Only “patriots” should be allowed to govern Hong Kong, says Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi made his statements weeks after Chinese authorities cracked down on more than 50 opposition politicians and activists using the nation-state’s new national security law, which has been denounced by the international community and the United States as an effort to suppress democratic activities.
President Xi spoke during a video conference with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday, China’s CCTV reports.
"To ensure the steady and lasting implementation of 'one country, two systems,' Hong Kong must always be governed by patriots," said Xi. "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."
According to Bloomberg, Xi’s comments are consistent with Beijing’s message that Hong Kong lawmakers and civil servants must be loyal to the communist regime.
In early January, the Hong Kong government ordered all civil servants appointed before Jul. 1, 2020 to sign a declaration upholding the city’s mini-constitution.
Chinese authorities have purged pro-democracy activists from the Hong Kong Legislative Council, efforts which have been denounced by the United States. Last November, then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the action “a clear abuse of law enforcement for political purposes.”
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists described the arrests as “absurd” and “completely unacceptable,” alleging that the Chinese government “fabricated pretexts and used groundless charges to suppress the opposition’s voice.”
China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, passed a measure in November that allows Hong Kong’s government to remove elected politicians deemed insufficiently patriotic. Immediately upon implementing the law, the government expelled four lawmakers, which triggered the mass resignation of more than a dozen opposition politicians.
In the call with Lam, President Xi stated that “only when Hong Kong is governed by patriots” can “various deep-rooted problems... be effectively resolved,” and Hong Kong "achieve lasting peace and stability.”
During the call, Xi also conveyed his condolences to Chinese government officials in Hong Kong, who he claims were unfairly targeted with “unreasonable sanctions” by the U.S. government.