Government changes Basic Law facts
18 December 2014
In a Webb-site exclusive, we reveal that the Hong Kong Government has revised its own fact sheets on the Basic Law with politically sensitive consequences. In our article of 7-Dec-2014, Moving on from Occupy to the Central Issue, we quoted from the Basic Law fact sheet (August 2013 edition) as it then appeared on the HK Government web site:
"The Basic Law is a constitutional document for the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of 'one country, two systems', 'a high degree of autonomy' and 'Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong'."
At least someone in Government must be reading Webb-site Reports, because that fact sheet has been replaced with a new fact sheet (the PDF was generated at 18:39 on 16-Dec-2014), which says:
"The Basic Law is a constitutional document for the HKSAR. It enshrines within a legal document the important concepts of 'one country, two systems', 'Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong' and a high degree of autonomy."
So 17 years after the Handover, they have decided that "ruling" was too strong a word, and our high degree of autonomy should be downgraded to merely coming after "administering". There is a big difference. The word "ruling" was never taken by Hong Kongers to mean sovereign independence, but it did give us the confidence that, except in the areas of foreign affairs and defence reserved for the Central People's Government under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, our HK Government would be responsible for formulating all other policy areas, not just "administering" a policy fed to it by Beijing, such as on national education, central 5-year planning, a bridge to Macau, a high-speed rail tunnel to Shenzhen or free-to-air TV broadcasting.
The HK Government has also shifted the emphasis by rearranging the order of the 3 "important concepts" which are "enshrined within a legal document". The "high degree of autonomy" now comes last and no longer appears in 'quotes' as if voiced by Beijing. Indeed that phrase was notably omitted from Premier Li Keqiang's first work report to the NPC in March.
Look around though, and you can still find the previous terminology and sequence on various HK Economic Trade Office (ETO) sites. We've captured them today for posterity: HK ETO London and HE ETO Canada.
But when Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying made a statement on the departure of Edward Snowden on 24-Jun-2013, he was still using the previous terminology, and made a point of claiming that the decision to let him go was "a good example to illustrate" the 3 concepts, including "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong", rather unlike the decision of Beijing to prevent British MPs from visiting Hong Kong this week.
In the Chinese version of the fact sheets, the phrase for "Hong Kong people
ruling administering Hong Kong" remains unchanged at "港人治港", but the
order has been changed to put the high degree of autonomy last and remove the
quoted voice, so it changes from "「一國兩制」、「高度自治」和「港人治港」" in the
sheet to "「一國兩制」、「港人治港」及高度自治等" in the
current fact sheet.
The Hong Kong Government will no doubt argue that there has been no change in meaning, and that this was merely a correction or a repetition of an English interpretation and a change in the sequence to one that was rarely used in the past, but to Hong Kongers at this sensitive time, the fact that they have amended the fact sheet speaks volumes. Seek truth from facts. Beijing rules, the Hong Kong Government administers, and the high degree of autonomy now comes last if it is mentioned at all.
© Webb-site.com, 2014
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