Hong Kong’s political future

26 August 2014 | Khaleej Times

The principle of ‘one country, two systems’ has come full circle.

These days Beijing is engrossed with the puzzle of how to handle Hong Kong, as universal suffrage demands pick momentum. The pro-democracy Occupy Central movement is out on the streets of the downtown calling for reforms and an electoral system that shouldn’t be censured by Chinese authorities. The issue is all about electing a new chief executive for the former British colony in 2017 through a popular vote. The fear that China will try to influence the outcome by screening candidates has stirred an unending debate. Activists want no restrictions on the nomination of candidates.

The final decision, per se, rests with the National People’s Congress, which is in session in Beijing. It is widely believed that the politburo will not budge from its stated positions and would like the candidates to be vetted before they stand for public office in Hong Kong. The Congress also wants the new chief executive to be a ‘patriot’ and must not oppose the Mainland government. With such ifs and buts at work, the plenary session of policy-makers in Beijing will not be in a position to scale down soaring tensions in its offshore territory. Things as they stand seem to be heading towards a showdown as hundreds and thousands of activists are camping on the streets to force the authorities to accept their demands.

If Beijing remains adamant on screening the candidates through a nominating committee, it will be end of the road for the hard-earned consensus that Hong Kongers had experienced since the historic transition. China has to take into consideration the fact that the world has changed for good, and it is no more the Tiananmen Square era where demonstrators can be crushed under the wheels of army tanks. China’s self-invented social media is more than enough to act as a bulwark against the dictates of communism.