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‘Patriots’ must govern Hong Kong, says top Beijing official

Hong Kong
“Staunch patriots” must be the ones governing Hong Kong, said Xia Baolong - head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council (HKMAO), a body coordinating the regions with China’s central government - on Monday.
Xia, a top Beijing official, made his comments during a speech on how Beijing could improve its One Country, Two Systems rule, by fully implementing a principle which depends on ‘patriots’ governing Hong Kong.
The One Country, Two Systems policy was set up in the wake of the 1997 handover of the city of Hong Kong from British to Chinese control.
Under the agreements required for the transfer, the Chinese government allowed Hong Kong and its residents to retain many of the freedoms they had enjoyed as a British colony, including freedom of speech and a separate judiciary, until 2047.
But, since June 30, when Beijing imposed a new national security law, instilling and pushing patriotism in Hong Kong has been top of its agenda, a move critics claim is out of touch with the mood of the majority of Hong Kong’s citizens and throws One Country, Two Systems out the window.
He said a “revelation” on the need for patriotism in Hong Kong’s governance came after Chinese President Xi Jinping listened to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s 2020 report - a 30,000-word plan to get the city back on track, in which she said Hong Kong represented a “gaping hole” in China’s national security.
“Hong Kong’s major transition from chaos and governance ... revealed a profound truth: to ensure that the practice of One Country, Two Systems is stable and long-term, we must always adhere to ‘Patriots govern[ing] Hong Kong,’” Xia said.
“To implement ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong’, it is necessary to insist on ‘patriots ruling Hong Kong’; One Country, Two Systems can [then] be fully and accurately implemented,” he said.
A “true patriot” would be a pro-establishment figure or citizen, willing to swear allegance to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and China’s central government and its Communist Party rule, as one - with unequivocal commitment to backing policy that propagates China’s national identity in the city.
But it is hard to see this approach going down well in a city in which hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers spent a year fighting to defend their rights and freedoms, which they now see as quickly eroding.