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  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 11:35am
Beijing White Paper 2014
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POLITICS

Hong Kong’s faith in ‘one country, two systems’ is at risk, Jasper Tsang warns

Legco president warns that a failure to achieve universal suffrage in 2017 may shake the city's trust in the 'one country, two systems' formula

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 8:12am
 

Failure to achieve universal suffrage in 2017 would deal a serious blow to Hongkongers' confidence in the "one country, two systems" formula, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has warned.

"If we can't forge a consensus for the 2017 chief executive election, I can't see that it could be done in 2022 or 2027 - or even 2047 - as the voices of radicals in Hong Kong would gain the upper hand and Beijing's stance would get even tougher," he said.

Tsang also said Hongkongers should be aware of the possibility that state leaders may rethink the city's very autonomy if they believed the situation here had degenerated to an extent that it threatened national security.

In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post yesterday, he said attitudes of Hongkongers and the central government had hardened since the release of the white paper in which Beijing asserted its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong.

The Beijing-friendly politician spoke a week after the July 1 march. Organisers estimated 510,000 people took to the streets while the police put the largest number of marchers at any one time at 98,600. A study commissioned by the Post estimated that 140,000 people took part.

Tsang said a substantial number of people had marched because they misunderstood the white paper issued by the State Council last month, although he believed 90 per cent of them had not read the full text of the controversial official document.

"The central government issued the white paper because it considers some views expressed during the political reform consultation obviously deviate from the Basic Law," he said.

"Beijing sought to reassure Hongkongers it was not tightening its policies towards Hong Kong. Yet many people voted in the unofficial referendum on political reform and joined the march in defiance of the white paper," the Legco chief said.

"This would only add to Beijing's fears about the situation in Hong Kong and [cause it to] toughen its stance.

"The most worrying development in the past few weeks is both Beijing and Hongkongers falling into a vicious cycle that is not conducive to narrowing differences on electoral reform."

Tsang, a leading moderate in the pro-establishment camp, has been seeking consensus on universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election.

"If we can't achieve universal suffrage in 2017, it will seriously deal a blow to Hongkongers' confidence in 'one country, two systems'," said Tsang, who was founding chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong.

Tsang said the path of "one country, two systems" was quite precarious and there was a need to strike a "fine balance".

He pointed to the report delivered to the Communist Party's national congress in 2012, which stated that the main goal of Beijing's policy towards Hong Kong and Macau was to "uphold China's sovereignty, security and development interests".

Hong Kong's prosperity was crucial in 1984, when the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed under the "one country, two systems" formula, Tsang said.

But "nowadays our country's economy has been developing rapidly".

He went on: "We Hongkongers must ask ourselves whether Hong Kong's contribution to our country outweighs the trouble we cause.

"If we don't … at least set Beijing's mind at ease that the situation in Hong Kong won't endanger national security, the new generation of state leaders may rethink whether 'one country, two systems' has really brought benefit to the country."

 

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This article is now closed to comments

cleareye
Most people in Hong Kong don't understand fully the concept of "One Country, Two System" 一國两制. The English version is actually not representative of the Chinese version, which in fact, states "One Country, Two GOVERNING system" or 一個國家,两個制度。 However, people today think it is "One Country, Two Independent System" 一國分制 or "One Country, One Hong Kong" which is disillusioned as they forgot that the PLA marched in to replace the Royal Force when the Chinese flag was raised on July 1, 1997. It is also not true that the two governing systems are equal in power. It is hierarchical. The autonomy that Hong Kong has is no more or less than those enjoyed by each province in China, where Beijing proclaims a direction, and all the provinces enact according to their economic ability, geographic advantages/disadvantages, and local cultural expectations. Deng's promise was that Beijing would not micromanage the territory, instead of some believing that Hong Kong can borderlines itself to succession. Did the Brits leave behind a huge stock of opium for the Pro-Dem's enjoyment?
anotherguy
Can you divorce your parent? Ans is no. HK is trying to disown his own parent rather than searching for compromise. Someone should really instill some basic perspectives and set the foundation right for the many of the confused minds we see nowadays. If the child wants to disown the parent, he should also leave the parents' home and be fully independent. Leave HK for god sake and search for your ideal home else where. Let the willing sons remain.
53bbb501-dba4-4add-b190-4c480a320968
Jasper Tsang has understated the impact of failing to achieve universal suffrage by 2017. Political reforms are urgently required to redress the government's lack of popular mandate. As well as being a big PR disaster domestically and internationally, failure to do so would condemn Hong Kong to yet another decade of ineffective governance, self-indulged in political reforms discussions whilst standoff between appointed policy makers and elected legislators (who approve laws to make policies work) continue to spill out onto the streets. All the while, problems of income inequality, deteriorating education standards, air pollution still unsolved, and demands for better hospitals and more house building left unmet. And with its under-modernized economy and infrastructure over reliant on supply from mainland and on the financial sector, the future is bleak. The central government is playing fair when it makes clear that it prioritizes China's national interests and sovereign integrity, over the wishes of Hong Kong or the city's prosperity. Hong Kongers must realize that not only their democratic autonomy is at stake here, and they must fight for the prosperity of their home city, and for the welfare of their families and local communities. Sometimes being held at gunpoint make the choice rather clearer, as Jasper eloquently reminded us. Indeed, we have a lot to be grateful for.
chuchu59
A consensus can only be reached if at least one of the 2 sides is willing to step up and compromise. None is doing that at the moment.
blue
"The autonomy that Hong Kong has is no more or less than those enjoyed by each province in China"

You are the biggest BSer on here. I'll grant you that China is a unitary state and that HK is authorized a high degree of autonomy by Beijing. But it is not "more or less" than those enjoyed by each province in China.

Other provinces can not issue passports on their own, they can't have their own immigration department, they can't have their own customs, they can't have their own courts and legal system, and they certainly can't have their own currency. Oh and yeah, did you forget that HK is an incorporated entity with its own Charter that states that most national laws do not apply?

Like someone else said; you don't have clear eyes. You're suffering from short sightedness and a severe case of cataracts.
chuchu59
Where do you get the silly idea that HK is trying to disown China. If anything, your remark seems to be suggesting HK should advocate independence. No, most HK people dont want that.
anotherguy
He is not the only sound one but he is definitely the one who can hit home the message better than most other people. sometimes reason is on pro-establishment side but they cannot string together the proper words. Anyway, focus on CE election is really totally misplaced even though there is symbolic significance. The bigger problem is the quality of our legco where the standards are appalling even though some seem to receive proper education. Apparently.
boondeiyan
Revisionist history and the regurgitated false dichotomy between freedom of expression and national security that one would expect from any self-respecting CPC cadre.
boondeiyan
Quite the opposite in fact. HK people got the gist (sorry, the 实质) of the Joint Declaration: one country, and the Brits have left us to fend for ourselves. Tens of thousands promptly emigrated in search of alternative passports.
.
Did so many return because, well, they were simply poor judges of Deng Xiaoping's motives? Or were they entirely rational in their assessment that the central government was leaving HK alone mostly because of the economic opportunity cost (e.g. Taiwan) from usurping the Joint Declaration? If there is a misunderstanding in HK today it might well be the perceived strength of that economic deterrent. In that respect the struggle for popular franchise is a sideshow. The real event is the next wave of disillusioned emigrants, and who they leave behind.
kctony
The parent analogy is kind of inappropriate.

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