Chinese gov’t needs to lift SAR people’s national consciousness: mainland professor

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Issue 503, Page 5
Word count: 502
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Chinese central government should seek advice from the SARs and create more opportunities for the SAR residents to participate when making influential decisions in order to reinforce their cohesion towards the motherland, said a law professor from Tsinghua University yesterday.

Professor Wang Zhenmin, dean of the Law School at Tsinghua University and also a member of the Macau SAR Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, gave a talk at the Macau Legislative Assembly as part of the legal and civil rights seminars that will continue to be held today and tomorrow with different discussion topics and guest speakers.

Under the policy of “One Country, Two Systems”, SAR residents were “special Chinese citizens”, Professor Wang said.

“On one hand their legal status is as Chinese citizens who enjoy rights and freedom given by the SAR’s Basic Law, and at the same time they are also protected by most of the rights entitled by the Chinese Constitution but are not obligated to perform civic duties as required,” he added.

“In order to give SAR residents more opportunities to participate in national affairs so as to increase their consciousness of being Chinese”, the Professor said people in Hong Kong and Macau should be allowed to give opinions and suggestions regarding the country’s economic and social issues.

In addition, he said “patriots” in the SARs could remain appointed to take up some positions in the central government, and professional qualification exams in the mainland should also be fully opened to SAR residents so as to provide them with a wider choice of career prospects.

In terms of social and economic rights, more opportunities should be given to Hong Kong and Macau, Professor Wang said, adding “whatever sectors that are going to be opened for foreigners should be opened to the SARs first”.

Since the transfer of sovereignty in Hong Kong and Macau, their permanent residents have also become Chinese citizens who enjoy the same basic rights as of mainland residents, the law professor said.

For example, Chinese citizens of the SARs can be elected as members and attend the National People’s Congress (NPC) as well as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), be covered by overseas Chinese consular protection, obtain mainland legal professional qualification by sitting for the national judicial exams, and can also enjoy tax and land usage privileges when investing in the mainland.

Although Chinese citizens in the SARs appeared to enjoy “double levels of rights” given by the Basic Law and the Constitution of the PRC, they were exempted from paying national tax and serving in the military which Professor Wang said were a “significant symbol” of their national identities.

Not only did such exemptions “weaken the cultivation of SAR residents’ national consciousness”, he said, but also hinder the establishment of a “dependant relationship” between the two.

“Not paying tax and no military service show that SAR residents are not ‘ordinary’ Chinese citizens,” the mainland professor said, adding in a long term the exemptions should be removed.

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