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Carrie Lam takes her oath as Hong Kong chief executive before visiting President Xi Jinping, on the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover on July 1, 2017. Photo: Reuters

LettersOn democracy, Hong Kong can’t have its cake and eat it too

  • Why a Western-style chief executive election would be a mistake for Hong Kong
Michael Du in Toronto says: “If democracy is only allowed when it’s in alignment with a particular viewpoint, it isn’t democracy at all (“ City’s universal suffrage desire not impractical”, December 22)”.

For the purpose of “selecting” the Hong Kong chief executive, Mr Du should consider also the fact that this office has a much higher degree of authority, through which Hong Kong derives the high degree of autonomy, than that of the mayor of Toronto or, for that matter, heads of municipal governments in other countries.

Such a high degree of authority is not the result of a local democratic mandate, but of the authorisation by the central people’s government through the decision to appoint the chief executive. Hence, the provision under Article 45 of the Basic Law, which Mr Du mentioned but did not quote: “The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People’s Government.”

It has been clear since the days of drafting the Basic Law in the late 1980s that the selection of the chief executive is not purely a local Hong Kong matter.

Hong Kong is not a sovereign country like Canada, and the Hong Kong chief executive is not a Toronto mayor.

We could either follow the Basic Law or opt for Toronto-style democracy and end up with a Toronto-like degree of autonomy, meaning yielding up to Beijing the high degree of autonomy that we now enjoy.

We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

C.Y. Leung, vice-chairman, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; former chief executive, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China

Don’t be fooled by the world’s most dangerous con man

America used to be famous for its travelling circuses, like the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey. Sadly enough, the whole nation seems to have recently transformed itself into a gigantic circus, as political polarisation, impeachment and the assassination of foreign generals seemingly become the order of the day.

The ringmaster of this circus is Mr Donald Trump, the president of the United States: also, the world’s most dangerous clown and con man.

In order to reshuffle the deck after being dealt a bad hand in domestic politics, he resorts to the assassination of a perceived enemy. A manoeuvre like this would have been more understandable during medieval times. Macbeth did it, so did the Borgia clan. In today’s world, only one living person could benefit from such an act, namely, Mr Trump himself.

So, my advice to flag-waving Hong Kong demonstrators would be: be a little more careful about your choice of friends. Do not, for a moment, believe that you are important to Mr Trump. You are just a pawn in his chess game with China.

Or would you really like to become the 51st star on the American flag?

Bernt Eriksson, Malmö, Sweden

Hong Kong protesters need to get real about the US

Chris Ma deplores the protesters waving American flags. They “should be ashamed of themselves”, he says (“ Rioters waving US flags need a history lesson”, December 14). Ma also gives some history about the US’ hostile policy against China and Chinese as reasons. I agree, and would like to add to that history.

We all know about Britain deliberately getting the Chinese addicted to opium and starting the opium wars when China resisted. As a result, Hong Kong was forcibly taken by Britain (and yet the protesters also fly the Union flag).

Less well known is that the United States was an enthusiastic supporter of the opium trade, as described by Karl E. Meyer in The Opium War’s Secret History.

A “24-year-old Yankee”, Warren Delano, arrived in Canton in 1823 to work for Russell & Company, America’s largest trading house in China. Delano made his money through the alchemy of the opium trade, “black dirt” from India turned to silver by Chinese addicts.

Meyer, in The New York Times of June 28, 1997, reports: “Warren Delano returned to America rich, and in 1851 settled in Newburgh, N.Y. There he eventually gave his daughter Sara in marriage to a well-born neighbour, James Roosevelt, the father of Franklin Roosevelt.”

That is the very same Franklin Delano Roosevelt who became the 32nd president of the United States.

This is history. History that led to China’s “century of humiliation”.

The Hong Kong protesters wave the American flag, ignorant of this part of history and in the deluded belief that America will come to their aid should things turn nasty.

I join Chris Ma in saying “shame on them”. And I add: “Get real.”

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay