An original version of this article appeared in Hong Kong Free Press on March 3, 2016:
The spokesperson for the annual plenary session in Beijing condemned the Mong Kok unrest on Wednesday, but said the Chinese government will continue to support Hong Kong in its 13th five-year plan.
Wang Guoqing, spokesperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), denounced the clashes as a means by some to “hamper the cooperation between mainland China and Hong Kong.” However, Wang said the Central Government has not changed its One Country, Two Systems policy on Hong Kong.
Wang also said the Chinese government will continue to support Hong Kong in its 13th five-year plan, even though the city did not meet the targets of several Hong Kong-China cooperation projects as outlined in the previous agenda.
“The Central Government will continue to support Hong Kong and Macau as it has before, so that they can exhibit their advantages and contribute to the development of the country,” Wang said.
Wang made the comment ahead of the CPPCC meeting which is due to start at 3pm on Thursday and run for two weeks. The National People’s Congress annual plenary is also scheduled to open on Saturday, March 5.
The new five-year plan, the 13th for the country, will guide the policy areas and priorities of the Central Government from 2016 to 2020.
Earlier, Ming Pao quoted sources as saying that Beijing’s 13th Five-year Plan will not include items concerning Hong Kong-China cooperation because Hong Kong was lacking behind in the development of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Express Rail Link.
In 2011, when Beijing announced the 12th Five-year Plan, several major cooperation projects among Hong Kong and the neighbouring Pearl River Delta region were outlined. These included the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Cooperation between mainland China and Hong Kong in the development of Shenzhen’s Qianhai district in and Guangzhou’s Nansha district was also highlighted.
Some pan-democrats previously denounced the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Express Rail Link construction projects as “white elephant projects.” They accused the government of spending public funds on massive infrastructure plans instead of social welfare policies.
“TV confessions hamper judicial impartiality”
On Tuesday, a delegate to the CPPCC told Caixin that the practice of arranging televised confessions might hamper judicial impartiality and the ability for courts to judge independently.
Zhu Zhengfu, who is also the deputy chairman of the All China Lawyers Association, said the suspects may not be truly admitting their wrongdoing when they “confessed” on TV. He also questioned the reasonability of forcing individuals to make televised confessions, adding that courts would then be forced to rule that the individuals were guilty due to public pressure.
He subsequently called for a reduction, or even a cancellation, of this practice.
Since 2013, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has aired more than a dozen “confessions” of people suspected of wrongdoing. Recently, Peter Dahlin, a Swedish NGO worker who was accused of supporting Chinese human rights activists, was seen apologising on CCTV for “causing harm to the Chinese government.”
In January 2016, Gui Minhai, one of the five staff members at the Causeway Bay Bookstore who went missing, also appeared on Chinese TV in January “confessing” to a decade-old crime.