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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 5:40am
Beijing White Paper 2014
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Beijing has a legitimate role to play in Hong Kong's political affairs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 4:12am

Beijing has published dozens of white papers over the years, but few as sensitive in their timing as the one this week on Hong Kong. It is the first in the 17 years since the handover and seeks to set the tone for political debate. It came 10 days before an unofficial so-called referendum on options for the 2017 chief executive election organised by Occupy Central activists, and also ahead of the movement's plan to block the business district unless the government adopts a plan for universal suffrage it finds acceptable. The white paper echoes sentiments previously expressed by officials. But it says there is confusion still over the "one country, two systems" concept, and some lopsided views on Hong Kong's political development. It makes it clear that while the city may enjoy a high degree of autonomy, this is only at Beijing's discretion. In other words, if Beijing can give Hong Kong power, it can also take it away.

The reason for compiling a comprehensive document seems to be Beijing's perception that the civil disobedience plan and the campaign to allow public nomination of candidates for chief executive amount to a challenge to its legal authority. These concerns are articulated by Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, who said Beijing felt it had to set the record straight because "the pan-democrats tried to reject the central government's power during the debate on political reform".

They were dramatised last week when retired senior official Zhou Nan, a former Xinhua director in Hong Kong, accused "anti-China forces" of trying to seize control and warned that the PLA would step in if riots were to occur here. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung rightly said Hong Kong police could handle any threat to law and order on their own.

Clearly, in both cases, Beijing is trying to avoid a challenge to its legitimate authority by dissuading people from taking part in the referendum or the civil disobedience protest, which is more likely to damage the city's image and business reputation than to advance universal suffrage. We trust that most Hong Kong people are rational in their yearning for political development and recognise that Beijing has a legitimate say in the pace of it. The mainland, after all, has a vested interest in the city's success. Indeed, the white paper says the mainland should respect Hong Kong's capitalist way of life and draw on its successful experience in economic development and social management.

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This article is now closed to comments

impala
Wow, the SCMP is really going all out today with its pro-Beijing, pro-vested interests stance! Somebody must have placed an 'advisory' phone call to Wang Xiangwei.

The increasing amount of attention 'Beijing' and just about every vested interest group in Hong Kong (et tu, SCMP) is giving to Occupy Central makes it clear that the movement does have real teeth. And no, it won't just do damage to the city's reputation and business.

Did the city's reputation suffer when mass protests quashed Article 23 legislation? Did our businesses loose money when the same happened with the National Education bill?

Nope. If Occupy Central succeeds, Beijing and their many running dogs here will have to listen and strike a compromise, letting go of their unrealistic not-universal suffrage proposals.
Anti communist HKer
I thought I was reading China Daily or something from the Xinhua news agency. Then I realized this editorial ran in the South China Morning Post, which used to be one of the most objective and balanced papers in its heyday. Instead of upholding journalistic integrity, the paper instead decides to simply run what the Chinese government wants to see. This is a sad day.
321manu
"advance universal suffrage"? Seriously? I know SCMP editors like to be on the side of BJ and to do their bidding from time to time, but are they still bothering with paying that concept lip service?
The ruse is up. It is 1C...and basically just 1S as well...and any deviation from that 1S in HK's case comes strictly at the pleasure of the CCP. HK is now "special" in name only, and any thought of "autonomy" in any rudimentary sense of the term went out the window with the latest white paper.
Any vague concept of universal suffrage can be kissed goodbye. Rather than the initial rosy outlook of a 50 year window during which HK might be able to forge a system that could be allowed to persist beyond 2047, the new reality is that the next 33 years will be an active process in complete and utter assimilation of HK into the CCP system. Before 2047, HK will be run by CCP stooges that live in HK; after 2047, HK will be run by CCP stooges that live in Beijing.
The next question is not if, but when, the various freedoms that HKers currently enjoy get slowly eroded until they are completely taken away.
felix_wong
I only trust one thing - the just and honest hearts of HK people! We have been promised over and again during the past 3 decades (since the Sino-British Joint Declaration) that HK people can preserve its (capitalist) way of life, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and most importantly, a high degree of autonomy and judicial independence, nothing like mainland China! Are they now going to set criteria for granting all these to Hongkongers? A thing they have given to us since 1997?! Are they going to violate what's said in the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration? Are we talking about the credibility of the second largest nation in the world (in terms of economic size)??
scmpcoolguy
Are u aware the chief editor of SCMP is now a guy with a surname Wang and he is reportedly with mainland Chinese background. The editorial of SCMP these days are very different from the good old days mate.
hlcheng@me.com
What role? By ordering the judges in Hong Kong to obey the Party?
wonghln
“Beijing is trying to avoid a challenge to its legitimate authority by dissuading people from taking part in the referendum or the civil disobedience protest, which is more likely to damage the city's image and business reputation than to advance universal suffrage.“ But I see no better way now to "advance universal suffrage", and there' s little evidence it will "likely to damage the city's image and business reputation" Alas, what will indeed protect our image better than implementing a democratic system with clear division of power and an untainted, independent judicial system?
kctony
Delusional analogy. Hope you are connected to the high ranks o/w you would be just a dog to them. The writing is on the wall.
Paradox314
In the terms of your analogy, what does the parent have to teach the child about how to govern oneself?
What if daddy is an abusive, wife-murdering alcoholic? Shall the child just behave and do as told by the bullying parent?
Your analogy is just so offensive!! So paternalistic - daddy knows best, any disagreement is just willful childishness.
How About
Well done SCMP!
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Might I suggest the SCMP to urge or press the CY Leung administration to start weekly debate/discussion forums [with established rules, not fruit pelting], to let out their steam, angst, fear or baloneys, so the people can decide themselves.
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