Why China must treat separatists like Andy Chan with tolerance if it wants to be a global superpower
Beijing’s reactions around Hong Kong National Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin’s controversial comments advocating democracy/independence for Hong Kong could have been more measured and mature (“Chinese foreign ministry brands separatist Andy Chan deplorable”, August 21). Such strong responses only provide more fodder to critics of China in the United States and other countries to spread negativity about China and affect its public perception.
It is a fact that most Hongkongers treat their city as an integral part of China and have no interest in supporting any voices for independence. Recent by-election results confirm that.
Hence, it would be more prudent for Beijing to become the voice of tolerance as it tries to forge close relations with other countries. One thing that unites most of the developed regions in the world – be it the US, Europe, Australia or Japan – is their unequivocal support for the freedom of speech and expression of ideas.
As China tries to fill the leadership void created by the US, which seems to be in a retreat mode under President Donald Trump, Beijing needs to bring subtle changes to its behaviour and become more tolerant towards issues that are relatively minor and pose no direct threat to its unity.
This change in behaviour should see it reap long-term rewards in gaining broader acceptance of China as a global superpower which is both responsible and mature. Money alone is not going to accomplish this goal for China.
Arun Garg, Taikoo Shing