• Fri
  • Aug 1, 2014
  • Updated: 3:53pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

More talks vital to narrow divide on political reform

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 5:18am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2014, 5:18am

The lawmakers' trip to Shanghai concluded as expected, without a breakthrough on political reform. This was hardly surprising, given the sharp divide between Beijing and the pan-democrats and the complexity of the issues involved. While the meeting failed to narrow the gap, the frank exchange has paved the way for further dialogue.

The pan-democrats should be commended for their decision to stay despite the Shanghai immigration episode. This followed a last-minute pullout by some lawmakers after rebel Leung Kwok-hung was told he could not bring in June 4-related items. The crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement is no doubt still an issue close to the heart of many in Hong Kong, and the members may think it is a matter of their freedom of expression. Unfortunately, June 4 remains a political taboo on the mainland and items that go against the official version are banned. As the exchange is aimed at building consensus on universal suffrage, it would be better for the pan-democrats to focus on electoral arrangements in future.

It is reassuring that both sides have acknowledged the need to talk again. The liaison office chief said he would be happy to hold further discussions with lawmakers, including those who did not make the trip, over the next two months. The offer has been well received by individual members.

That Beijing has firmly dismissed the idea of open nomination for the chief executive in 2017 is to be expected. It has further explained the rationale for vesting nomination exclusively in the hands of a cross-sector committee. This would ensure a leader acceptable to different spheres and therefore reduce the risk of political confrontation. Also, it reduces the possibility of a crisis that could see Beijing refuse to appoint a winner it opposes. It also guards against populist and welfarist platforms.

But it was not all hard talking. A mainland official clarified that not all pan-democrats are unpatriotic, raising hopes that there may still be room for them to come forward. To what extent the remarks shape future debate will be closely watched.

We can ill-afford to miss the goal of implementing universal suffrage in 2017. But the reality is that Beijing holds the power of approval to make reform happen. It is important that both sides understand each other's concerns and try to narrow their differences. It is to be hoped that there will be more constructive dialogue in future.

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keithkklau@gmail.com
I am pessimistic towards that. no Pan-dem will dare to endorse " any universal suffrage proposal acceptable to China" at the risk of losing 2016 legco. In the past, Szeto Wah was a such a powerful figure willing to do something against public opinion but now who in pan-dem camp can lead as Szeto Wah with the pragmatism and tactics. Nonetheless, pan-dem will have a landslide victory in 2016 given " no universal suffrage" in 2017, congratulation to them.
How About
Well done to the Editorial board!
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We'd love to hear from the Board, that in light of the Chelsea Manning cables publications by WIkileaks and the Guardian, how the media and scholars now see the crackdown incidents in around 1989 June-4, as this is central to the people of Hong Kong and to pan-Dem like Mr. Leung.
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Should the 'ratification of the June-4' now include a more informed view of whether a 'massacre' took place and if not, why was it not possible to be demystified earlier ?
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XYZ
Pre-handover Hong Kong served Chinese interests well. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, as well as the Brits, understood this. Presumably Mr. Xi knows it, too. Unfortunately, it is not apparent that the officials who now run our local government understand it. They have no idea of the value that Hong Kong brings to the PRC.
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There is a mutuality of interests between Hong Kong and China, even under one country, two systems. Indeed, that's why Mr. Deng proposed the formula. He knew that the PRC needed Hong Kong as much as Hong Kong needed the PRC. He wanted both sides to continue to prosper from the pragmatic relationship that had grown out of an historical anomaly. Today, circumstances have evolved, but they have not changed fundamentally.
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Hong Kong is uniquely useful to the PRC. They need us nearly as much as we need them. Without Hong Kong, the CCP would need to create a new vehicle (Shanghai FTZ, anyone?) to get their capital out of the PRC and into the international markets. Bulging suitcases of cash are not up to the task.
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It is on that basis that the political, economic and social relations between Hong Kong and China should be hammered out. Sovereignty belongs to China, but Hong Kong's mostly free society, with mostly open markets and mostly corruption-free government, under the rule of law, with its freely-convertible currency, belongs to Hong Kong and its people, and the CCP should be made to bargain for Hong Kong's cooperation and endorsement.
 
 
 
 
 

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