November 08, 2005

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Hardtalking Donald Tsang

Clearly The Don is enjoying his overseas jaunt. According to the SCMP, he's just revealed the major barrier to universal suffrage in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong has to convince Beijing that universal suffrage would not bring a "foreign" element to the city, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen says. Speaking in an interview with Stephen Sackur on BBC World's programme Hardtalk, Mr Tsang spelled out the key condition for achieving full democracy.

Asked if he believed Beijing wanted Hong Kong to move quickly to universal suffrage, Mr Tsang said: "I believe this is something [about which] they will need to be persuaded. As soon as we are able to demonstrate that Hong Kong will not splinter off into some foreign element with the nation as a whole, I think we will be there."

That shouldn't be too hard to do? Unless "foreign elements" means democrats, in which case we have a perfect example of circular logic. Below the jump are the relevant parts of the Basic Law. No foreign elements there. Bring on universal suffrage!

The absurdities keep coming too. Last week it was those unruly British soldiers as compared to the angelic PLA garrison we have now (mind you, the PLA are restricted to barracks and couldn't afford the cab fare to Wanchai if they were released, but nevermind):

...he told the BBC the city had had no elections in 140 years of colonial rule. "We started rather late in the day. Look at the progress we have made in eight years."
Hong Kong also didn't have electricity 140 years ago, but look at the progress we've made since then.

Most revealingly, The Don plants himself firmly on the fence when it comes to telling us who he represents:

As chief executive, I am responsible to the people of Hong Kong. I also have a responsibility to [Beijing]."
The question remains to whom is he more responsible: the seven million people of Hong Kong or the seventy cadres in Beijing?

Article 44 of the Basic Law

The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a Chinese citizen of not less than 40 years of age who is a permanent resident of the Region with no right of abode in any foreign country and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 20 years.

Article 45 of the Basic Law

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.

The method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.

Article 67 of the Basic Law

The Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be composed of Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the Region with no right of abode in any foreign country. However, permanent residents of the Region who are not of Chinese nationality or who have the right of abode in foreign countries may also be elected members of the Legislative Council of the Region, provided that the proportion of such members does not exceed 20 percent of the total membership of the Council.

Anyone see any foreign elements?

posted by Simon on 11.08.05 at 08:48 AM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


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Hard Talking Darth Bowtie
Excerpt: Following up on Simon's post, let me direct non-SCMP subscribers to the BBC site for a summary of the program. First, let me comment that I think the "foreign element" is a bit of code as Martin Lee Chu-ming heads to Washington, DC in the wake of Darth B
Weblog: Daai Tou Laam Diary
Tracked: November 8, 2005 01:45 PM


Yes Simon, and it also totally ignores the compadres across the Straits that have gone Democratic with a big 'D'. Are they foreign? If they are, does that not imply they are a sovereign state?:)

I am being facetious of course, but really there is nothing alien about Chinese culture and democracy. Culture changes - just look at Max Weber's characterization of Confucian cultures as being mired in imperial despotism. Things move on, and democracy is a system, not a cultural import.

posted by: HK Dave on 11.08.05 at 11:12 AM [permalink]

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