Pan-dems are hurting the city they say they love

  • If you argue Hong Kong is in danger of losing its autonomy, then there is little reason for Washington – and others - to keep the city and the mainland separate in terms of customs and trade treatment
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 8:22pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 9:59pm

Pan-democrats appeal for foreign forces to interfere in Hong Kong affairs at the drop of a hat. Now they are reaping what they have sown. Alas, it’s too late to change their tune.

Opposition luminaries are busy flying to Europe and the United States to convince Western politicians that Hong Kong deserves to remain a separate customs entity from the rest of China and enjoy all the preferential trade and economic treatments that come with that separate status.

Last month, for example, former pan-democrat lawmakers Alan Leong Kah-kit and Martin Lee Chu-ming visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg to press their case for Hong Kong. Leong, a former chief executive candidate, told some European politicians that Hong Kong is an independent customs area and a founding member of the World Trade Organisation. It is a dependable trading partner, he said, because its customs status protects it from the fallouts of the Sino-US trade war.

He sounded exactly like what a bureaucrat from the Hong Kong government would say. But then, Leong and Lee – long a darling of Washington – couldn’t help themselves. They said Beijing has not kept its promise for democracy in Hong Kong and that the city’s freedoms are being eroded. They urged European lawmakers to monitor the political situation in Hong Kong closely.

The problem is, if you argue Hong Kong is in danger of losing its autonomy, then there is little reason for Washington – and others – to keep the city and the mainland separate in terms of customs and trade treatment.

How Hong Kong can convince the US to maintain its special status

This point was raised by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan panel of specialists appointed by the US Congress, in its annual report where it floats the idea of reversing the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act. That has caused much misgiving in Hong Kong government and business circles. After all, the US is the city’s second-biggest trading partner.

Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, the lawmaker and Leong’s Civic Party comrade, is flying to the US, apparently to argue for the need to keep the policy act in place. But such pan-democrats have created an intractable problem for themselves while hurting the city they say they love.

In claiming that “one country, two systems” is being undermined, they have provided all the ammunition anti-China hawks and cynical Western politicians need to exploit Hong Kong as a pawn in the continuing trade war.