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DEMOCRACY

Will a democratic China harm Hong Kong?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 9:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 June, 2013, 1:01pm

Once democratised, China could hurt Hong Kong even more. This is what Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan, a core member of the "nativist" movement in Hong Kong, told Hongkongers in an article published on June 4.

This is not the first time Dr Chin has warned of the dangers of a more democratic China. In his latest publication, he has once again substituted imagination for reason.

"What we Hongkongers need is not a democratic China, but to build Hong Kong into an autonomous city-state first, merging the British culture with a restored Chinese culture," wrote Dr Chin. Next, Hongkongers should push for a "Chinese Confederation" consisting of separate and parallel states in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, he suggested.

However, under Hong Kong's current political situation, this proposal not only sounds hallucinatory, but also comes dangerously close to breaking the Basic Law by advocating sedition.

How could a democratic China harm Hong Kong? Well, according to Dr Chin, democracy requires customs of morality, cultural dignity, civil society, rule of law and professional conduct, none of which China possesses today. When democracy replaces one-party rule in China, populism will reign in the legislature, dissolving the "one country, two systems" commitment and Hong Kong's valuable resources would become fair game to a voracious China.

All politics is local, as the famous US political saying goes. Dr Chin's cause, an emphasis on Hong Kong's unique identity, obviously has much relevance to Hong Kong - now under the shadow of an authoritarian China. He also makes sense when advocating that Hongkongers should care about themselves first before worrying about the world. However, what really defies reason, and smacks of hypocrisy, is when a champion for democracy like Dr Chin tells us that a vast number of people living under authoritarian rule should remain that way, or all hell will break loose.

So democracy is good - except when it doesn't apply to everybody? Some groups it appears just don't deserve it. The Chinese are too uncivilised for democracy, or there would be chaos. Does this all sound familiar? It is exactly what the Communist Party has been brainwashing the Chinese people with for decades. The party peddles this theory to people to subject them to its authority; and to foreigners, in the hope they will leave China alone. A renowned expert on democracy, Dr Chin knows all too well the havoc authoritarianism has had on society; but he fails to see that it harms the world order as well, especially neighbouring countries.

All the troubles and anxiety China has brought Hong Kong have their roots in the party's failure in governance. Why do pregnant women endure travel, hostility and uncertainty to have babies in Hong Kong? Why do young parents haul cans of milk powder across the border? Why are Chinese tourists so rude and inconsiderate? These are all consequences of the party's corrupt, ruthless and closed-minded rule. Dr Chin might notice that it is not just Hong Kong's maternity beds or pharmacy shelves that are being invaded by the Chinese; the same is happening across the developed world. If given no opportunity to change, things will only get worse in China, and these worrying trends would only spread further. Whether a city state, or part of a confederation, Hong Kong could not withstand such a corrupting spill over.

Dr Chin has also described many other terrible things he feared a democratic China could do to Hong Kong. These range from abolishing the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, tapping into Hong Kong's fiscal reserves, taxing Hong Kong, or even forcing Hong Kong women to marry mainland men!

I can only say he has an overactive imagination in which he transplanted his fears about authoritarianism into a democratic setting - forced unity, forced migration, and forced marriages. Do these sound more like the doings of an authoritarian state or a democratic one? In a multi-party democracy, could we even imagine any political party trying to buy votes in Hong Kong, or buy media outlets in Taiwan with public funds as we have seen and condemned the party for doing?

The professor calls himself a political pragmatist, by which he means as long as Hong Kong leaves mainland politics alone, the party will relax enough to let Hongkongers continue with their own experiment in city-state autonomy. How deluded and naive could one be to form such beliefs? Authoritarianism is all about control, and the party would never give up control over Hong Kong politics as Dr Chin imagines. Only a democracy could value diversity and free will enough to encourage experiments like these within its jurisdiction.

On the relationship between regional autonomy and a democratic central government, the celebrated French historian Alexis de Tocqueville writes: "I believe that provincial institutions are useful to all nations, but nowhere do they appear to me to be more indispensable than amongst a democratic people." I would suggest Dr Chin seek some enlightenment by reading de Tocqueville's famous text, Democracy in America.

 

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kazu.nagai.7
very interesting views from across the floor.
I wonder if peace and stability will still reign in Hong Kong if Beijing removes the lid of control over the city and allow its citizens to exercise full universal suffrage as promised under the Basic Law.
I'm not quite certain that a high level of development and education are necessarily the basis of a successful democracy.
Just look at the political paralysis or musical chairs in the West and Japan over the last half decade.
As it is, the level of self-interests and politiking polluting the HK legislature is quite extraordinary even under the current system.
And of course, let's not forget that Hong Kong has the worst Gini coefficient in the whole of Asia, which A Hong Konger has ascribed to "second wave democracies", with at least a quarter of the population living below the poverty line without adequate housing and other basic amenities
dunndavid
Jpinst has the most interesting point in this article, probably China would not be able to hold onto its far flung territories in the west under Democracy. Some might argue that China would keep Xinjiang for its oil, however from what I heard from geologist Xinjiang's oil findings have been extremely disappointing. China would probably not be much economically disadvantaged without Xinjiang and Tibet.
the sun also rises
Dr.Chin Wen actually should take the advice of Chang Ping and seriously ponder his so-called 'City State' theory in which he advocates a separation of our Hong Kong with Mainland so as to maintain our advantages in lifestyle and our politcal system and freedoms.He even goes so far that he does not want to see a democratic China for fear that it will harm our interests---how absurd the remarks of this Godfather of local nativism is ! I advise Mr.Chin to consult a psychiaist to have his mind examined or even his brain by consulting a brain expert as well though both cost quite a lot but for the interests of our beloved Hong Kong,it is worthwhile indeed !
A Hong Konger
I think Ching Ping, in a very Liberal and mocking way, has failed to recall the disintegration of the USSR, Yugoslavia and resulting mass murders of various third wave democracies. Or the economic upheavals and crystallisation of inequalities in many second wave democracies. China is experiencing tremendous upheaval as it is, sudden democratic reform is, at best, a gamble that flies in the face of time honoured reform. Every Chinese 'patriot' hopes for a solution to the one-party problem that best suits China, by adequately and thoroughly reflecting the desires of the Chinese people, expressed in a responsible way. But, such people, if responsible, are aware of the dangers of untested political experiments in esp. in China. HK, with our level of development, peace, stability and education can be said to be qualified for democratic reform, China is still working out what they want. I doubt many Chinese views privileged HKer with much sympathy, given China's goals diverge significantly from HKs from an economic, social and populous POV, but not from the CCPs long-term stability perspective, hence Dr. Chin's fear of an untested, democratic China following populous policy. Multiple Chinese states, belonging to a 'Chinese Union', with separate political systems working on equal footing, would make more politically stable decisions that HK can have a real say in. As a HKer, while I sympathise with our neighbour China and wish them well, I know which I would prefer.
babyhenry
If Chin is an expert in anything its BSING. Well I suppose this is what you get when you have clowns getting PHD in folklore, just so they can be called doc's.
XYZ
Perhaps Dr. Chin has been self-medicating? Oops, my mistake, he's not a medical doctor, he's a "doctor" of Chinese culture who writes articles about mahjong. Pathetic.
lucifer
A democratic China would result in the Soviet Styled break-up of China, as Chinese citizens realized the costs of maintaining control far outweigh the benfits. Committing single children to fight in wars of soverignty over areas where han Chinese are minorities would ultimnately cause reflection...do the Chinese want to deny others the same rights they long for, just to retain control? I think a break up is already a likely scenario. Thus, Hong Kong will likely be left to its own devices when this process begins to unfold.
alexchankc
Dr Chin's argument is fundamentally flawed and of self contradictory in logic.
I took some time to read Dr Chin’s famous book. His theory is based on twisted facts... so leading to twisted conclusion... Hongkongers being virtue citizens groomed by the benevolent British imperialism while Mainanders are evil citizens of the Evil Empire.

His book is spreading permanent stereotyping (or at times even ethnic hostility against Mainlanders). He targets his negativity to the ordinary Chinese, (not just the Chinese Communist Party or Government).
Dr Chin’s preaching violates our most fundamental core values in believing equality opportunity for all, non-discrimination regardless of race, political belief and ethnic origin. He is saying that Chinese in an inferior race that does not deserve to have democracy, while we Hong Konger are saying that democracy is a universal value for all
But sadly many of our innocent youngsters are being “brainwashed” by his parochial advocacy. It is a shame of his followers to compare themselves with Dr Martin Luther King.
 
 
 
 
 

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