China's President Xi says 'patriots' should govern Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping's comments underscore Beijing's consistent message that Hong Kong's lawmakers and civil servants need to be patriotic. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong should be governed by "patriots" in comments that come just weeks after more than 50 opposition politicians and activists were arrested using the city's new Beijing-drafted national security law.

China's leader made the statement in a video conference with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday (Jan 27), according to state broadcaster CCTV.

"To ensure the steady and lasting implementation of 'one country, two systems,' Hong Kong must always be governed by patriots," Mr Xi said in his conversation with Mrs Lam. "This is the fundamental principle that bears on China's sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability."

The comments from Mr Xi underscore Beijing's consistent message that Hong Kong's lawmakers and civil servants need to be patriotic.

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government said all civil servants appointed before July 1, 2020, would be asked to sign a declaration they would uphold the city's mini-constitution.

In recent months, Chinese authorities have tried to purge pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong's Legislative Council, fueling condemnation by foreign governments including the United States.

In November, China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress Standing Committee, passed a measure allowing Hong Kong's government to oust elected politicians deemed insufficiently patriotic.

The government immediately expelled four lawmakers, triggering the mass resignation of more than a dozen opposition politicians.

Mr Xi told Mrs Lam that it's "only when Hong Kong is governed by patriots" that "various deep-rooted problems can be effectively resolved, and Hong Kong can achieve lasting peace and stability."

According to the report, Mr Xi also asked Mrs Lam to convey his condolences to relevant Hong Kong government officials that the US government has targeted for "unreasonable sanctions."

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