Actions of small-minded dissidents won't change Beijing's Hong Kong policies

Lau Nai-keung says anti-Beijing fixation is a sign of political immaturity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 2013, 5:09am

To Hong Kong's parochial mainstream media, whatever is happening on the mainland is irrelevant unless it is directly related to Hong Kong or some Hongkongers, or it has attracted international attention. The annual National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference meetings in Beijing fit both categories, yet so far reports have focused on the pronouncements from top Chinese leaders about Hong Kong and the fact that some Hong Kong reporters were beaten up.

Some people are finding the messages from the two meetings this year rather confusing. Premier Wen Jiabao's last work report was peculiarly terse about Hong Kong, perhaps the shortest and emptiest that anyone can remember.

The new CPPCC chairman, Yu Zhengsheng , made a statement considered to be hardline, but that was balanced by a more conciliatory one by the incoming NPC president Zhang Dejiang .

And the speech by Zhang Xiaoming , the newly appointed head of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, didn't mention anything political at all.

This is bewildering, and subsequently sent many pundits into a frenzy of conjecture and speculation: the whispers in the mainstream media and on the political grapevine are that the central government has changed its policy on Hong Kong in reaction to recent events such as the phantom independence movement and the war-cry of Occupy Central.

Such overreactions are but manifestations of political immaturity in Hong Kong. Many people choose to bury their heads in the sand but claim they know everything. The truth is that China's Hong Kong policy has been "one country, two systems; Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong and enjoying a high degree of autonomy" ever since the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984. It has never changed and is not likely to change until 2047, as China has a good reputation of honouring its international commitments.

Despite what mainstream media and dissident politicians try to have us believe, years of American and British reports persistently indicate that these powerful main stakeholders are, on the whole, quite happy about the implementation of this policy. And that is exactly why some people here are getting so restless and trying to provoke Beijing into taking drastic action.

The objective is to precipitate another incident comparable to Tiananmen in 1989; this is the essence of the Occupy Central master plan now being publicly discussed and organised.

But to the worry of the dissidents, it seems the central and Hong Kong governments are not falling into their trap or reacting according to script. The message from Beijing is clear: we don't want any trouble, but if you want to create some, let's see what happens. New leader Xi Jinping is all smiles, whereas our dissidents expect him to be angry.

There is a saying that "the tail cannot wag the dog". Our dissidents are so full of themselves they think Hong Kong is the centre of the universe and everything revolves around it. From my own experience, after a few days of meetings in Beijing, I tend to forget that there is a place called Hong Kong.

If you think people in the capital of the most populous nation on earth, with the world's second-largest gross domestic product, will focus all their attention on a few obnoxious "small gestures" from a bunch of people here, you'd be mistaken.

What worries me is that proper snubs from Beijing will trigger more desperate attention-seeking action here. There is a Spanish-derived word for it: desperados. I just wonder, what will they think of next, Occupy Central Naked?

Lau Nai-keung is a member of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC Standing Committee, and also a member of the Commission on Strategic Development