• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 4:42am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 3:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 9:09am

Chinese white paper on Hong Kong was a measured response

With the predictable hysterical reaction of the pan-democrats and their media friends, you would have thought that Beijing had levelled a missile at the heart of Hong Kong. If the pan-dems threaten to occupy Central, you might find publishing a white paper in response a pretty civilised act by comparison.

Those who are new to Beijing's gamesmanship may find it shocking, but others with long memories must have a sense of déjà vu by recalling what happened in 2004. There is, in any case, very little in the paper Beijing has not said ad nauseam already.

Back then, the Tung Chee-hwa administration was paralysed and Beijing deeply alarmed after half a million people marched against proposed national security legislation under Article 23 on July 1, 2003. But the democrats were in a buoyant mood, salivating over the prospect of full democratic elections in 2007 and 2008 for the chief executive and the legislature.

In response, in less than a year, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress moved to dash the democrats' hopes with a Basic Law interpretation on the electoral system. It ruled out those dates for full democracy and set up the cumbersome steps everyone now has to follow to reform the system. To date, it remains the only NPC Standing Committee interpretation that was launched unilaterally rather than at the request of the Hong Kong government or the local courts. It successfully deferred full democracy by at least a decade.

What are the parallels today? Then as now, Beijing fears it is losing the plot in public opinion over electoral reforms. Then as now, a mass rally exposed widespread discontent. The June 4 rally last week topped the 180,000 record achieved in 2012, though the police figure was half that. And not only that, the June 20-22 mock referendum beckons while the coming July 1 rally threatens to deliver another massive turnout.

But through all these, Beijing merely released a paper, rather than an interpretation with the full force of law. It repeats the same old mantras: no two systems without one country, no powers for Hong Kong except those granted by the central authorities, any chief executive candidate must be patriotic...

That's a relatively measured response compared to 2004.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
"Beijing fears it is losing the plot in public opinion over electoral reforms."And this is guaranteed to worsen that situation. Great politicking.
"Beijing merely released a paper, rather than an interpretation with the full force of law."
---it's hilarious that Mr. Lo sees this as a distinction between the two. In the CCP world, what carries the "full force of law"? Whatever the CCP says. And what did the CCP just say? Whatever was said in the white paper. CCP law is written by the CCP for the CCP. If that sounds incredibly circular, that's because it is, and it's just how the CCP likes it.
This white paper does more than set HK back to 2004. It eliminates all hope of meaningful reform or democratic progress over the next 33 years. And it might presage any degree of assimilation with the CCP system starting at any time, whether it be loss of personal freedoms, erosion of press freedom, elimination of freedom of assembly or protest, or vanishing of judicial independence. Basically, starting right now, anything that currently sets HK apart from being "just another Chinese city" is on the table to be taken away. It should certainly dispense with any fairytale notion of 1C2S, regardless of what bootlickers like Rimsky Yuen and Carrie Lam might try to say.
The countdown clock has started on the process where HK ceases to be the HK that we've all known. I imagine Mr. Lo has his passport under his mattress, next to a couple of open Cathay Pacific tickets. The CCP is coming to HK, and while I'd enjoy seeing Mr. Lo walk the walk, I'm certainly not counting on it.
"Hysterical reaction of the pan-democrats and their media friends"? Really? Alex, seriously. Everything you write in here always seem to have something to do with your own unresolved issues. It's a bit pathetic.
Since when has Beijing indicated that it would have a dialog on any terms other than its own? How do you negotiate when the other guy shows no sign of compromise and insists on making sure that your only choice in the CE election is a guy they approve, as has been done each time since the Handover? Where do you see compromise from the Masters? No place. Now you may be happy to sell your soul for the promise of a few shekels from the Masters but I doubt "most peace loving moderates...in Hong Kong" are ready to do so, at least based upon the debate to date. Sadly, your and seemingly Alex's idea of peace is peace through appeasement. It did not work so well for Chamberlain in dealing with Hitler. Why do you think it will work here when dealing with a nation that has never had a real history of democracy and has sought instead for the lion's share of its existence to keep the populace under control by the scourge or the gun. At what point do you think the masters will give you freedom back after you cede it to them? My guess is quarter past never.
the only thing that this 'white paper' achieved is ensuring the there is going to be a big turnout on July 1st... well, and I guess in Taiwan they are watching very closely how the CCP is handling the 1 country 2 system approach
It was only a matter of time before we received your measured response to the White Paper. If such things as the issue of judicial independence are in your opinion just gentle reminders of the way things are, then you are obviously in cloud cuckoo land. You are alone in interpreting this Paper as being of no consequence. The public and indeed the authors of the Paper themselves would likely take issue with you.
Measured response? What were you on when you wrote this drivel?
Good point. They could have marched the PLA storm troopers into HK and killed a whole lot of perceived dissidents, but they just leveled a policy paper which clearly has etched the handwriting on the wall as to how the masters see one nation-two systems. I guess you are right, Alex. We should kiss their feet for not sending the storm troopers in. Perhaps we also should be doing a bit more genuflecting when we speak of the Masters. I guess that would make the Beijing sycophants happy. What a sad, sad joke. We must all become better slaves to the Masters. All this thinking and disagreeing with princes and princelings is very non-harmonious. I guess that free speech applies even to those who advocate taking the free speech of others away. A sad, sad joke.
Sir, you speak as if Hong Kong is not a sovereign territory of China. The reality is that Hong Kong is merely a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. China, in particular the Liaison Office in Hong Kong, has been sending invitations to all Legislators to meet and discuss Hong Kong's future, not just the election. Yet, the Pan Democrats, except for Mr. Ip Kin Yuen (I posted above), refused to meet. That is why I miss Mr. Szeto Wah. He had the wisdom to understand that politics is about discussion and compromise.
From wikipedia: "Although Szeto has mainly been critical of mainland authorities, he made a controversial surprising move in May 2010 in support of the Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the LegCo in 2012 after the central government had endorsed the Democratic Party's proposal to revise it."
Anti communist HKer
Columnist or Communist?




SCMP.com Account