March 23, 2005

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Pulling the pieces together

The SCMP reports the Hong Kong Government is going to ask the NPC to interpret the Basic Law on the Chief Executive's term to prevent chaos and a constitutional crisis. James Tien manages to contradict himself in a single breath: "On the face of it, Beijing has not yet indicated her preference, although I agree they want Donald Tsang to do the job." The Government is rushing through ammendments to make the new shortened Chief Executive's term legal. Beijing is making it clear the new CE can serve for up to 12 years despite the Basic Law saying otherwise. And some are saying there will come a time when we will miss Tung Che-hwa. Beijing has engineered the situation so they can look like they are reluctantly but happily helping Hong Kong through a difficult situation. Funny, because Beijing created the problem in the first place. Frank Ching pens an interesting op-ed piece in the SCMP. Some key excerpts:

It is clear that the Hong Kong government is unlikely to be much of a force for the preservation of this autonomy. The issue of the tenure of the chief executive to be elected in July reflects how the guardians of our vaunted legal system can collapse once Beijing applies a little pressure...The danger is that the Hong Kong government's view on legal issues may become increasingly irrelevant...There is little detectable will on the part of senior Hong Kong officials to stand up for the rights of the city and its people. Rather, the tendency seems to be to second-guess Beijing and do what it wants. is more realistic to hope that the mainland will be careful not to encroach too much on the city's autonomy. If Beijing does, the "one country, two systems" policy will not work, and the world will see the central government reneging on its promises. Moreover, there is still Taiwan, which Beijing hopes can be induced to rejoin the motherland using the Hong Kong model.

"One country, two systems", after all, was Beijing's brainchild and so it is really up to the central government to see that it works. And what is required more than anything else is the exercise of restraint. Such restraint was evident in the first years after the handover. It was less in evidence last year, when the central authorities decided to rule out universal suffrage for Hong Kong in the near future.

Hopefully, Beijing now realises that the job of the chief executive is first and foremost to serve the people of Hong Kong and not to do the bidding of the central government. If this is the thinking in Zhongnanhai, then there may be hope for Hong Kong's autonomy, after all.

There have been few signs of restraint lately. One of the purposes of the two year CE term is to keep Donald Tsang on a short leash and test his loyalty. It doesn't bode well. The "one country, two systems" principle has been seen as a potential solution to the question of the Taiwan issue. This assertion of Beijing's control over Hong Kong and the fuss over the anti-secession law are two sides of the same coin.

Taiwan is planning a million person protest on Saturday and is asking Hong Kong to join in sympathy with a similar march. The two situations are more similar than many think.

posted by Simon on 03.23.05 at 11:52 AM in the


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how many people will show up in hong kong?
if the issue is the hegemonic manner in which china introduced the anti-seccessionist manner, there may be a few dozen or even a few hundred.
if the issue is support of taiwan independence, then it would be emily lau and a few personal friends.

just kidding, of course.i only intend to highlight the fact that showing up does not mean that you are opposing anti-seccessionist law -- everyone will take it that you are supporting taiwan independence, which is actually a slap in your face considering the fact that the taiwanese independence advocate wants to think that they are non-chinese whereas the hong kong person has an essentially chinese identity (mainland or local).there is nothing to gain and everything to lose for any hong kong person to support chen shuibian's call.

posted by: eswn on 03.23.05 at 01:56 PM [permalink]

That's true. I don't seriously think anyone will turn up and march in Hong Kong. My point is that the situation with Taiwan and the situation with Hong Kong are now bearing similarities as China asserts itself.

So much for Hu the great reformer.

posted by: Simon on 03.23.05 at 02:02 PM [permalink]

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