Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yau Wai-ching: Taiwan should consider if it has sovereignty over the New Territories

Retracted letter by Yau Wai-ching to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen 
Translated by K Li, written by Yau Wai-ching 游蕙禎 (Youngspiration) [Published on Liberty Times' website on 22 Nov 2016, retracted the same day after Yau declared it was only a "draft" not intended for issue]


22 November 2016

Ms Tsai Ing-wen
President
Republic of China

Madam President,

The so-called “interpretation of the Basic Law” issued by the government of the People’s Republic of China (mainland area of the Republic of China) on 7 November 2016 has in effect “changed the law” and seriously intervened the autonomy of Hong Kong. Without the scrutiny of Hong Kong’s legislature, the Chinese Communist Party has changed local laws without consent, and has clearly contravened the agreements made in the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (“Joint Declaration”).

My political party and I have sent a letter to the UK government to inform it of the PRC government’s crude means of intervening in the judicial independence and autonomy of HK. By “changing the law”, the CCP’s action has breached the BL’s Articles 22 and 158. A158 states that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC has the power to “interpret the law” only when HK’s Court of Final Appeal seeks an interpretation from the NPCSC itself on provisions of the BL concerning affairs which are the responsibility of the PRC government or those which concern the relationship between the PRC government and HK.

However, the CCP’s “interpretation of the law” this time has clearly breached the regulation of the BL and therefore relevant provisions of the Joint Declaration, raising questions as to whether the Joint Declaration has been rendered ineffective. The Declaration was a bilateral treaty signed between the UK and the PRC, and both countries are signatories of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. So if the PRC government rejects what the UK has required it to do in HK according to the Declaration, it has breached the Declaration. The UK should raise the dispute and the validity of the Joint Declaration to the International Court of Justice in accordance with A66 of the Vienna Convention, and consider to re-establish the status of HK before the handover on June 30, 1997.

According to the Treaty of Nanking and the Convention of Peking, the Qing Empire ceased its sovereignty over HK Island and Kowloon Peninsula (south of Boundary Street) permanently to the UK; while the New Territories was only leased to the UK for 99 years by the Qing Empire. The Joint Declaration should only have the power to handle the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon, but not the New Territories. The Joint Declaration’s decision to treat the New Territories with HKI and Kowloon is itself controversial. The PRC has destroyed the agreements made in the Joint Declaration, the only attestation it has on the sovereignty it claims to “possess” over HK. In addition, the lease of the New Territories should have ended in 1997, which means the PRC has squatted in the New Territories for 19 years. I hope Your Excellency would seriously consider the issue of sovereignty of the New Territories.

On 9 June 1898, 56 years after HKI was ceded by the Qing Empire to the UK, the UK government signed with the Qing government in Peking the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, and was leased the territories north of Boundary Street and south of the Sham Chun River, and the surrounding 233 islands for a period of 99 years until 30 June 1997. The Republic of China government still possesses the three treaties regarding the sovereignty of HK. If the Joint Declaration is no longer effective, the ROC government should state clearly its official stance regarding the status of the New Territories under the constitutional framework of the ROC. For instance, is the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon different from that of the New Territories under the ROC’s constitutional framework? Will Your Excellency negotiate with the UK government on the matter?

May I suggest that Your Excellency give serious consideration to the aforementioned issue, solemnly state your position and follow up on it assiduously.

Yours sincerely,

Yau Wai-ching
Legally and democratically elected representative of the voice of HKers

中華民國
蔡總統英文女士鈞鑒﹕

中華人民共和國政府(中華民國大陸地區政權)於2016年11月7日頒佈所謂的「釋法」,其客觀效果等同「改法」,嚴重干預香港自治。中共在未經香港立法機關審議的情況下,為香港本地法例擅自「修法」,這顯然已違反 《中華人民共和國政府和大不列顛及北愛爾蘭聯合王國政府關於香港問題的聯合聲明》(“中英聯合聲明”)的協議。

就中華人民共和國政府粗暴干涉香港的司法獨立和香港自治之情況,本人與敝黨已去函英國政府陳述此事。中共擅自「修法」違反香港《基本法》第二十二條及第一百五十八條。第一百五十八條提到,香港終審法院要求中華人民共和國全國人民代表大會(“人大”),就《基本法》關於中華人民共和國政府管理的事務或中華人民共和國政府和香港關係的條款進行解釋,人大始有進行「釋法」之權力。然此次中共之「釋法」已明顯違反《基本法》之規定,亦連帶抵觸《中英聯合聲明》之相關條文,致使衍生《中英聯合聲明》失效之虞。該聲明為英國和中華人民共和國所締結之雙邊條約,自應適用《維也納條約法公約》(“公約”)之規定,尚且兩國皆為《維也納條約法公約》之締約國。故若中華人民共和國政府拒絕英國所提有關前者於香港之作為,已違反《中英聯合聲明》之爭端,英國得根據第66條向國際法院提請就此爭議及《中英聯合聲明》之效力作出裁決,並考慮恢復香港主權轉移前之地位,即一九九七年六月三十日。

根據《南京條約》及《北京公約》香港島及九龍半島(界限街以南)的主權是清國永久移交至英國,至於新界則是英國向清國租借99年。理應《中英聯合聲明》只能處理港九主權問題,無權擅自決定新界主權。《中英聯合聲明》逕自將新界和香港島、九龍一併處理,己顯有爭議。加以中華人民共和國破壞《中英聯合聲明》的協議,而該聲明卻為中共「擁有」香港主權所恃之唯一依據。另外,新界租借期早於1997年結束,中華人民共和國竊據新界十九載,本人希望總統閣下能認真關注新界主權問題。

1898年6月9日,香港島從清國割讓予英國的56年,英國政府與清政府在北京簽訂《展拓香港界址專條》,租借由九龍界限街以北,至深圳河以南土地,連同附近233個島嶼,為期99年,到1997年6月30日為止。若《中英聯合聲明》不再有效,中華民國政府仍保留有關香港主權問題之三份條約,中華民國政府宜就新界於中華民國憲法框架下之地位及屬性,表明及陳述官方立場。例如,港九的主權和新界的主權在中華民國憲法框架下有否分別?而總統閣下會否就此與英國政府進行交涉?

建議總統閣下審酌上情,並表達嚴正立場,積極應為處為禱。就上述事宜,本人盼總統閣下予以跟進。專此函達,並頌政安!

經合法民主選舉產生之香港民意代表
游蕙禎 謹啟

二○一六年十一月廿二日

Monday, 14 November 2016

Ernie Chow: Illusion No More - Speech on 9 Nov Rally

Speech by Chairman of CUHK Student Union Ernie Chow at the rally against NPCSC’s interpretation of the Basic Law on 9 Nov
Translated by K Li, spoken by Ernie Chow 周竪峰 on 9 November 2016

Standing on this stage, I would very much like to follow the example of veterans in the democratic camp and shout with all my might “China has no right to interfere Hong Kong’s domestic affairs”, “uphold the rule of law” and “safeguard judicial independence”, and chant thrice with everybody here “shame on the Chinese Communist Party for destroying One Country, Two Systems and our high degree of autonomy”.

For many of you who took it to the streets today, I know it's the slogans of upholding the rule of law and safeguarding judicial independence that got you here. But we students want to tell you clearly that the concepts of “rule of law” and “judicial independence” you want to guard against, and the so-called One Country, Two Systems principle or high degree of autonomy have never existed here right from the beginning.

Former deputy secretary-general of the HK Federation of Students Lester Shum said yesterday, “HK’s rule of law did not die. It has never even existed ever since the Basic Law came into force”. With the NPCSC overriding HK laws with a free rein, even the basic requirement of the principle that “no one is above the law” could not be achieved here. In other words, so long as Article 158 stays in the HK Basic Law, HK could never enjoy the rule of law.

In the past 20 years, we have been deluding ourselves. We have been deluding ourselves into thinking that the CCP would not use up all its powers. We have been deluding ourselves that HK enjoys an independent judiciary that is independent from the CCP’s rules. We have been deluding ourselves that the BL can protect all the freedoms and rights we should be entitled. We have been living in denial about the cruel facts behind this illusion. The rule of law we prided ourselves with or even One Country, Two Systems itself are at the mercy of someone else.

I want to tell you a story here. Back in the 80s, when the Basic Law was being drafted, Albert Ho from the Hong Kong Affairs Society suggested to write into the Basic Law that “residual powers” shall belong to Hong Kong, in order to achieve “a high degree of autonomy” in real terms. What are the “residual powers”? These are those powers not codified in the text of the Basic Law. If the history were to change and these residual powers were given to Hongkongers then, the CCP would no longer have the right to interfere in anything other than such specified areas as diplomacy, military and national security. This has been the dream of all Hongkongers, including everybody here, in the past twenty years when we think about our high degree of autonomy.

However, the reality is that the CCP stated explicitly at a meeting of the Basic Law Drafting Committee that the issue has no room for discussion as China is not a federation but a unitary state, and all residual powers belong to the central authorities. And so, the reality of One Country, Two Systems became a complete opposite of what we have dreamed of: even the expectation that the CCP has no rights to interfere in anything except those stated to be in their domain by the Basic Law is not true. The truth is that except those rights explicitly stated in the Basic Law, Hongkongers enjoy no other rights and the CCP has the full power to manipulate us in whatever way it wishes. We don’t even have the right to say no.

You might still have the hope that the CCP could not strip you of those rights explicitly safeguarded by provisions in the Basic Law. Sorry, I tell you with regret here that CCP could still take these rights away easily with an “interpretation”s of the Basic Law. So long as the power of interpretation is within the hands of the CCP, the Basic Law is nothing but a pile of scrap paper.

It is 2016 now, and Hongkongers have deceived themselves for nearly 20 years. We cannot continue to delude ourselves and must open our eyes wide to recognise the ugliness surrounding us, to look at this era when all conventions are challenged, to identify the CCP’s deceit over its promise of One Country, Two Systems and high degree of autonomy. No, we do not have the rule of law, we do not have a high degree of autonomy, and we do not have the protection of the Basic Law. But from today onwards, if we could realise what is behind the facet of our enemy, and stop expecting that CCP would give us democracy, and not dwell on the illusion of One Country, Two Systems, and stride along our own path, then we will have the power to rebel, to revolutionise and to overthrow the unfairness and unjust here so we can free ourselves from the grasps of the CCP. If we can figure out what our enemy is really like from today onwards, we will know how to better utilise our power in achieving self-determination, independence or even in starting our own country. We will one day be able to overthrow the Hong Kong communist regime that has long suppressed us.

If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. If you want Hong Kong to maintain its prosperity and economic stability, our officials to remain clean and follow the law in discharging their duties, our people to live well, you will have to fight! Put your illusions aside and look at the truth: what is before us is unprecedented darkness in Hong Kong. But if we resist being hypnotised by the darkness and oppose to being engulfed by despair, we will see unprecedented brightness after such darkness. May God bless Hong Kong, may we unite in saving ourselves!

Thank you very much.