• Tue
  • Sep 30, 2014
  • Updated: 7:29pm
Column
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 11:56am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:07am

Beijing's white paper sounds death knell for Hong Kong as we know it

Albert Cheng says by reneging on its pledge of a high degree of autonomy for 50 years, Beijing seeks to turn the SAR into just another Chinese city

BIO

Ir. Albert Cheng is the founder of Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited, a current affairs commentator and columnist. He was formerly a direct elected Hong Kong SAR Legislative Councillor. Mr Cheng was voted by Time Magazine in 1997 as one of "the 25 most influential people in new Hong Kong" and selected by Business Week in 1998 as one of "the 50 stars of Asia".  
 

The State Council's white paper on the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong is tantamount to a death certificate for China's promise of a "high degree of autonomy" in the special administrative region.

The paper was published in Chinese and English and has also been translated into French, Russian, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese.

It is obviously meant to be an international announcement of Beijing's latest policy on Hong Kong, almost 30 years after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration spelling out the conditions of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule.

Much of this wordy document is typical propaganda.

Take the section on "Supporting Hong Kong in the fight against Sars", for example. It reads: "To ensure the safety of life of the Hong Kong people and help the Hong Kong economy climb out of recession, the central government promptly lent a helping hand. Although the mainland also needed medical supplies in the fight against Sars, the central government provided a large quantity of free medical supplies to Hong Kong."

What it does not say is that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus that was spread to the world via Hong Kong came from the mainland. Hong Kong was caught unprepared because of the Chinese authorities' cover-up of the health crisis despite media reports of growing panic.

If the central government had warned Hong Kong and the World Health Organisation of the hazard, our frontline medical staff might have had the first Sars patient in the city quarantined in time after he was admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital.

Propaganda aside, the white paper also signals a drastic change of Beijing's attitude to how Hong Kong is to be run.

It declares that "the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR is not full autonomy, nor a decentralised power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorised by the central leadership. The high degree of autonomy of HKSAR is subject to the level of the central leadership's authorisation. There is no such thing called 'residual power'."

That is to say, Beijing can dictate what can or cannot be done in Hong Kong, as it sees fit. This, of course, includes the plan for the next chief executive to be elected on a "one-person, one-vote" basis in 2017.

This is a far cry from what Hong Kong people and the world were given to understand. China is supposed to exercise control only over the SAR's defence and diplomatic affairs. Apart from that, Hong Kong should have a free hand in administering its domestic affairs.

The paper also introduces "patriotism" as a selection criterion for officials of the SAR government, including judges at all levels. The notion of "Hong Kong people running Hong Kong" has now been twisted into "Hong Kong patriots running Hong Kong".

Top officials, of course, have to take an oath of allegiance before they take office. Yet, patriotism is not a legal concept. In practice, it will be up to Beijing to define who is patriotic.

Even a former communist high official closely involved in the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s has found the white paper unpalatable.

Bao Tong, the former policy secretary of Zhao Ziyang , who signed the Joint Declaration as Chinese premier, has urged the Chinese authorities to retract the white paper so as to salvage its international reputation.

Bao denounced the paper as a short-sighted attempt to suppress the Occupy Central movement.

His views, expressed through the international media, resonate with mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong.

In June 1995, Fortune magazine screamed in its cover story, "The Death of Hong Kong", saying that under Chinese rule Hong Kong would lose its role as an international commercial and financial hub. Twelve years later, the magazine back-tracked and conceded, "Well, we were wrong … reports of Hong Kong's death have been greatly exaggerated."

Another seven years have gone by. Fortune's original prediction now does not seem that far off the mark, after all. The promise of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy is meant to be valid for at least 50 years. The white paper, however, has ended that 33 years too early.

Critics have taken the white paper as a renunciation of "one country, two systems" as we know it.

We can hardly depend on Leung Chun-ying's administration to defend our rights. Instead, top local officials have been lobbying community leaders to rally behind the white paper.

It is now up to Hongkongers to speak up in the critical months ahead to fight for what we deserve.

The legal fraternity will launch a protest march from the High Court to the Court of Final Appeal next week.

Lawyers are, for the most part, not accustomed to street action. This may as well mark the beginning of a new campaign to prevent Hong Kong from degenerating into just another Chinese city under communist rule.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. taipan@albertcheng.hk

Share

Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

47

This article is now closed to comments

leepan
Actually, he looks familiar.
whymak
How About,
So you're on the nut case of a one-dimensional animal. I am afraid the math illiterate doesn't know what you're talking about. Here is the math and physics.
One can easily deduce his thinking and experiences of a one dimensional human being. But knowing why he is trapped in an absolute zero intellectual ground state will remain a mystery. Most ground states could be occasionally excited with right photon energy, not him.
If his 1D universe is open, then he will persist with single hate China theme per secula seculorum, which is the case here. If it is a closed universe, his mouth will meet his a**hole. That's true too. Here is the cosmological paradox of a nut case that is beyond all human intellect.
All talks about reason, facts,math and science are useless. He will just regurgitate endlessly one single hate-China theme and name-calling. I don't think he understands that even light has a speed limit, let alone being mentally equipped to understand space-time examples cited here. This nut case is beyond all human comprehension.
321manu
Well, the amateur psychologist strikes again. He sure spends a lot of time deducing the background and make-up of folks he doesn't know. He's wrong all the time, which guarantees him his amateur status. His time would be better spent learning to use better logic, or any logic at all. But it's probably too late to teach that old dog any new tricks.
Me, I don't worry about what whymak is or isn't. He's a dufus, sure. But all CCP stooges are. That's all I need to know, or care to know, about them.
The rest of the time I devote to this site is spent being amused, or bemused, by the sorry excuses for "arguments" these guys offer up. The saving grace is that they do so regularly, so I'm getting a good return on investment.
whymak
suewilliams321:
Your criticism of Mr. Cheng reading skills is justified. I have made this point below:
"I am skeptical about your (Cheng's) literacy level in interpreting the contents of the White Paper. Please tell us who your ghost writer is. I don’t think you're the author because this piece here bears no resemblance to the gutter putdowns that you meted out so generously to callers in your radio talk shows."
My note is now clustered by other rants with a single hate China theme and name calling attacks.
If Mr. Cheng and his followers here are examples of fair and balanced views in democracies, would you want to give them the rights in a chaotic nomination process? Just remember the usual agendas of anarchists and nihilists.
The reporting in 1990 of the brutal beating and rape of an investment bankers by 5 minority youths in Central Park is a good example. Care to talk about Tiananmen, anyone? This is in New York Times today:
www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/nyregion/5-exonerated-in-central-park-jogger-case-are-to-settle-suit-for-40-million.html?emc=edit_th_20140620&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=36373939&_r=0
It is obvious that rule and law and free press of democracies are perfectly capable to perpetrate tissues of lies even in their own backyard.
The readers mob here out to demonize Hong Kong and China with their lies are no different. Their feel-good hate passion just can't be denied. It is a sad human condition -- a mindless regurgitation of Democracy universal values.
321manu
Huh? Yet another example of whymak and folks of his ilk, offering up "facts" of no relevance, with no point, and in support of no particular argument.
What does the settlement in that case of NY wrongful conviction have to do with anything being discussed here? The prosecutorial process made a mistake in Manhattan, and that means "rule of law" and "freedom of the press" are not worthy of preservation in HK? Seriously, what do you guys smoke?
Why do you think the nomination process would be "chaotic"? It might be complicated and overwhelming to CCP simpletons like you who have been engineered to resist the concept at all costs, but I doubt it would be too taxing for normal HKers.
Listen, you don't like it, and that's fine. Don't participate. But don't do the automatic CCP thing and try to deny the rights of others. Not everyone is as deep into the koolaid as you and your ilk are. You can look at the HKTP survey if you want proof of that...although I'm sure you're much too afraid to face reality, or facts.
lucifer
It really is hard to believe that so many people are just figuring this out now. Turning Hong Kong into just another Chinese City was the plan all along and we have seen so many examples to support this over the last 15 years. It really is a race against time.....fortunately, the signs of her demise are getting clearer every day.
bpoon1pc
We need to be very fair to Chinese government and the White Paper is a MUST-do for Chinese government at this stage. Otherwise, Hong Kong will be moved to a very dangerous zone with endless chaos with no progress. We have learnt from 17-year experience that if Chinese governement does not set the right tone and clarify what are and are not acceptable, Hong Kong future will be guided by mindless politican without pointless discussion. The groud rule set by the White Paper is crystal clear and Chinese government want Hong Konger people to select the Chief Executive based on the framework in the basic law. Nothing more and nothing less. For those who want to re-create a new game and rules outside the framework of basic law, they must be criticzed first on their intention. Albert is one of the master to create Chaos in Tung's government and he remained complete silence under Tsang's administration and he has absolutely no credibilty. I question why SCMP invites him to write! Albert should write in Apple Daily.
ejmciii
So what you are saying is that HK people are too stupid to rule themselves and need to have tyrants in Beijing to order us how to act and think. If we do as they order, then we will progress. I tend not to believe that. I think the people here are pretty capable of saying what they want and what they don't want. And that makes Beijing very nervous because they are not used to normal people, meaning non-communists, getting involved in ruling. Nowhere in the basic law does it say that the people cannot choose the CE. Nowhere does it say that the Mainland government must choose the people who can be CE, which is what Beijing wants to do. It is they who are changing the deal, sir. Mr. Ho is quite correct in his assessment, even in your masters in Beijing do not like it.
leepan
Not a matter of whether HK people are stupid. A constitution is a constitution.
suewilliams321
1. A politically savvy HKonger should be aware of the implication of pan democrat leaders Anson Chan & Martin Lee's recent official visit to US Govt/NGOs at a critical time. They doubtless discussed/ took advice on HK electoral matters from the US Govt, the world -acknowledged State Sponsor/Tyrant of Global Coups/Terrorism, from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Ukraine, Vietnam, Chile, Libya...etc. A govt whose modus operandi is to create chaos/war to topple govts and annex natural resources. Having such leaders is not the way to win confidence/trust of Beijing or anyone else for that matter, in HKongers' wisdom to self-manage.
2. Until the White Paper, China has not introduced any new legislation/edicts since 1997. How have HKongers been ordered to 'think and act'? Please give specific examples.
3.HK is an Administrative, not even an Autonomous Zone, the person of CE is a political/security issue for obvious reasons and therefore within the remit of Central Govt. to specify clearance requirements.
4. The orchestrated violence/chaos of the Legco protests is abhored by most law-abiding HKongers, and pose a threat to HK's valued stability/Rule of Law. No govt even in the 'liberal' West would permit violence.
5. Many non-communists such as Fascist NeoCons that run the govt of USA,are quite abnormal. So too are political Pied Pipers that lead their gullible disciples astray.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or