Vice-Premier Han Zheng on Wednesday said that ending the violence that has gripped Hong Kong for nearly five months remains the special administrative region's top priority and is the shared responsibility of the SAR's executive, legislative and judicial authorities.
Han said the central government will continue its unswerving support for the SAR government and its police force to end the violence, and restore the city's law and order, as "no country or region in the world" would tolerate such extremely destructive acts.
Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during a meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in Beijing on Wednesday.
It was the first public meeting between Han and Lam since the protests broke out in June. It followed President Xi Jinping's meeting with Lam in Shanghai on Monday, in which Xi affirmed Lam's work in dealing with the unrest, and expressed confidence in her administration.
In Han's opening remarks before a closed-door meeting, he reaffirmed the central government's high degree of trust in and appreciation for Lam, as well as confidence in the SAR government and the Hong Kong Police Force in dealing with what he described as the "most severe situation" since the city's return to the motherland.
He said radical separatists' disruptive acts have trampled the city's rule of law and challenged the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle, undermining the overall interests of Hong Kong.
Stressing that ending the violence should be the consensus of the whole of society, Han also expressed confidence in Lam's administration in taking effective measures to resolve housing and other livelihood issues.
The SAR government will always have the central government's firm support in maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, Han said.
He also pointed to the decision passed during just-concluded Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, in which the Party emphasized the importance of strictly upholding the national Constitution and the Basic Law in governing the HKSAR, as well as establishing a legal system in the SAR to safeguard national security. It shows the central government's unswerving stance and confidence in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle, Han said.
Expressing thanks for the central government's firm support, Lam pledged that the SAR government will firmly uphold the "one country, two systems" principle and the rule of law to stop the violence.
Lam said she's very saddened to see that one-third of the over 3,000 arrested during the protests are students and that the financial hub's positive momentum in economic development is undergoing a heavy blow. She said the SAR government is determined to end the violence and provide a peaceful environment.
Also attending the meeting were State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Xiaoming, and Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR Wang Zhimin.
Hong Kong Barrister and Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun agreed that the city's executive, legislative and judicial organs share responsibility in quelling violence. She said the work of those bodies is never separated in city governance. Under the spirit of the Basic Law, the three parties should complement each other and maintain checks and balances on each other's functions, she added.
Given the protracted violence, concerted efforts from the whole of society, especially from the three governing forces, are much needed in bringing Hong Kong back on track, Leung said.
Lau Siu-Kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, a leading think tank on Hong Kong affairs, said recognition from the central government will help boost the morale of the embattled police, supporting them in withstanding social unrest.
Appreciating the central government's resolution to maintain "one country, two systems", Leung urged the SAR government to put greater emphasis on ensuring the public has a correct understanding of the policy.
She said the unrest has shown that some Hong Kong people, including youngsters, civil servants and judicial officers, lack a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the concept's essence.
Contact the writers at email@example.com