Frank Ching
Frank Ching
Frank Ching opened The Wall Street Journal’s bureau in Beijing in 1979 when the U.S. and China established diplomatic relations. Before that, he was with The New York Times in New York for 10 years. After Beijing, he wrote the book Ancestors and later joined the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Over the years Beijing has become more hands-on in Hong Kong’s governance, and while the city has not won the democracy it sought, its freedoms must remain intact. Hong Kong’s new chief executive needs to build confidence with action, not words.


Regardless of how great a thinker Mao was, his position in history has already been set by the party. Today, China is an emerging superpower under Xi. As the Communist Party ushers in its second centenary amid China’s continuing rise, leadership will be key.


The official refusal to clarify no-go reporting areas under the national security law and the police redefinition of media under new and expanded powers sow confusion and exclusion.


The pressure exerted on prominent businesspeople and companies to toe the line and the new law’s omission of two rights guaranteed by the Basic Law make it clear that Hong Kong’s journey towards resembling the mainland is well under way.


Hong Kong democrats still think in terms of opposition and resistance after 23 years in the minority, something the government has fostered by not sharing power. If they do win a majority, they should provide policy alternatives that would improve the social and economic welfare of the people, not just pick fights.


Trump’s announcement of US action following China’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong will have little impact on the city. Rather, it reflects deteriorating Sino-US relations.


The Chinese leader believed his party could not have come to power if the Japanese had not invaded. Hong Kong’s education secretary, in framing the issue about the DSE exam question as one of political correctness, is missing the point.


It is hard for the authorities to meet anti-extradition protesters’ demand for democracy, but there must be a public accounting of the saga. Hong Kong faces its biggest crisis in 22 years, but no official has assumed responsibility.

With the end of the year approaching, foreign correspondents in Beijing again have to seek an extension of their journalists' visa. Some American reporters are by no means certain they will be renewed.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference has been in the news because of the expulsion of Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun from its ranks. It is often referred to as China's top advisory body.

Proverbs reflect the wisdom of a people, as passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes they can be traced to an individual who is not as well known as the words he or she coined.

Even if student activists don't get Beijing to withdraw its decision on universal suffrage, they have already done a remarkable thing by putting Hong Kong back on the map.

For well over a decade, Hong Kong society has been torn by the lure of democracy or, as the Basic Law puts it, universal suffrage. The August 31 decision by the NPC is likely to indefinitely prolong dissension within the community.

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, in his press conference last week, surprisingly acknowledged there is a problem with Hong Kong’s political system – one constructed according to the Basic Law.

In traditional China, aggrieved people from around the country could seek justice by travelling to the capital and lodging a petition. In today's China, the system continues, with the State Bureau for Letters and Calls being responsible for dealing with petitioners.

The controversy over whether pan-democrats are patriotic and hence qualified to become candidates in the chief executive election in 2017 turns on different definitions of patriotism.

At long last, a Chinese leader has acknowledged the Basic Law's stipulation that the method of selecting the chief executive shall be specified "in the light of the actual situation" in Hong Kong.

The latest British six-monthly report on Hong Kong was released at a sensitive time. It came weeks after China's white paper on "one country, two systems" and on the same day as the disclosure that reports on electoral reform were to be made public this week.

Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA", Premier Li Keqiang declared during his visit to Britain, apparently in an attempt to allay fears driven by China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, "nor can we accept the logic that a strong country is bound to become hegemonic."

In the late 1970s, Britain presented China with a problem: what to do about Hong Kong since the British lease on the New Territories, which accounted for more than 90 per cent of the colony, would expire in 1997.

Twenty-five years ago, the world was shocked. Tanks rumbled through the streets of Beijing and shots were fired at students and other civilians who had gathered to protest against inflation and corruption. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

An increasingly assertive China, simultaneously confronting several of its neighbours in East Asia, is turning to an unlikely source for support: Taiwan.

Media attention during Barack Obama's four-nation Asian trip focused, understandably perhaps, on the three countries that are US allies - Japan, South Korea and the Philippines - and, in particular, on developments with military significance.

In a referendum in which Moscow was visibly pulling the strings, Crimea last month voted to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia, thus returning to a state of affairs that had persisted, on and off, since the 18th century.

Over the years, as China has turned into the world's second-largest economy and largest trading nation, it has often been reluctant to assume the responsibilities of a great power, preferring to focus on its own development.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's belated affirmation of Japan's apologies to former "comfort women" and to victims of Japanese aggression in the second world war has halted the precipitous decline in bilateral relations between Tokyo and Seoul and improved the atmosphere of Japan's relations with the US. It should also ameliorate the country's relations with China.

On International Women's Day, on Saturday, the International New York Times carried an editorial that quoted Pope Francis as saying that "women must have a greater presence in the decision-making areas of the church".

It's hard to believe that the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which was meant to "ensure lasting stability and prosperity for Hong Kong", was signed almost 30 years ago. It is difficult for people not here then to imagine the tumult in Hong Kong between Margaret Thatcher's visit to Beijing in 1982 and the initialling of the Joint Declaration two years later. The colony went through a series of crises, which saw the currency in free fall and the stock market drop and recover only to drop again.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has said that the people of Hong Kong should accept an "imperfect" system for the first chief executive election by universal suffrage because it can be improved after 2017.

With the five-month public consultation on political reform only in its second month, there is a serious danger that, instead of resolving problems over universal suffrage elections for the chief executive, it will lead Hong Kong into a political dead end from which it will be almost impossible to emerge.

" Let's talk and achieve universal suffrage," says the English version of the consultation document for Hong Kong's political reform. The Chinese version says yau seung yau leung, promising room for negotiation. However, the language and tone adopted by mainland officials in Hong Kong suggest just the opposite.

The public consultation on political reform is in some ways reminiscent of an exercise launched by the British colonial government in 1987 on whether there should be direct elections in 1988.

The visit to Hong Kong by Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, left many questions unanswered as to how universal suffrage elections for the chief executive are to be held in 2017.

There are signs that the central government is increasingly anxious about developments in Hong Kong. The meeting between a leader of the Occupy Central campaign and Shih Ming-teh, the former chairman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, touched a raw nerve in Beijing, and the state-run newspaper Global Times has warned that Hong Kong's opposition is in danger of turning itself into an "enemy of the state".

After five years during which he insisted on dealing only with economic issues with the mainland, Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, is signalling that he is now willing to move towards the next level - a move fraught with grave implications for the island's future.

This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced on Friday. Interest has been fuelled by the nomination of Russian President Vladimir Putin for his proposal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, forestalling a missile strike threatened by US President Barack Obama.

British Minister of State for Asia Hugo Swire set off a firestorm with his article voicing support for universal suffrage. On one level, it does seem hypocritical for a British official to say that "Britain stands ready to support" Hong Kong's move towards universal suffrage when, in fact, Britain obstructed democratic development when Hong Kong was its colony.

It is inappropriate for a foreign consul general in Hong Kong to make irresponsible and unwarranted remarks on such internal affairs of China." So said the foreign ministry's commission in Hong Kong. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

When Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Patten, tried to negotiate an agreement on electoral arrangements with Beijing two decades ago, he came upon a revelation. "The Chinese style is not to rig elections," Patten said he was told by a veteran colonial official. "But they do like to know the result before they're held."

Tensions are palpably rising in Hong Kong, with simultaneous pro- and anti-Falun Gong protests, pro- and anti-establishment rallies, the emergence of the Silent Majority group to oppose Occupy Central, and the political targeting of police by protesters.

Similar to American mail carriers, who are deterred by "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night", the British Foreign Office labours to produce a report on Hong Kong every six months, as it just has once again.

The chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, Qiao Xiaoyang , ignited a firestorm when he said the Hong Kong chief executive must be patriotic. On the positive side, he sparked discussion on the 2017 election even before a public consultation has begun.

Sixteen years after the handover, China's running of the former British colony is undergoing its most severe challenge in at least a decade, with public confidence in the policy of "one country, two systems" dropping to the lowest level since before 1997, according to surveys conducted by the University of Hong Kong.