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China Says Changes Coming to Hong Kong Charter

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, center, and Zhang Xiaoming, left, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong attend a flag raising ceremony in celebration of China's National Day in Hong Kong, Saturday…

A Chinese official says Beijing is considering changes to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution after imposing a series of moves tightening its control on the semi-autonomous city.

Zhang Xiaoming, a deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said Tuesday during a seminar in Hong Kong that the goal was “to see the Basic Law as something that is alive” in order to make it open to interpretation.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law was enacted after control of the financial hub was returned to China from British colonial rule in 1997, guided by the concept of “one country, two systems” that guaranteed the city an unusually high degree of freedom, as well as an independent judiciary.

The Chinese government approved a sweeping new national security law back in June in response to massive pro-democracy demonstrations that engulfed Hong Kong last year. The new security law includes a requirement for lawmakers and civil servants to pledge allegiance to the Basic Law.

Zhang’s comments come nearly a week after four Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers were ousted from the Legislative Council after a Chinese legislative committee ruled that Hong Kong’s government could disqualify any lawmaker believed to be a threat to national security without going through the courts. The ouster led the other 15 pro-democracy lawmakers to resign their seats en masse, leaving the 70-seat Council with only pro-Beijing lawmakers.