CCP puts separatist activities in HK, Taiwan on national security agenda

China's Premier Li Keqiang shaking hands with Hong Kong Chief Executive, vice-chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Leung Chun-ying, at the closing session of the CPPCC in Beijing, China, on
China's Premier Li Keqiang shaking hands with Hong Kong Chief Executive, vice-chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Leung Chun-ying, at the closing session of the CPPCC in Beijing, China, on March 13, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • China's Communist Party has, for the first time, identified separatist activities in Hong Kong and Taiwan as focuses of its national security strategy, reported the South China Morning Post.

The latest edition of Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the party's Central Committee, carried an article which said separatist forces are eroding the foundations of the party's rule.

The article said: "The central government will continue to unswervingly implement the principle of 'one country, two systems' and curb 'Hong Kong independence'... It will promote cross-strait relations but also resolutely carry out the struggle against 'Taiwan independence'."

It highlighted the need to maintain international relationships, curb financial crises, cultivate soft power, ensure food safety and protect the environment - all with President Xi Jinping as the core leader.

"Political security is fundamental to the strategy, which underlies the security of the regime and its system. The most fundamental aspect is to maintain the leadership of the party, the socialist system and the authority of the Xi-centred leadership," the article said.

The article followed Premier Li Keqiang's unprecedented warning at the opening of the National People's Congress last month that the Hong Kong independence movement would "lead nowhere".

Mr Li also repeated a warning, in the same speech, that China will resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence.

Hong Kong's incoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last week there was "no way out" and "no room" for independence in Hong Kong. She was in Beijing to receive her official appointment letter from Mr Li.

She also met Mr Xi, who reminded her of the need to resolve conflicts in the city as he pledged that the central government would not sway in its determination to uphold the "one country, two systems" governing formula.

Hong Kong media has pointed out that, when Mr Leung Chun Ying won the chief executive election in 2012, then president Hu Jintao had asked him to unite various sectors of the community, boost economic development, improve livelihoods, advance democracy and foster harmony to ensure the "long-term prosperity and stability" of the territory.

But the call to "advance democracy" was conspicuously missing from Mr Xi's remarks to Mrs Lam on April 11.

Chinese leaders are increasingly concerned about a fledgling independence movement in Hong Kong, especially after the Occupy Central street protests rocked the city in late 2014.

China's Parliament last year staged a rare interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, to effectively bar pro-independence city lawmakers from taking office there.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'CCP puts separatist activities in HK, Taiwan on national security agenda'. Print Edition | Subscribe