Elsie Tu

Pursuit of Western democracy will lead Hong Kong back to colonial bondage

Elsie Tu says Hong Kong's so-called democrats oppose Beijing without even listening to its plans

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 9:07am

It seems that some people, especially a few post-1980 politicians, would prefer China to remain under British, French, American or other colonial rule, as she was partially colonised before the second world war. Do they prefer to remain a colony calling themselves Hongkongers, rather than Chinese? Do they realise that they could become US-controlled, like Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan and other countries that received a "democratic" vote and also economic control under the name of "democracy", resulting in poverty?

I feel very sad about young people being misled into believing that universal suffrage would improve the lives of Hong Kong people. I believe in democracy, but not the colonial type which ties it economically to the US or other former colonies. I spent many years of my life opposing the unfair and corrupt treatment of Hong Kong people by the British colonials during the years from 1950 to 1980.

Fair-minded people will admit that China has strictly adhered to the Joint Declaration

When the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, I was happy to see that Hong Kong laws would remain unchanged, and that the "one country, two systems" principle would be observed. Since 1997, Hong Kong, under Chinese sovereignty, has introduced voting for the Legislative Council step by step. Britain never agreed to introducing universal suffrage under its colonial system, while China kept her word and allowed Hong Kong to introduce voting, step by step.

Some Hong Kong people, who had never fought for justice under the British government, suddenly set up political parties after 1980, calling themselves "democrats". Each of them apparently wanted to be the future ruler of Hong Kong so they split into different groups, each using a democratic name. They condemned China as communist, but seemed not to notice that China's communism was unlike the original communist system, because China introduced some "Chinese characteristics". For example, the livelihood of millions of people was improved.

That does not mean China is without fault. The recent trials of Chinese officials have sadly indicated that corruption still needs to be wiped out.

Most of us can see that every country, including new democratic countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, was robbed of its land or resources by the former colonials, while the Chinese central government frequently assisted Hong Kong in many ways, even when we were still under colonial rule.

It was agreed between Britain and China that the laws of Hong Kong would not be changed on its return to China in 1997. That did not mean that, from 1997, Hong Kong would be independent. "One country, two systems" meant that Hong Kong would be within Chinese sovereignty, though the current Hong Kong laws in 1997 would remain unchanged. In fact, China has carried out that agreement, while some Hong Kong politicians have repeatedly tried to change it.

Fair-minded people will admit that China has strictly adhered to the Joint Declaration. They will admit that China has kept to her promises, just as China kept the agreement made that Hong Kong could remain under British control until 1997.

Whenever the subject of Hong Kong's reunification with China is raised, the same group of politicians stirs up trouble, especially to influence young people who did not live through those earlier times, to reject the agreement of 1984, and demand a Western democracy.

In fact, the central government has not stated what it intends to do in 2047, but the so-called democrats of Hong Kong have shown that they do not want to listen, or to agree with whatever the central government has planned. Agreements cannot be made unless both sides are willing to talk, but these new "democrats" think they know everything, and that the central government must accept their plans, without even listening to what it has in mind for 2047.

In fact, the radical Hong Kong democrats do not even agree with one another on what they want, except, it seems, to disagree with everything.

I feel sure that China will come up with a very acceptable plan for 2047, if Hong Kong's opposition would just wait, listen and see, instead of crying before they are hurt. Remember how some politicians cried foul before 1997? In the end, China offered a workable system for both the country and Hong Kong.

Why don't we work together, talk together, and come up with a united plan for Hong Kong's future? What Hong Kong needs urgently is better living conditions for the workers, and fair distribution of wealth. Surely we don't want fighting and killing such as we have seen in Egypt, Syria and other countries where the call for democracy usually triggers a struggle for power.

Elsie Tu, born in 1913, arrived in Hong Kong in 1951 to begin her long and uninterrupted work on helping the poor and disenfranchised through her various roles as an educator, social activist, and as an elected member of the Urban Council and Legislative Council, and other public offices she held. This article first appeared in the China Daily