Hong Kong: Coming soon, One Country, One System

May 6, 2017

Hong Kong: Coming soon, One Country, One System

by Asiasentinel.com


Image result for Carrie Lum

Carrie Lam (pic center),Hong Kong’s future Chief Executive

Despite strong official backing by Beijing, Hong Kong’s future Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor, promised to heal the divisions in society. Yet in the run up to her installation on July 1, it appears increasingly that the healing of divisions is going to be accomplished by silencing one half of that divide. Actions and words in recent days have shown the current Chief Executive CY Leung bent on vengeance, and a central government bent on squeezing the life out of the Two Systems concept.

Quite what Lam feels about these moves is unclear, but they have raised concerns in many traditional pro-government circles as well as among the direct target, the advocates of more democracy and the autonomy promised in the Basic Law and Joint Declaration.

Not content with using legal procedures to have two young elected pro-democracy legislators disbarred from office, the authorities had them arrested for “unlawful assembly”  and “attempted forced entry” for trying to attend a Legislative Council meeting. The government then followed this up with the arrest of nine other activists from the pro-democracy faction who took part in a Nov. 6 demonstration against the court decision to ban the two elected legislators. The nine are charged with “unlawful assembly” for taking an unauthorized route during a march to the Liaison Office, Beijing’s power center in Hong Kong.

These charges come in the wake of 18 previous ones against activists, some dating back to the 2014 Umbrella movement, and it is widely believed that more such charges are in the works to cripple the pro-democracy movement and further reduce its numbers in the Legislative Council, thus using loosely framed laws to counter its stunning success in elections last September.

Four other lawmakers face disbarment on the basis of being in conflict with a November 2016 decision by Beijing’s National People’s Congress. If these cases succeed, the ranks of elected legislators would be again thinned, giving the government complete control of a Legislative Council half of whose members are chosen mostly by small, pro-government electorates. Hong Kong’s political system would have no more credibility than that of the military junta in Thailand.

Just possibly, harsh measures by the outgoing and highly unpopular Leung are a deliberate ploy to enable Lam to start her rule with some concessions, such as a general amnesty for those – including policemen – involved in legal actions related to Umbrella and related demonstrations. But that is probably over-optimistic. An autocratic Xi Jinping appears in no mood for compromises with insubordinate Hong Kong residents, of whom there are many.

Image result for Hongkong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline Digital Art – Hong Kong Skyline Fine Art Print

Adding further to Hong Kong concerns was a speech by a legal advisor to Beijing’s Liaison Office, Wang Zhenmin, which threatened the end of  the domestic autonomy promised under Two Systems if it was perceived to undermine the interests of One Country. Wang suggested that separatist sentiment in Hong Kong has damaged national security and that the territory “needs to actively defend the sovereignty, national security and development interests of the country in accordance with law.”

Wang seems deliberately to exaggerate the extent of separatist sentiment in the territory, confusing demands for genuine autonomy with ones for independence, an entirely impractical proposition supported only by a few naïve youngsters. The “independence” canard and the priority to One Country have thus become sticks to beat those wanting the sustain genuine autonomy and the freedoms of speech and publication which Hong Kong enjoys. Soon it may be impossible to have open debate on issues such as the status of Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet or the South China Sea.

What Beijing consistently declines to recognize is that the Umbrella movement itself, and the anti-government vote in the 2016 elections, was a direct response to Beijing’s earlier interference quashing efforts to extend representative government.

The implication that Hong Kong may be a threat to national security has to be seen in the context of China’s National Security law. This is so broadly drafted that it can be used against almost any criticism of the Communist party and its leadership and policies.  For instance, Article 15 reads:

“The State persists in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, maintaining the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, developing socialist democratic politics, completing socialist rule of law, strengthening mechanisms for restraint and oversight of the operation of power, and ensuring all rights of the people as the masters of the nation, and strengthening restraint and oversight mechanisms on the operation of power.

“The State guards against, stops, and lawfully punishes acts of treason, division of the nation, incitement of rebellion, subversion or instigation of subversion of the people’s democratic dictatorship regime; guards against, stops, and lawfully punishes the theft or leaking of state secrets and other conduct endangering national security; and guards against, stops, and lawfully punishes acts of infiltration, destruction, subversion or separatism by foreign influences and other conduct endangering national security; and guards against, stops, and lawfully punishes acts of infiltration, destruction, subversion or separatism by foreign influences.

“The State persists in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, maintaining the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, developing socialist democratic politics, completing socialist rule of law, strengthening mechanisms for restraint and oversight of the operation of power, and ensuring all rights of the people as the masters of the nation, and strengthening restraint and oversight mechanisms on the operation of power.”

Wang’s speech elicited a quick rebuke from a former leader of the pro-business and generally pro-government Liberal party Allen Lee Peng-fei. “What authority does he have to speak to Hong Kong people?” and to lay down his view about constitutional reform, a matter for the territory itself. Lee is long retired so has little to lose from speaking up, but his views reflected those of many fearful of expressing views for fear of retribution in one form or another.

In particular, Hong Kongers increasingly resent the overt interference of the Liaison Office which is supposed to keep Beijing informed of Hongkong peoples’ views, not act as the hand guiding a puppet regime.

Such levels of interference and the constant talk of “national security” are worrying traditionally conservative groups such as lawyers and accountants, and those want to see Hong Kong remain attractive to open minds and free expression, essential if its future is to be more than just one of several large cities on the south China coast.

As it is, the territory is spending large sums to celebrate the 20th anniversary of return to Chinese sovereignty. President Xi will be on hand as Lam takes over. But for many in Hong Kong there is a diminishing cause for celebration as the demand for One Country, as ruled by the party, dominates discourse, and the related concept of “Hong Kong People Ruling Hong Kong” is constantly undermined by Beijing’s spokesmen and their army of parrots in the local media. Doubly worrying, it comes at a time when President Xi is bent on reducing or eliminating foreign influence in social, political and cultural domains. Hong Kong is by this measure a gateway for undesirable ideas. For sure, closing the windows will keep out foreign flies, but so are fresh air and fresh ideas. Deng Xiaoping must be turning in his grave.


13 thoughts on “Hong Kong: Coming soon, One Country, One System

  1. Hong Kong problem, and in truth, it’s part of bigger problem of the world with China is that someone has to step up and argue China has to live in a multi-polar world, play leadership and not merely compete for leadership and impose their views. In fact that mindset of competing and imposing will ultimately lead to their very own decline.

  2. On April 29, Wang Zhenmin, head of the Legal Department of the central government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said at a seminar that an independence movement has been permeating Hong Kong in recent years and if Hong Kong’s autonomy becomes a tool to confront the central government and threatens China’s sovereignty, then the “two systems” model will not be continued. Much attention has been paid to the reasons behind the unusually strong remarks. What to make of these words? What is the relationship between “one country” and “two systems?”

    The principle of “one country, two systems” is reflected by the relationship between the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Constitution of China. The Hong Kong Basic Law is enacted on the basis of the Constitution. The Hong Kong Basic Law does not exist outside the Constitution. The “one country, two systems” model is the guarantee of Hong Kong’s prosperity and development rather than the “source of turmoil” or even “source of insulting China.” The central government will never allow Hong Kong to claim independence in the name of “two systems.” Otherwise, “two systems” will be an obstacle to development and social stability.

    The Hong Kong independence movement in recent years, supported and financed by the US and UK rather openly, has become a destructive force that undermines the people’s national awareness, cooperation and exchange with the central government. Wang’s strong comments show the central government’s concerns about separatism permeating Hong Kong and its clear stance on opposing “Hong Kong independence.” More importantly, Wang’s comments will help Hong Kong and the mainland deepen their understanding about the internal logic of “one country, two systems.” First, “one country” is the prerequisite. It represents the central government’s exclusive sovereignty over Hong Kong.

    “One country, two systems” is one and indivisible entirety. Anyone who tries to do otherwise risks harming the rights endowed by the principle to Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy is empowered by the central government; it is neither self-determination nor complete self-governance. Hong Kong needs to tap its potentials so as to position itself in China’s development.

  3. HK 1941- 1997, was ” no country , British system ” .
    Britain had zero tolerance for desent or protest .
    Now they are given ” one country two system ” by Beijing for the next 50 years.
    Hardly half way through, the protesters are demanding independence with the coveted support from Britain and USA.

    How Audaciously Hypocritical.
    They deserve nothing from China.

    • At times, I wonder how a mainland Chinese historian ought to read the existence of Hong Kong in times that there were more freedom of thoughts. Isn’t Hong Kong’s existence a reminder to us of a shame that we Chinese should not forget? A lost war, a lost people, a failed campaign within CCP that Deng has to correct in drastic measure.
      If that were the only case, yes.. Hong Kong should have never existed, and never to be allowed to exist again.
      Its’ system ought to be abolished asap. Yet, at the same time, if that were the only case, it would only illustrate how weak CCP truly is when judged against many previous dynasties in the past, and against many great nations that were to come in the future.
      A China that would make us all proud is one which could refrain from interfering into an already fragile system, embracing the thought of how proud we are all of the daughters and sons of Hong Kong, doing our best to live happier, while crafting a more equitable society, and recognizing the need to admit CCP could be wrong at times.
      I have a great grand father who get to live as one not needing to join CCP his entire life while being a leftist KMT. I hope to see a better China in the future which could embrace more than one system. Not recognizing that China is complex, inherently illustrates our inability to conceive the beauty and peace that comes with diversity and complexity.

    • Thanks for alerting, LaMoy,
      Yes, It is meant to be ”1841-1997”.

      Sorry for the (my habitual) typing error. I can never get used to it.


      Edit :
      Line 2 : ” desent ” should read ” dissent ” .

      See, real awful, if it is not typing error, it is my spelling or language incompetency. Always struggling. Awfully sorry.

  4. I wonder why can’t Maggie Thatcher defend such outposts vigoriously. They did so with Gibraltar and Falkland Island. Hence, I wonder why they gave up Hong Kong so easily
    You can keep wondering till the end of time.The British abandoned Hongkong since it is no longer in their interest to keep it. Maggie Thatcher is gone. Maybe 100 years from now, you will know what the real deal was in 1997.–Din Merican.

    • looes:

      Long time no see. I notice you’re back taunting your angmo-dingo or yang-gou again. Bad, bad boy, sit.

      Hong Kong is like a second home to me. I spend some times there almost every year as my favorite youngest daughter lives and practices medicine there. I do know something about Hong Kong, as I have many friends in the legislative and some, like Martin Lee, who were involved in the drafting of the Hong Kong Basic Laws.

      Although Hong Kong Island was ceded to Britain in 1842 and Kowloon 20 years later, within the colony the New Territories were on a 99-year lease that would expire in 1997. China was adamant to reclaim the colony and offered Britain a dignified retreat. Essentially Britain had no option but to go.

      The truth is that even if Britain wanted to hang on to Hong Kong, it lacks the muscle to do so. In any event, Hong Kong was originally colonized for the purposes of trade and the opening of a door to the Chinese mainland; such advantages are more likely to be maintained after a peaceful transfer of power than after an unseemly and unwinnable spat with China.

      The Victorian prime minister Lord Palmerston, an unscrupulous practitioner of “gunboat diplomacy,” put this into a neat phrase, a soundbite before they were defined, when he declared that “Britain’s interests are eternal.” The retreat from Hong Kong is merely the latest proof of that.

    • P.S.
      Margaret Thatcher did try to hang on to Hong Kong by suggesting returning sovereignty to China but retaining administrative power. Deng Xiaoping was so mad with this crazy idea and he said something to Thatcher. What was said had yet to be revealed. But the fact that Thatcher stumbled on the stairs on her way out of the building tells plenty of how nervous she was. Deng’s words had made her knees weak.

    • No big deal, kllaukl, to err is human. We all make typo and spelling mistakes. Moreover, Mother Nature is pulling a trick on us – it’s called aging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.