In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) eagerly promoted the “reunification” of Taiwan at the 40th anniversary of the publication of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.”
He mentioned principles and policies including the so-called “1992 consensus” being equal to unity, the “one country, two systems” formula for Taiwan and unity through the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), while promising not to use force to unify Taiwan and so on.
On Oct. 1, he mentioned these policies again.
Such a declaration without including freedom, democracy and universal values is nothing more than a sweet speech with honeyed words, an iron hand in a velvet glove. It is another scam to lure Taiwanese.
The reunification of Hong Kong with China in 1997 was a sinister scam.
In the beginning, to stabilize Hong Kong and ensure a safe transition, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) established the Sino-British Joint Declaration with the British Government in December 1984 and finalized the Hong Kong Basic Law in accordance with Article 12 of the declaration.
It also committed itself to the “one country, two systems” formula, a high degree of autonomy for the territory, and allowing Hong Kongers to rule the territory and develop a capitalist system for 50 years.
In the eyes of Hong Kong people, given that the CCP gave such a solemn promise, it was hard not to trust its sincerity. As a result, democrats began to advocate the “reunification of democracy,” believing that the party would abide by its promises and give Hong Kong a democratic capitalist system, including the separation of powers, district councils, the Hong Kong Legislative Council and universal suffrage for the territory’s leader or chief executive.
At the time, I thought we had already arrived at a modern period of science and technology, so there was no way the CCP could return to Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) era of lawlessness. Thus, I believed in the CCP’s commitment and believed in the return of democracy.
However, I was wrong. I was angry when I found out that the CCP did not plan to officially acknowledge the underground party in Hong Kong after reunification. It could be concluded that this so-called reunification was a scam.
The following is an excerpt from my book: My Time in Hong Kong’s Underground Communist Party (我與香港地下黨).
“If the [CCP] still operates underground in Hong Kong, then one country, two systems is a scam. This is the truth of the so-called Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” (June 1997).
“The [CCP] decided not to make public the underground party and mislead Hong Kong people’s understanding of real Hong Kong reunification, and the essence of it is to return the leadership to Hong Kong’s underground party. The two countries and two systems exist in name only. It is not really Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. The so-called ‘one country, two systems’ is only a scam” (August 2003).
“Why doesn’t the [CCP] make public the underground party? Under the basic law, they can’t openly rule Hong Kong. Only by keeping underground parties lurking in all corners of Hong Kong can they slowly control Hong Kong. From start to present, the CCP has never intended to let Hong Kong develop a capitalist system for 50 years and remain unchanged. As long as the underground party is still operating sneakily, Hong Kong doesn’t have a real ‘one country, two systems,’ and the high degree of autonomy is another big scam” (2009).
At the beginning of reunification, then-Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee chairman Wu Bangguo (吳邦國) put forward the “power theory,” stating that “the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong is granted by the central government. The Hong Kong SAR [Special Administrative Region] only enjoys rights that are granted by the central government.”
He also quoted Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), who said Hong Kong’s system could not be completely Westernized and that it is impossible to directly copy and paste Western rule.
For example, it is not appropriate to implement separation of the three powers, or to have a British-American parliamentary system to deem a place to be democratic. Power theories fully explain the CCP’s plans and determination to violate the Basic Law, seize Hong Kong’s governance power and transform Hong Kong’s capitalist society.
The standing committee made a landmark judgement in December 2007 to deny genuine universal suffrage regarding the election of the chief executive and all members of the Legislative Council in 2012. However, the leader of Hong Kong could be directly elected in 2017.
I reluctantly believed that there was still hope because of the timetable, but I once again got it wrong.
Then-Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) began to promote himself, hinting that the CCP planned to allow an underground party member to serve as the next chief executive in 2012.
The 2017 universal suffrage timetable was no more than a palliative.
In June 2014, the Chinese State Council issued a white paper on the implementation of Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula.
It showed that the central government had full governance over Hong Kong.
The territory’s high degree of autonomy is not completely self-governing, nor is it a decentralization. Its authority is granted entirely by the central government. “One country” means that within the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong is an inseparable part of the nation and a local administrative region directly under the Central People’s Government.
On Aug. 31, 2014, the standing committee decided on the framework for the election of Hong Kong’s leader in 2017, imposing conditions that critics said were undemocratic.
The 831 decision triggered the massive pro-democracy “Umbrella movement” protests later that year.
In 2017, Xi talked about Hong Kong at the 19th National Congress of the CCP and said that the central government must firmly grasp the comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong and Macau based on the Constitution and the Basic Law.
Thus, the Sino-British Joint Declaration was effectively nullified and “one country, two systems” was left to exist in name only. Twenty years after Hong Kong’s reunification, CCP leaders came to such a formal conclusion.
However, Hong Kongers are fighting back. This year’s protests are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill by the Hong Kong government.
Why do Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers and Westerners always believe in the CCP’s promises only to be deceived?
I believe there are three reasons:
First, because we live in a place where the honor system is based on trust; we have a habitual respect for contracts and treaties, just like our credit cards or mortgages. Everyone instinctively abides by the terms laid down and believes that others will abide by them. People do not believe that a big country, a nation’s dignity, and an international document will be defaulted.
If someone breaks a contract, it must be justified and they must pay the price.
Second, many people are influenced by innate patriotism and are always hampered by a strong desire to contribute to their country. Blind patriotism prevents all rational thinking.
People do not know that this lofty patriotism cannot be used in present-day China, because everything in China, including the mountains and rivers, people and institutions, have all been robbed by the CCP.
The mountains and rivers have changed color, and people’s ideological personality has dissipated. Loving China now equals loving the one-party dictatorship of the CCP. These two things cannot be separated, so China cannot be loved now.
The third and most important reason is that people fail to understand the nature and behavioral patterns of the CCP.
Understanding the beautiful words of the CCP as a solemn promise is a big misunderstanding. This is not a commitment to the people.
The commitments promised in the past and the present are not real; they are a strategy. The CCP has never known the concept of “commitment” and “upholding a promise.” It only knows about policies and strategies. Its beautiful promises are the product of policy.
Regarding the present situation, it is the CCP’s tradition to develop strategies and slogans to confuse people.
Therefore, when it evokes the beautiful words of the past and flexibly changes its strategies at any time, party members do not have any sense of sorrow or shame, perhaps because they think that it is just a change of strategy.
If we use a moral point of view to criticize the CCP for not keeping its promises and ask party members to keep their ethical promises, they are likely to be indifferent. They believe that they are implementing a policy, not a commitment.
Even strong criticism has no effect at all, and cannot touch the essence of the CCP. Strictly speaking, the CCP is not lying or disobeying — it is a utilitarian party established to seize political power.
In an article, Chinese writer Xin Ziling (辛子陵) quotes Mao’s speech “Mao Zedong’s Party-State System and Playing with the Constitution.”
After the drafting of the first constitution of the People’s Republic of China, Mao made a speech at a central government meeting:
“We now have many comrades who are superstitious about the constitution, thinking that the constitution is a panacea for the rule of the country, and attempts to place the party under constitutional constraints. I never believe in the law, and I don’t believe in the constitution either. I just want to break this kind of constitutional superstition. Our great, glorious and correct party has never advocated the constitution,” he said.
“However, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, considering that most foreign countries have enacted a constitution and that Chinese intellectuals have not completely become the party’s tools, it is necessary to formulate a constitution to transform and educate the people and consolidate the party’s leadership,” Mao said. “Formulating the constitution essentially means denying the leadership of the party and is extremely harmful in politics.”
“Of course, the constitution is formulated, but it depends on the party whether it will be implemented, and to what extent it will be implemented,” he said.
“Only fools and counter-revolutionaries will be able to break the party’s leadership and implement the constitution,” Mao said.
Florence Mo Han Aw is a writer based in Canada.
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