Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: CCP’s HK approach sends a warning

Beijing is known for playing the long game. Free of four-year election cycles and the constant need to be mindful of the electorate’s opinions, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders seem to think they can afford to wait it out. However, perhaps there is something Beijing could learn from Confucius (孔子) about winning the trust and cooperation of ordinary people through benevolent governance.

Many Taiwanese have been watching Hong Kong as a viable model of what to expect should the CCP ever succeed in its unjustified ambitions to annex Taiwan.

According to the latest Amnesty International Hong Kong annual report, which reviewed the human rights situation in Hong Kong over the past year, there is much cause for concern. It says the situation has continued to deteriorate since the UK handed the territory back to China in 1997. The report was critical of the Hong Kong government for failing to defend the rights of Hong Kongers and of officials for putting their own political gain ahead of human rights.

It cited media censorship and violence against journalists, the prosecutions of three 2014 Umbrella movement student leaders — Amnesty International Hong Kong director Mabel Au said the student leaders’ persecution “smacks of political payback by the authorities” — and the authorities’ apparent feet dragging over the five missing Hong Kong-based booksellers who eventually turned up in the custody of Chinese authorities.

Last year, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) made an unprecedented interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, barring — independently of the Hong Kong judiciary — two elected Hong Kong pro-independence politicians, Yau Wai-ching (游蕙禎) and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung (梁頌恆), from taking office after they pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” and displayed a banner saying “Hong Kong is not China” during a swearing-in ceremony for the Legislative Council.

This was Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal and political system since the handover and was a demonstration of how little respect the CCP has for due process, democracy and the freedom of expression.

Criticisms in the report were leveled at the Hong Kong authorities, but they are also a comment on the way Beijing leaders expect the territory to be run and how they are intervening when things are not to their liking.

Even though the former colony is supposed to be run according to a “one country, two systems” model, and despite former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s (鄧小平) assurances that things in Hong Kong would remain unchanged “for 50 years,” Chinese authorities, under the guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), are becoming increasingly intrusive and impatient with Hong Kongers wanting to ensure suffrage and a more inclusive democracy.

Xi and the CCP apparently believe that the correct approach to Hong Kong is to restrict democracy, curtail freedom of expression, suppress dissent and intervene in the first instance.

They disregard the idea of government of the people, for the people. Suppressing a proud people in this way is likely to exacerbate the desire for change, not dissipate it, but Beijing will not relent because it believes it is playing the long game. It will continue to grind down opposition until something breaks or until it has its way. It does not seem to have an interest in seeking out a system that Hong Kongers can find acceptable.

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