April 27, 2004

You are on the invidual archive page of The end of the beginning. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
The end of the beginning

China firmly shut the door on any prospect of universal sufferage. In an apt demonstration of Beijing expects things to be, the decision was announced to a packed house of some 900 invited guests, mostly senior business leaders, academics, pro-Beijing politicians and journalists. There were some prize quotes, which speak for themselves:

``Universal suffrage is not a free lunch. Everybody has to pay a price,'' Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee, said during a 45-minute speech. "Those who dare to say that there cannot be universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008 due to Hong Kong's actual situation and long-term interest, are truly courageous and willing to bear responsibility. They truly care for Hong Kong and its people."...

Qiao [Xiaoyang, deputy secretary-general of the NPC] criticised unnamed Hong Kong people for not fully understanding the one-country, two-systems framework and the Basic Law. ``Almost every day [since the handover], the Basic Law has been questioned, distorted and abused. This is an indisputable fact.'' A rush to democracy, he said, could prove harmful to the nation and lead to negative consequences. ``How can we be sure that there will be no damage to national sovereignty?'' he asked.

Despite the fact that Qiao represents the ruling elite of a communist nation, a key defence of the NPC's actions was to be found in the need to maintain the current system of functional constituencies in Legco, largely in order to protect Hong Kong's capitalists.

Calling Hong Kong a ``mature capitalist city'', Qiao cited Marxist doctrine in saying that the ``means of production'' must remain in private hands and that it was vital to ``protect the business sector's interests'' from being eroded by democracy which could cause Hong Kong to ``lose competitiveness''...

He acknowledged that there were many in Hong Kong who favoured universal suffrage but he said that following popular opinion was not a wise idea. ``A government led by the nose by opinion polls'' will fail, he cautioned.

It's hard to fisk something that is so stupid. What is ironic and amusing is a communist declaring the need to avoid democracy to defend capitalism. Let's set aside the obvious counter-examples of USA, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. It seems the Communist Party has become the party of the businessman. Another irony is the accusation of Hong Kong's political immaturity. I've met many Hong Kongers and they are exactly the same as people in other countries: they have rational opinions. Indeed the more immature politicians tend to be the toadies from the Beijing apologist or business interest parties, with their constant paternalistism and condesention. Most ironic is the distortion of the Basic Law by the NPC and Beijing themselves. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

I still maintain Beijing have solved very little by doing this. They'd be far better off to give a little and relieve the pressure. The key test will be the turnout for the July 1st march and Beijing's response to it. They may respond the only way they know how. It is the end of the beginning.

posted by Simon on 04.27.04 at 10:03 AM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Send a manual trackback ping to this post.


I've written a personal review of a book, Hong Kong in Chinese History, that has done the best job so far of tracking the historical alliance between the business interests and "collaborationist patriotism" in early Hong Kong.

Philip Snow's The Fall of Hong Kong discusses the flip flops that the business community did during the Japanese occupation during WW2.

Given that history it's little wonder that come 1997, the business community (The Liberal Party and Hemlock's favorite James Tien shirt) would do a flip flop and suck up to the CCP.

The real interesting thing historically though is the failure of the classic Communist United Front. Labour in Hong Kong has never fallen for the unions that are led by the DAB (Ma Lik and 1960s civil destabiliser Tsang Yok Sing). I think that once labour happily follows these pied pipers instead of labour activist Szeto Wah, you'll see the CCP grant Hong Kong universal suffrage.

Of course hell will freeze over first, so the question becomes who's up for buying Conrad a Che Guevara shirt for June 4?

posted by: Tom on 04.27.04 at 01:29 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?