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  • Dec 22, 2014
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My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 12:58am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 1:02am

We need a third way in diplomacy

Over lunch with several hacks, Leung Chun-ying once waxed lyrical about something called "internal diplomacy" in dealing with the mainland. We weren't sure what he meant. But in retrospect, he was being prescient.

There is strong evidence that Beijing puts a much tighter leash on Leung than his predecessors. If anyone needs internal diplomacy, it's Leung. But it's not just him. We all do, desperately.

Up to now, Hong Kong has only two modes in dealing with Beijing. There is the subservient/cry-baby mode, which is to follow slavishly Beijing's demands and expectations, whether real or imagined, and cry for daddy whenever trouble arises. Let's call this the DAB/tycoon mode. There is the opposite approach, which is to criticise and oppose Beijing and mainland officials for anything they say or do about Hong Kong, or even not about Hong Kong. This is the pan-democrat mode.

Yet, everywhere, great powers and major international organisations are redefining relations and alliances, and reworking multi-dimensional approaches to address the web of complex dealings with this new colossus called China. But we, of all people, have only those two primitive modes. Leung is onto something about internal diplomacy, though he is probably the worst person to articulate it.

As he explains it, under our constitutional setup, we are more than a city and the chief executive is not just a mayor. He would agree with my brilliant young friend Nick Gordon who has argued that Hong Kong - and Macau - have many of the trappings of sovereign states: their own currencies, borders, passports, legal and tax systems and fiscal independence. We have membership in international groups like the World Trade Organisation and Apec. Under myriad global treaties and regimes, we have our own foreign relations, if not a formal foreign policy prohibited under the Basic Law.

So, how should we deal with Beijing? Historically, the south had always been the furthest from the influence of central authority. That distance has been formally codified in "one country, two systems" and acknowledged by Beijing. Between autonomy and subservience, there is a third way to our future prosperity and liberty. A future leader who works out this new "diplomacy" gets my vote.


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This article is now closed to comments

AL may have his best cup of coffee in town. He wrote and described the two modes in town that we already know but putting them in the context of the third mode that yet to be more known to us. It jolted me. CY Leung is considered being the leader of that mode who according to AL’s description that he uses ‘internal diplomacy’ implying when dealing with the Central government.
Finally we have the right formula or even the right person to lead Hong Kong which must be run under the principle of one country, two system that while attached to China but has ‘many of the trappings of sovereign states’ that diplomacy is indispensible and ‘internal diplomacy’ appropriately for the circumstance. The potency of such idea lies much that Leung is in the position to represent the interests of the entire Hong Kong population in the dealing with the one country.
We know too well what DAB/tycoon mode had made of Hong Kong in their schemes in unseating Tung and holding a leash on Tsang all without including the interests of Hong Kong as they dealt with the Central government. Leung consequently must confront all those inherited problems he must resolve and deliver results to the entire Hong Kong. His job and his strength can’t come from anywhere but only from the ENTIRE Hong Kong.
I wish Leung the best and hence the best for Hong Kong too.


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