could spread,” he said.
As to whether the Education Bureau should issue guidelines to schools, he said these are not necessary in regard to this simple, clear provision of the Basic Law.
He also commented on a reader’s letter to a local newspaper on Sept 15. The letter suggested the possibility of amendments to the Basic Law and changes to Hong Kong’s status under a mechanism provided in Article 159 of the Basic Law.
"Paragraph 4 of Article 159 says that no amendment to the Basic Law shall contravene the basic policy of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong. And the basic policy is Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China,” Leung added.
The Chief Executive said there is a good deal of misunderstanding among the young people about the position of the Basic Law and the constitutional arrangement between Hong Kong and the country. “Of course, I don’t rule out the possibility of people who understand the Basic Law but calculate to mislead,” he added.
Leung also said he was not worried about Hong Kong after 2047. “My view is that we don’t have to change that (capitalist system and way of life), because this ‘One Country, Two Systems’ serves Hong Kong well today, and in 2047 and thereafter,” he stressed.
Article 5 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong’s previous capitalist system and way of life will remain unchanged for 50 years from the 1997 handover.
Leung also said it was useful to know that the Lands Department is granting leases for 50 years, referring to a land lease recently granted to the highest bidder for a site in Sha Tin. The lease will go beyond 2047 and expire in 2066.
The Chief Executive said this was a strong indicator of Hong Kong’s future prospects.
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