Special Report: The battle for Hong Kong’s soul

Greg Torode, James Pomfret & Benjamin Kang Lim | 30 June 2014 | Reuters

“The real cabinet is the shadow cabinet,” said one source close to Leung [HK’s puppet leader]. “The chief executive’s office can’t do without the Liaison Office’s help on certain matters.”

Before the 1997 handover, the Chinese Communist Party focused on courting businessmen, academics and activists to secure influence and loyalty. It has now become more assertive, attempting to isolate party enemies, silence critics, and deliver votes.

A legacy of the earliest days of Leninist communist revolutionary theory, the United Front Work Department’s mission is to influence and ultimately control a range of non-party groups, luring some into cooperation and isolating and denouncing others. “The tactics and techniques of the United Front have been refined and perfected over the decades and we are seeing a very modern articulation of it in Hong Kong.”

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Press Release: Nearly 800 thousand Hong Kong people voted against non-genuine universal suffrage

30.6.2014 | Press Release by Occupy Central with Love and Peace

*792,808 Hong Kong people had cast ballots in the Civil Referendum held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace from 20 to 29 June. It showed that Hong Kong citizens are not afraid of suppression and treasure their freedom of expression. We are very encouraged by the result and would like to express our gratitude to the citizens for their support to Occupy Central with Love and Peace and their trust in the online voting portal established by the Public Opinion Programme of The University of Hong Kong (POP) and Centre for Social Policy Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (CSPS). Continue reading

So-called referendum deceptive and dangerous

Song Sio-Chong | 25 June 2014 | China Daily

The “Occupy Central” campaign supporters have asked the Hong Kong public to select from three proposals, each of which includes an element of civil nomination for the Chief Executive in the 2017 election. This is a deceptive tactic – undemocratically decided upon – by the civil disobedience movement. They also plan to lead a massive occupation of Central to paralyze the financial heart of the city. The organizers believe this will make the central government bend to local pressure.

They must be dreaming if they think the central government, which has made the “One Country Two Systems” policy such a success, will give in to an unlawful movement. The One Country, Two Systems policy and the arrangements for universal suffrage outlined in the Basic Law are legitimate and justified. So any movement opposing them has to be illegitimate and unjustified.

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State Department Daily Press Briefing

25 June 2014 | State Department Daily Press Briefing

HARF: On Hong Kong?

QUESTION: On Hong Kong, yeah. Could you just —

HARF: Yes. Let me see what I have. Okay. So you asked a couple, and let me see if I answer them. And if I don’t, please follow up. That we, in terms of elections, support Hong Kong’s well-established traditions and basic law protections of internationally recognized fundamental freedoms, such as, of course, freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. The details of the election process for the chief executive in 2017 have yet to be worked out, is my understanding. But we do believe that the legitimacy of the chief executive will be greatly enhanced if the promise of universal suffrage is fulfilled and if the election provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates representative of the voters’ will.

So I know there’s still some details that need to be worked out, but in general, that’s still our position. Of course, our longstanding policy – and I think this was part of your first question yesterday – is supportive of the principle of one country, two systems, and the high degree of autonomy maintained by the basic law, that that, of course, has not changed, and I think that – maybe that answered all of your questions.

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The Waning Beijing Consensus

Joseph Sternberg | 25 June 2014 | Wall Street Journal

In Hong Kong, political leaders are telling businesses to worry about local citizens’ demands for greater democracy. In Thailand, in contrast, there are signs that businesses are starting to wish they had democracy back after a military coup unseated an elected government last month. Meanwhile, businesses in Japan and India have some reason to cheer cautiously as voters have brought to office politicians of more or less reformist stripes.

These are interesting days for those who remember the time not so long ago when there was a “Beijing consensus” that authoritarian political leadership produced better economic results. In that era, the unelected kleptocrats in China delivered consistently high growth figures while the softer technocrats of Hong Kong maintained stability and positive nonintervention. Democracies produced either populism (Thailand) or paralysis (India and Japan).

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Hong Kong will always be part of China

Eric Sommer | 25 June 2014 | China Daily

A large number of Hong Kong residents are taking part in an informal – mainly Internet-based – poll to “determine” whether they want to have a more direct say in nominating candidates for the post of Hong Kong’s “chief executive” in future elections. More than 700,000 Hong Kong residents had voted until the third day of the 10-day “referendum” organized by “Occupy Central” forces.

The central government agrees to universal suffrage in future Hong Kong elections, but has denounced the poll as “illegal” and “invalid”, and emphasized that “the high degree of autonomy of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power … the Hong Kong people who govern Hong Kong should above all be patriotic.”

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Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations are no farce

David Pilling | 25 June 2014 | Financial Times

Ever since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 by British colonisers, an unresolved question has hung like smog over the city. Would it eventually be able to elect its representatives?

Hong Kong’s “mini-constitution” states the ultimate aim is for the city to choose its leadership by universal suffrage, not a bad concession given its decidedly undemocratic history under British rule. Beijing subsequently agreed in principle to the idea that Hong Kong’s mayor, known as the chief executive, could be popularly elected in 2017, and its Legislative Council in 2020. Yet what Beijing means by “universal suffrage” and what democracy advocates in Hong Kong mean by it are – surprise, surprise – not the same thing. The gap in interpretation threatens to put Beijing and Hong Kong on a dangerous collision course.


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Beijing’s Catch-22

Mark C. Eades | 25 June 2014 | Financial Times

A 10-day unofficial pro-democracy referendum opened in Hong Kong on June 20, attracting higher-than-expected turnout and angering China’s central government in Beijing. Organized by pro-democracy group Occupy Central, the referendum offers voters a choice of three reform plans for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive, all of which include public nomination of candidates, an idea rejected by Beijing. Despite massive cyberattacks blamed on mainland China, more than 700,000 online and in-person voters cast ballots in the first three days of voting.

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Beijing Growls at Hong Kong

25 June 2014 | New York Times

For the first time since the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing has unambiguously asserted its complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

A recent government paper reminded Hong Kong that whatever autonomy it has flows from the Chinese government and that the doctrine of “one country, two systems” implied in the original agreement allows Hong Kong to retain its capitalist system but does not confer political independence.

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Activists Predict Biggest Hong Kong Protest in 10 Years

25 June 2014 | NDTV

HONG KONG:  Activists said on Wednesday they expect more than half a million people to take to the streets on Hong Kong’s annual protest day as fears grow over China’s increasing influence on the city.

The predictions for the largest July 1 protest for more than 10 years came after 740,000 people voted in an unofficial poll organised by pro-democracy activists.

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