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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 9:17pm
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PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2013, 3:02am

Beijing must avoid paranoia over 'hostile foreign forces' in Hong Kong

Frank Ching says Beijing must not let paranoia undermine its promise of a high degree of autonomy and universal suffrage to Hong Kong

There are signs that the central government is increasingly anxious about developments in Hong Kong. The meeting between a leader of the Occupy Central campaign and Shih Ming-teh, the former chairman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, touched a raw nerve in Beijing, and the state-run newspaper Global Times has warned that Hong Kong's opposition is in danger of turning itself into an "enemy of the state".

At the same time, an alarming video produced with the backing of the People's Liberation Army accuses the US and British consulates in the city of supporting subversion against the mainland.

The Chinese reaction to the Shih meeting reflects Beijing's extreme sensitivity to the possibility of Hong Kong political activists linking up with pro-independence Taiwanese political forces.

The video, Silent Contest, is aimed squarely at the US and revives fears of a campaign to bring about "peaceful evolution" in China.

Recently, there have been warnings that events could get out of hand if the organisers of Occupy Central go ahead with their plans. There is a fear that the PLA would move in to restore order and that Beijing might then go so far as to cut short the 50-year period promised to Hong Kong in the Basic Law under "one country, two systems".

Both sides ought to exercise a little common sense. What did the Occupy Central leader think it would achieve by meeting Shih? It's simply not worth getting Beijing riled and suspicious.

Yet Shih is by no means an independence zealot. In fact, he resigned from the party in 2000 and, in 2006, organised a massive sit-in to call on the then president, Chen Shui-bian, who was ardently pro-independence, to step down because of corruption.

The Taiwan meeting is only a distraction. The PLA video is more disturbing since it reflects Beijing's paranoia about the presence of "hostile foreign forces" in Hong Kong and their supposed role in the pro-democracy movement. Beijing sees a "silent contest" with the US being conducted around the world in many spheres and at many levels.

But this "contest" should not prevent Beijing from honouring its promise to allow the city democracy.

The people of Hong Kong trusted the Chinese government when it introduced the policy of "one country, two systems", with "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" while enjoying a "high degree of autonomy".

Part of that promise was the eventual election by universal suffrage of the chief executive and the entire legislature. There is little point for Beijing to play lawyers' games with words and argue that, strictly speaking, suffrage only has to do with the right to vote and not the right to run in an election.

People in Hong Kong were led to believe that there would be genuine democracy in 2017. If that does not happen, many people would be so disappointed that they may no longer trust the central government. If Beijing does not deliver what it promised, people are likely to lose faith in it. It is that simple.

Frank Ching is a Hong Kong-based writer and commentator. frank.ching@gmail.com Follow him on Twitter: @FrankChing1

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321manu
There are a few cards that the CCP likes to play, which she then goes on to play ad nauseum. One is the "victim" card. The second is the "blocking China's rise" card. And the third is the "foreign influence" card. These three talking points form the basis of her foreign policy. Of course, she has other stand-by cards like "interference in internal affairs", but she only plays that one when it comes to domestic stuff, or Tibet.
And since no arm of the CCP establishment has the capacity for independent thought, this latest PLA exercise is just another trial balloon from Beijing in an effort to drum up nationalistic fervor, cuz what better way to distract the masses from their own problems than to try to shift the focus to an imaginary external enemy? Of course, this message is a little tone-deaf and probably won't play well in HK, but I imagine it is mostly intended for domestic consumption anyway.
Will there be "genuine democracy" in HK in 2017? Probably. But it will likely be "genuine democracy with Chinese characteristics", which will be a euphemism on par with all of the other euphemisms that contain the "Chinese characteristics" refrain. It's getting to the point where "Chinese characteristics" is synonymous with "fake", sorta like an iPhone with Chinese characteristics.
caractacus
Beijing will never stop tapping the "foreign devil" line. Demonising the foreign bogeyman has long been a favourite of Chinese regimes at least since the Ching Dynasty. It is an unethical tactic designed to divert domestic unrest and bolster the legitimacy of the ruling elite, but it has a basis in insular cultural, racial conceit and arrogance. There is also a good measure of resentment at perceived past wrongs and of course, China is in denial about the fact that it has not contributed anything original to the modern world.
ianson
It is certainly not true to say that the Hong Kong people "trusted" Beijing when 1C2S was floated. It has been regarded with deep-seated suspicion from day one and we've all been in wait-and-see mode for over two decades. We've waited and now we're seeing. Occupy Central may prove to be our last hope before 1C1S takes over.
kctony
"What the hel* is this one country two systems? How does it work?" My boss threw the Edmonton Journal on my desk. That was the first time I heard of it.
30 years later a Bloomberg reporter asked CY Leung the same questions in New York, slash the 2nd & 3rd words of course.
In essence people outside China were asking, "Why do you need two systems? Which one is better?"
321manu
To pslhk,
man, the next time you offer up an actual lucid (and dare we dream, sane) argument will be the first time. Until then, it's more of the usual random and loose associations of the delusional-inclined.
kctony
I think it is paranoia by design. It is just a "foreign conspiracy" card to stir up some national pride what ever is left in HK. But who are they fooling? Most HK people have lost trust in both Beijing and the HK Govt.
It took only 16 years to come to these never-seen-before political and social schisms deep rooted by the injustice we have seen in the HKSAR. No doubt there will be another trend of emigration by the skilled middle-class with children.
 
 
 
 
 

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