Story highlights

China's Premier Li Keqiang reaffirms commitment to 'One Country, Two Systems'

He also had strong words for those who might seek independence for Taiwan

Hong Kong CNN —  

China’s second highest-ranking politician criticized calls for Hong Kong independence in a speech to the nation’s parliament Sunday.

Speaking at the opening of the annual National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang said calls from within the city to go it alone would “lead nowhere.”

This was the first time “Hong Kong independence” has ever been mentioned in any Chinese premier’s annual address.

“We will continue to implement, both to the letter and in spirit, the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” Li said, referring to the doctrine by which Hong Kong maintained certain freedoms and rights after it passed from British rule to Chinese in 1997.

“We pledge our full support to the chief executives and governments of (Hong Kong and Macau) in exercising law-based governance, growing their economies, improving people’s wellbeing, advancing democracy and promoting social harmony,” Li said.

Macau, a small island near Hong Kong, is also a special administered region of China.

He also had strong words for those who might seek independence for Taiwan. Officially the Republic of China, Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, but Beijing claims it as an inalienable part of its territory.

“(China) will resolutely oppose and contain separatist activities for Taiwan independence,” Li said. “We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland.”