Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Photo: AFP

Top Chinese official Zhang Dejiang, who oversees Hong Kong affairs, spoke Saturday on the limits of Hong Kong autonomy, and warned against complacency in the face of independence movements.

“In recent years there were … attempts to turn Hong Kong into an independent or semi-independent political entity, breaking it away from the country,” Zhang said as translated by the South China Morning Post.

“One cannot turn a blind eye to such acts, and the special administrative region should steadfastly implement the constitutional obligation of national security under the Basic Law.”

“Hong Kong’s political structure is neither separation of powers nor led by the legislature or judiciary. It is an executive-led one, with the chief executive as the core,” he said.

Willy Lam, as quoted by Bloomberg, noted the timing of the remarks, ahead of Xi Jinping’s first visit to Hong Kong as president later this summer:

“The speech means Beijing has overall jurisdiction and whatever privileges Hong Kong people enjoy are granted by Beijing,” Lam said. “The hard-line language is laying the groundwork for July 1 when Xi Jinping is expected to visit the city.”