• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 7:59pm
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.

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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
How come in your comments only democrats ever salivate? Something wrong with the salivary glands of pro-Beijing forces?
Beaker
Soooo, I guess as Tie-1 is watching, any chance of a non military reunification has been dashed? What is the meaning of a 1 nation, 2 systems if the differences in systems is arbitrarily defined as suits the masters. And, HKU's polls that fewer people are concerned about protesting 6/4 is completely opposite of the turnout on 6/4? Does "love country, be patriotic" mean the HK judges must also partake in collusion and corruption? What else does "love country" mean if not be a "team player" in corruption based on everything we can see about how China is run? Where do all these ministers get their money from to buy flats and villas overseas?
mh0908
From SCMP:
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An independent lawmaker has denied having any hidden agenda when he went into talks with the central government's top representative in the city on Wednesday without notifying fellow pan-democrats or the media beforehand.
Ip Kin-yuen tried to clear the air a day after he met liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming in a Causeway Bay hotel for almost two hours to press the pan-democratic camp's case for universal suffrage.
Ip, who represents the education sector through the Professional Teachers' Union, said yesterday that "everything was conducted in the full light of day".
"I consulted members of the teachers' union, who agreed I should seize the opportunity for communication with Beijing," he said, speaking alongside union president Fung Wai-wah.
ejmciii
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.
mh0908
The extremists and radicals will never understand this but I think this is how most peace loving moderates like me in Hong Kong feel. The best way forward is still through peaceful dialogue. Politics is about negotiation and compromise. Politics is not about using force to get what you want. I don't want to see the day when China tears up the Sino British Joint Declaration and say, forget the One Country, Two Systems and send the tanks onto Hong Kong's streets and rule the city by force. It is just incredibly sad to even contemplate about this worse case scenario. May Peace Prevail on Earth.
Beaker
Dialogue only serves a purpose if there is possibility of some compromise. To have dialogue just to talk fully knowing that the outcome will not change does nothing. I mean, it sounds to ignorant people without self thought what you say is reasonable. But, to intelligent people, what you call peace-loving "like you" is just acceptance of what you cannot change. Say it for what it really is. Unless you can leave HK, you're no more able to change your future than someone in Mainland. In most ways, HK is already a Mainland city. The Min. of HK & Macau affairs just decided they are not going to put up with this constant protesting anymore because, with internet and TV, Mainland can see what's going on and the CCP don't want people to get ideas that this type of thing is tolerated. What do you think that PLA-Navy base they are completing next to the Star Ferry docks is for? The cannon of a destroyer will have straight line of sight to Tamar Sq, where all marches end. "Go ahead, shout and say anything you want", as someone has a rifle pointed at your face. Changes things, doesn't it vs. before he had the rifle cocked, loaded, and pointing at your face. This is your fate. Peace loving moderate.
ejmciii
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.
kim.chen.16568
ince when has Beijing indicated that it would have a dialog on any terms other than its own?
same to those ppl insisting civil nomination.
but in basic law, the nominating committee is legitimately authorised.
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?
sooner or later u need beijing approval, can u deny this?
face the reality, hk is never a country, in the past under british n china.
hk has ever been a "part" of democratic british, so?
confrontation just makes beijing not to trust hk. what beijing cares about most is her sovereignty of the mainland. only hk doesnt do sth potentially threatening this, beijing doesnt care much abt hk, including who being the CE.
mh0908
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."
sylvainh
"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.

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