Hong Kongers might have been a little worried last week after Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong made remarks that seemed to signify that he thought Hong Kong’s chief executive had power above the city’s executive, legislative and judicial organs, but not to worry, Chief Executive CY Leung assured everyone earlier today that the official’s words had been taken out of context.
Last week, Central People’s Government liaison office chief Zhang Xiaoming reportedly had this to say about the powers of the leader of Hong Kong: “The chief executive’s dual responsibility [to both Hong Kong and Beijing] means he has a special legal position which is above the executive, legislative and judicial institutions.”
He then went on to add that separation of powers “is usually established in sovereign states,” and therefore can serve as nothing more than a reference for Hong Kong.
Zhang reportedly closed his speech by acknowledging that his remarks will likely cause some controversy, but he felt that he must make his own stance very clear.
Of course, they have caused quite a controversy, but before a weekly Executive Council meeting earlier today, Leung said these comments had in fact been taken out of context and the criticisms against Zhang were misleading (via SCMP):
The situation of Hong Kong is unique as it implements the principles of ‘one country, two systems’, ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong’ and ‘a high degree of autonomy’, which cannot be found elsewhere.
The separation of powers of other countries should not be applied without considering [the city’s] actual situation … different democratic countries have different definitions on the separation of powers.
Leung angrily called out those who were criticizing Zhang before the full script of his speech had even been published. He called the critics “irresponsible” and their remarks “unhealthy,” adding that Zhang never said the power of the chief executive would override the judiciary and legislature, according to SCMP.
Hong Kong Free Press reports that at around 11am this morning, activists marched from the Western Police Station to the liaison office, holding up banners and chanting slogans that accused Zhang of trampling over Hong Kong’s autonomy and mini-constitution. They even went so far as to Photoshop images like this:
Boy, are they going to feel silly when they realize it was all just one big misunderstanding.