Commentary: Beijing's war of words with Hong Kong
As Hong Kong prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its handover to China on July 1, a war of words has broken out over how much authority the territory has to manage its own affairs. On Saturday, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Media Group, criticized Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress, calling him "crazy." He was referring to an earlier comment by Wu that Hong Kong had no independent authority aside from that assigned it by the central government in Beijing.
Lai said Wu's comment was nonsensical, insisting that Hong Kong is under the protection of the Basic Law, specially created for the Special Administrative Region, which gives it autonomy over its own affairs.
As chairman of the NPC, Wu is supposed to be an expert on China's Constitution and laws. How could Lai, a Hong Kong businessman, know more than Wu about the law? The fact is that these two people live in different worlds, with totally different views of the nature of law.
Wu's comment exposes the fatal flaw in China's legal and constitutional practices. Strictly speaking, his indiscreet remark amounts to a serious dereliction of duty. This affair reveals the fact that to Wu, the articles of China's Constitution and Hong Kong's Basic Law are both unimportant.