Wang Yang makes call in annual work report, but omits mention of ‘Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong’ or the city’s high degree of autonomy

Chairman also avoids mention of bedrock principle of cross-strait affairs and decries foreign interference, hitting out at US legislation targeting rights

The head of China’s top political advisory committee has called on Hong Kong delegates to strengthen their sense of political responsibility to more firmly uphold the “one country, two systems” policy, but he omitted mention of two key concepts about local governance and a bedrock principle of cross-strait affairs.

Wang Yang made the call in the annual work report he delivered as chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Standing Committee on Thursday. But he did not mention the principle of “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” or the city’s “high degree of autonomy”.

Neither did Wang refer to the 1992 consensus – a verbal understanding reached by unofficial representatives of Beijing and Taipei that there is only “one China”, but each side would have its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”.

Wang said that Hong Kong and Macau delegates must improve their sense of political responsibility.

“With a view to ensuring that the policy of one country, two systems is firmly upheld over the long term, we will help Standing Committee members representing Hong Kong and Macau to build a stronger sense of mission and political responsibility,” he said. “[We also] firmly support the improvement of systems and mechanisms for enforcing China’s constitution and the Basic Laws of [Hong Kong and Macau].”

Wang hit out at what he called foreign interference, noting the CPPCC had condemned the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Uygur Human Rights Policy Act by the United States Congress last year.

Under the Hong Kong act, the US has until the end of this month to assess whether the city retains enough autonomy from Beijing, a prerequisite for extending preferential trading and investment privileges.

Passed earlier this month, the Uygur act directs the White House to submit a report to Congress within 180 days identifying anyone responsible for torture, extrajudicial detention, forced disappearance or other “flagrant denial[s]” of human rights in Xinjiang, in the far west of the mainland.

In March last year, Wang wrote in his report: “We will implement the one country, two systems principle comprehensively and accurately, under which the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong, the people of Macau govern Macau, and both regions enjoy a high degree of autonomy.”

But since then, Hong Kong has been embroiled in social unrest, triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill. What started off as peaceful marches evolved into violent protests, during which demonstrators accused Beijing of infringing on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, desecrated national flags or emblems and hurled petrol bombs at police officers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

At the opening of the CPPCC’s annual session on Thursday, Wang mentioned that Hong Kong delegates had condemned the violent protests.

“We encouraged [delegates] … to join with people from all sectors in pooling positive energy to stop violence and disorder,” he said.

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