Interventions by Beijing have undermined trust in ‘two systems’ in Hong Kong
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, I write with great concern about the undermining over the past two decades of the city’s autonomy and freedom, promised under “one country, two systems”.
According to the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, the basis of our Basic Law, Hong Kong, with its “high degree of autonomy”, shall be vested with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, with the exception of foreign and defence affairs, which are the responsibilities of the central government. I was born soon after 1997, but as I have learned, the exception was often emphasised by local authorities and Chinese leaders in the early post-handover days.
Thus, your editorial (“Commitment to ‘one country, two systems’ must remain strong”, June 25), which regards many Hongkongers’ impression of this arrangement as “erroneous”, fails to convince me. Many of my friends even view the 50-year promise on “one country, two systems” as a joke.
In recent years, Beijing has been taking an increasingly assertive approach towards the internal affairs of Hong Kong. The National People’s Congress’ latest interpretation of the Basic Law, intended to disqualify two young localist lawmakers for their defiant acts during oath-taking in the Legislative Council, was a clear example of this.
The barring of electoral candidates and even legislators-elect on the basis of their political views is, therefore, appalling. This, together with previous events concerning the missing booksellers and others, could have a profound impact on our rights and freedoms.
Some readers believe that independence for Hong Kong is impossible, and such calls must be strictly curbed and severely suppressed. We may observe that the advocacy of Hong Kong’s complete separation from China, a recent phenomenon, was complete unheard of in the early post-1997 era.
I am convinced that local separatism would not have gained momentum had Beijing been much less interventionist towards Hong Kong. Some Beijing scholars and politicians have even proposed that some of our patently internal affairs, such as official languages and the education system, are in fact part of China’s national sovereignty, and the status quo must be changed in favour of the country. These comments do nothing but to further many Hongkongers’ anxiety towards the preservation of the “high of degree autonomy”.
If Beijing continues its assertive policy and attempts to downgrade Hong Kong into merely another Chinese city, it will only lose the trust and confidence of the people of Hong Kong and the international community.
Ben L. P. Tsang, Yuen Long