As China continues to face host of threats to the country's status quo from Hong Kong, it has warned the semi-autonomous city-state to forget its dream of obtaining complete separation from the mainland.
A senior Chinese official on Saturday (31 December) reiterated the Communist party's stand and ruled out independence for Hong Kong under "one country, two systems" arrangement.
The head of China's Hong Kong Macau Affairs Office, Wang Guangya, told pro-Beijing Hong Kong magazine The Bauhinia that "under 'one country, two systems' there is absolutely no space for 'Hong Kong independence'", in comments carried in the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily on Saturday.
However, he added that there can be tolerance for difference in the systems between Hong Kong and Beijing.
The communist leaders are said to be increasingly worried about the new growing pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the former British colony, which returned to mainland rule in 1997. The recent protests in the city have further irked Beijing as it doesn't want Hong Kong to break the long-standing autonomy known as "one country, two systems".
"Hong Kong is an inseparable part of the country and in no situation is 'Hong Kong independence' allowed. This is a bottom line that cannot be touched in 'one country, two systems'," Reuters cited Wang as saying.
He agreed that given this agreement is new - and has no ready-made experience to draw from – it results in "new situations, new problems and new challenges".
"You can't expect it to be all plain sailing. The central government has confidence in and patience with Hong Kong. As long as the 'one country' principle is not damaged, the difference in the 'two systems' absolutely can be tolerated and respected," Wang added.
Earlier in November, China's parliament staged a rare interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law. It barred pro-independence lawmakers in the city from taking oath for office.
Wang defended this interpretation and said it did not affect the independence of the legal system in Hong Kong. However, that independence cannot stop China's parliament's ability to interpret the Basic Law, he added.
"It needs to be pointed out that the independence of the legal system is an important principle of the rule of law in Hong Kong, and the central government has always cherished and protected the independence of Hong Kong's legal system," Reuters cited Wang as saying.
Since Beijing has the ultimate control, Hong Kong democracy fighters are said to be constantly anxious that the Communist Party rulers are interfering to head off dissent. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week that he supported the pro-China Hong Kong government's move to curb any actions that calls for or promotes independence for the global financial hub.