By Yang Sheng in Shenzhen and Wang Cong in Beijing
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Garrison in Hong Kong is not a "strawman," but could step in to contain the violent unrest in the Chinese city when necessary to protect the country's "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong, an official at China's top legislature said on Saturday.
At a seminar to commemorate the 115th anniversary of the birthday of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, senior officials and top experts said that further violence and chaos in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) could not only jeopardize the city's future but also the country's sovereignty, and that the central government might step in if necessary.
"The soldiers stationed in Hong Kong are not strawmen meant to just stay in the garrison, they are an important part of the 'one country, two systems,'" Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at the seminar in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.
If unrest takes place in Hong Kong, the central government "of course" can step in to restore order and peace and ensure the proper functioning of "one country, two systems," according to Tam.
Weeks of violence and chaos have persisted in the special administrative region, with some secessionist forces backed by foreign power constantly challenging the model that ensures Hong Kong's high-degree of autonomy as well as the country's sovereignty.
At the seminar, Xu Ze, president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, said that the persistent violent activities in Hong Kong have undermined Hong Kong's interests and will threaten China's national interests, and if they continue, "Hong Kong could face the risk of sinking."
Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the association added that the situation in Hong Kong is a "final battle" between "China and foreign and domestic anti-Beijing forces led by the US," because what the radical elements demand is to "seize the power" from the central government and the Hong Kong SAR government.
Such intentions and violent actions could lead to "unbearable loss" for Hong Kong, according to
Wang Zhenmin, former director of the Legal Affairs Department of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong.
"If the 'one country, two systems' does not exist anymore, it will be a huge loss for [China] but will be bearable because all it needs to do is to implement 'one country, one system' in Hong Kong; however, that will be a disaster for Hong Kong and a complete loss that is unbearable," Wang said if street violence continues, that scenario is "completely predictable. Is that what some of these people want?"
However, Wang also ensured that the central government will not leave Hong Kong behind because of the current situation. "We are confident about Hong Kong and sufficiently patient with Hong Kong's youth for their reckoning. But, for those who are behind the turmoil and who poisoned our youth, the country will not let them go easily. They will pay a heavy price," he said.