China overrules Deng Xiaoping to require Hong Kong ‘patriots’ to be party loyalists

Top officials taking oath in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 1, 2017. (Photo courtesy: GovHK)

(, Mar10’21) – Any person aspiring for an elective post in Hong Kong should be a patriot, defined as someone who loves the Communist Party of China, Mar 9 cited Song Ru’an, the Deputy Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, as telling reporters.

“When we talk about patriotism, we are not talking about the abstraction of loving a cultural or historical China, but rather loving the currently existing People’s Republic of China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party,” Song has said.

Song’s remarks came in the context of China’s latest plan to impose sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s already limited election system, barring anyone not deemed loyal enough and reducing the influence of the small number of directly elected positions.

Dubbed “patriots governing Hong Kong”, China says the changes are needed to restore stability and to plug loopholes that accommodate “anti-China” forces.

“Patriots should respect the Chinese Communist Party,” song has said, adding, “We’ll review whether candidates meet that criteria.”

China’s rubber-stamp parliament is expected to give first assent to the new proposals on Mar 11.

The report noted that the term “patriots governing Hong Kong” was coined in 1984 by China’s then reformist leader Deng Xiaoping as a way to calm fears ahead of the handover that the city’s political pluralism would be quashed.

Patriots, Deng was stated to have argued, must accept Hong Kong is part of China and support its future prosperity – but they need not be party loyalists.

“Those who meet these requirements are patriots, whether they believe in capitalism or feudalism or even slavery,” Deng was reported to have said. “We don’t demand that they be in favour of China’s socialist system; we only ask them to love the motherland and Hong Kong.”

But clearly what was good enough for Deng is not sufficiently for Xi Jinping, China’s current undisputed leader.


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