The central government has total control over Hong Kong and is the source of its political existence, Beijing said on Tuesday. A white paper was released to set the tone for political debate.
The white paper, issued by the State Council, stressed that while the city could, in the future, choose its leader through universal suffrage, that person had to be loyal to the country. It also reminded the people of Hong Kong that the central government would decide how it runs local affairs.
It said "many wrong views are currently rife in Hong Kong", and added: "Some people are confused or lopsided in their understanding of the [one country, two systems] policy and the Basic Law."
The paper, released in seven languages through Xinhua, came 10 days before Occupy Central activists hold an unofficial referendum on options for the 2017 chief executive election.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the white paper was in line with the Basic Law. "The white paper looks forward to how this principle [one country, two systems] could further be implemented to the benefit of both Hong Kong and the country," he said.
But Occupy Central organiser Benny Tai Yiu-ting disagreed. "[Beijing is] trying to scare Hongkongers into silence," he said.
And Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit accused Beijing of backtracking on its promises. "Hong Kong and the international community will not play dumb. We will hold you to your words … enshrined in black and white in the Basic Law," he said.
Winnie Yip, a student at Li Po Chun United World College, said: "As we perceive tacitly the control of an invisible hand over our media, and political and even judicial freedom, it is absurd to argue that we enjoy a 'high degree of autonomy', as the Basic Law states."