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  • Sep 24, 2014
  • Updated: 5:20am
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'We don't want Hong Kong to turn into another Chinese city', says Anson Chan

Former chief secretary says Hong Kong must defend core values and not become another Chinese city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 October, 2013, 5:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 October, 2013, 1:58pm

Hong Kong must "determine for itself" the role it plays in the development of the nation, but should not be content to become just another Chinese city, according to former government No 2 Anson Chan Fang On-sang.

In an exclusive video interview ahead of the latest South China Morning Post "Redefining Hong Kong" debate tomorrow, Chan also insisted she was not "anti-China" and attacked people who believed the best way forward for the city was to simply do what Beijing wanted.

The former chief secretary said it was crucial for those in power in the SAR to fulfil their duty in safeguarding Hong Kong's core values and questioned the "integrity and credibility" of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

"What is best about Hong Kong is the fact that we are a pluralistic society, we are open, we are tolerant," Chan said. "But above all, we have proper regard for human dignity, for rights and freedoms and above all for the rule of law. These are Hong Kong's strengths and these strengths are what set Hong Kong apart from mainland China."

Those people - whom she did not identify - who simply did what Beijing or the central government's liaison office wanted needed to reflect, she said.

"They don't stop to think what is it that makes Hong Kong tick … We have neither the land nor the human resources, so where do we compete if not relying on our strengths?," Chan asked. "Why do businesses come here? Why are we the pre-eminent financial centre for China and not Shanghai and not Beijing?"

Chan said people who had benefitted from living and working in Hong Kong "owe a duty and a commitment to the general public" to protect its core values, because "for some of the richer people, they always have a choice, if things go wrong here, they can up and go".

"Hong Kong is our home, but it's our home for very specific reasons, we don't want to turn into another Chinese city," she said in a video profile that also looks back on her life and career in Hong Kong.

A "one country, two systems" framework was drawn up by Deng Xiaoping as part of Beijing's promise in the 1980s that Hong Kong's economic system and civil liberties would remain unchanged. But it has been much debated in recent years amid increasing tension between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Chan, who was chief secretary between 1993 and 2001, said it was time to rethink the city's role as part of the nation.

"I'm not anti-China. I fully respect 'one country, two systems', but I place equal emphasis on both one country and two systems," Chan stressed. "If you see things happening that are chipping away at 'one country, two systems' and eroding our rights and freedoms, then you have a duty to stand up and have the courage of your convictions, that's all I am doing."

People "who have the ear of Beijing should impress upon" them that the SAR's current constitutional framework needs reform such as genuine steps towards universal suffrage and the development of political parties to "make Hong Kong more stable", Chan said, adding that if this is not done, "Hong Kong will become increasingly ungovernable".

She said that instead of criticising the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, the government should try to forge consensus and make sure its electoral package was acceptable to all.

Chan also suggested that Leung should "appreciate the importance" of establishing his credibility and integrity in the wake of a number of scandals that have affected him since he took office in July last year.

Occupy Central is led by associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting as a last push for democracy, but Leung has warned against civil disobedience. In August, former radio host Robert Chow Yung formed a campaign group opposed to Occupy Central, while all 18 district councils, dominated by Beijing-loyalists, passed motions condemning Tai's plan.

Chan questioned whether those against the civil disobedience movement had been created by "behind-the-scenes manoeuvring".

The Post's exclusive profile -- Anson Chan: In her own words


Video: Anson Act I -- Intro

Video: Anson Act II — Being a woman in government

Video: Anson Act III — The truth about Ah-nui

Video: Anson Act IV — CY Leung

Video: Anson Act V -- China

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321manu
To Camel,
HK is a part of China, although she's "special" until at least 2047. So there's really nothing to "accept", besides reality. And Ms. Chan doesn't seem to quibble with the "one country" bit. But the "2-systems" part is where it's at. There is no internal inconsistency in acknowledging that "HK is Chinese" while moving to improve the part of the system under which HK is governed. I mean, it's the arrangement China offered. It would seem silly not to.
It's a fair question to ask where Ms. Chan stood on democratic reform issues under British colonial rule. However, her previous position does not detract from the legitimacy of her current concerns. To worry about "hypocrisy" is to be standing on the little ledge beyond which lies the cliff-drop of tu-quoque logical fallacy.
jameswelcome
isn't it true that the central government has been respecting and behave according to the Basic Law of HKSAR since 1997? isn't it true that the core characteristics you named that makes HK what it is still the same as it was in the year 1997? so what have changed that makes you fear that HK is going to become so called JUST a another Chinese city? By the way, it is ALREADY a Chinese city since 1997 if you know what i mean! Don't blame Mainland China for what it has't done. Everysuccesses achieved and every mistakes made during the past decade in HK have been the results of choices made by the HK permanent residents! yes, including the lady talking loudly on the video.
So what do you want? what do you want from the Central government and the ordinary Chinese people? what are you really fighting for with your threatening of ocuppying central? with all respect to your political freedom, I suppose the only difference for HK when the lady in the video has claimed her victory in the political game in 2017,is there will be new faces in the HK government and parliament. HK will still be itself,with all its advantages and problems,as a Chinese city.
321manu
So Camel, who's line are you following, and to whom are you obedient? Sounds to me like she's promoting HK, and standing up for HKers. What would you be promoting, and who are you standing up for?
Camel
I am for HK and accepting that HK is Chinese as I am a Chinese. Anson Chan was very silent about rights and freedom for HK when HK was British and she was working for them to keep HKners silent.
Where was she and why wouldn't she stood up for HK at that time? What she is now doing is called hypocrisy and pretenting.
Camel
Anson Chan was always a follower of the British line and obedient to the British Lords
kane.black@me.com
How refreshing to see a prominent Hong Konger who actually stands for the people and for Hong Kong rather than their own self interest or following the line of Beijing.
x86zibit@gmail.com
china > hk. DEAL WITH IT
caractacus
For all her faults, what Anson Chan is really talking about is the corruption which has been rapidly pervading the upper echelons of government and which successive Chief Executives have been too "Chinese" to confront, prevent and punish.
HK truly has turned into another Chinese City.
caractacus
"Pluralistic Society"? "...proper regard for human dignity, for rights and freedoms and above all for the rule of law."?
These principles and values are being rapidly eroded by arrogant, self interested officials, appointed under the political 'crony' system.
What did Anson Chan do when Chief Secretary to try to entrench values of honesty and integrity?
In 1997 Martin Lee prophesied that either we shall export the rule of law to the mainland or they will export their corruption to us."
Well, the latter has happened, and all honest and decency in government will continue to go down the drain unless the people stand up, Tianmanmen style.
321manu
HK may have "uniqueness" in being adjacent to mainland yet run under a separate system. But that's certainly not the core of her worthiness. Gosh, by that logic, every city IN CHINA is doing better than HK's mere uniqueness, simply by virtue of being actually IN CHINA itself rather than only being adjacent to it. Yet how many Chinese cities are as "worthy" as HK?
HK has always had a separate system from China, and was prosperous long before China's rise in the late 70's. If it is HK's financial health that people are worried about, they should simply demand that Beijing stay the heck out of the way, cuz HK has done just fine with little help, and more importantly, minimal hindrance to date from the mainland.

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