The claim by the legal head of the Beijing liaison office that Hong Kong must accept it is part of Communist China has worried many locals.
Wang Zhenmin was speaking at the launch of a forum to mark National Constitutional Day, a commemorative event held for the first time in the city.
Hongkongers cannot cherry-pick their national identity and say they accept the city is part of China but reject Communist Party leadership, Wang argued. He said such a stance is against the country’s constitution.
International Christian School student Charlotte Fong, 15, told Young Post she was “really shocked at how blunt and disrespectful [Wang’s] statement was”.
“His comment is just going to provoke Hongkongers and pit them against the communists,” she added.
Pauline Wong, a Maryknoll Convent School student, said the idea of being a Communist society was scary.
“Hong Kong has been known to be a democratic society since the last century and we take pride in being democratic. I thoroughly enjoy the freedoms and would like it to stay like that,” said Pauline, 16.
Wang said that the city’s mini-constitution was the basis of the “one country, two systems” principle, which gives Hong Kong a high level of autonomy. But another key part of the constitution was the city’s support of the ruling party’s leadership.
The Communist Party is something most Beijing officials have avoided talking about in the past, so Wang’s comments are likely to stir debate among politicians and draw criticism from the pan-democrats.
“Hong Kong’s political colour had been undoubtedly changed to red since its return to Chinese sovereignty ... That meant it had became part of red China,” he said.
Pauline disagreed: “I am happy to say Hong Kong is part of China, but I seriously think ‘one country, two systems’ should remain,” she told Young Post.