From Sunday, September 21 to Tuesday, September 22, former Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, himself a tycoon, leads over 70 members of the Hong Kong business elite in attending a seminar on Hong Kong ‘political reform’, a meeting with President Xi Jinping and a dinner with National People’s Congress Standing Committee head Zhang Dejiang in Beijing.
This is only the second time since the 1997 handover that such a delegation of Hong Kong business elites have visited Beijing, called by Chinese Communist Party members to discuss ‘political reform’. The first time was in 2003, after the July 1 march of more than 500,000 people against Article 23 security legislation that the CCP and the Hong Kong government were trying to introduce in Hong Kong. As a result of that march, the Article 23 legislation failed and Tung Chee-hwa, Chief Executive at the time, was eventually forced to resign. Both visits of business elites, in 2003 and 2014, have come at moments of what the CCP regards as political crisis in Hong Kong and have been meant to shore up support by Hong Kong business elites for CCP policy in Hong Kong.
By many people in Hong Kong, the people on this list are regarded as amongst those most opposed to genuine universal suffrage. The business elites perceive equal political rights as threatening their business interests. Hong Kong is currently run as a kind of plutocracy, with the Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong business elites monopolizing all real political power.
As former Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Tung-chee Hwa, himself a tycoon, is about to lead a delegation of more than 40 Hong Kong tycoons to Beijing on Monday to engage in talks with Xi Jinping and other Communist Party officials, it’s important to recall that the most powerful political institutions in both Hong Kong and the mainland are stacked with the wealthiest people. They are not elected but appointed.
In my last piece, I compared the Hong Kong democracy movement to other nonviolent freedom struggles, focusing on three ultimately successful ones, the Indian independence struggle, the US civil rights movement, and the eastern European fight against Communist dictatorship. While these movements are today regarded retrospectively as successes, we noted that what they have in common is that 1) they took decades to accomplish their aims and 2) they required a deus ex machina beyond their control as a catalyst for realization of their aims (respectively, World War II, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Gorbachev). The conclusion drawn from the comparison is that freedom struggles are often long, hard and uncertain, and rarely are freedom struggles powerful enough in themselves to accomplish their aims; they usually need other forces to align with their interests. Those struggling for freedom must persevere even when the outcome appears highly uncertain and distant. They must continue to exist until the opportune moment.
Today I look at some ‘failed’ freedom struggles, namely China ‘89, Iran ’77-‘79, Burma ’88-’90, and Egypt ’11-present. Note that all four of those countries are still ruled by authoritarian regimes.
Liu Xiaoming’s attack in the Telegraph.
Hong Kong has not, as Lord Patten appears to believe, been bequeathed democracy by Britain. For more than a century and a half, Britain had total responsibility for the territory – and did nothing to encourage or produce democracy. It is therefore the rankest hypocrisy of people such as Lord Patten to criticise China for any perceived failings to introduce democracy.
— Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK
1. Since Liu Xiaoming is so interested in history & ‘rankest hypocrisy’, we’ll take up the matter ourselves in the following tweets.
Part 2 is available.
In his “Hong Kong’s Power of the Powerless: Hong Kong’s Last Stand”, Kong Tsung-gan looked at the Indian independence struggle and the US civil rights movement in some detail. He found that both had advantages that the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement lacks:
Gandhi and Indians knew it was just a matter of time. They could outwait the Brits. At the end of the day, there were just so many more Indians than British administrators and resources that if the Indians refused to cooperate, British rule was unsustainable. The Indians had superior numbers on their side. Hong Kong obviously doesn’t. There are 7 million Hong Kong people, and 1 billion mainlanders (or, maybe more to the point, 86 million Chinese Communist Party members). These days, Hong Kong people feel almost inundated by the number of mainland visitors. The number of mainland immigrants per year is about 54,000. One cannot help but think that part of the CCP’s end game for Hong Kong involves the mainlandization of Hong Kong’s population, much as in Tibet and Xinjiang, a process very different from the type of immigration from the mainland to Hong Kong that occurred in the mid-twentieth century.
Our friend the accountant is, typical of a certain sort of Hong Kong person, generally apolitical. Whatever else you might say about him, he certainly isn’t a rabble-rouser. But that was his sympathetic comment about Occupy Central: “When you’re pushed around, what else can you do?” To him, Occupy Central is a logical response to bullying: Either you back down and comply with the bully’s wishes, or you stand up to the bully- there isn’t much middle ground. In a nutshell, that is the dilemma Hong Kong faces at the moment—what to do with a big bully.
Our last piece two days ago, “A resolute no to fake democracy”, argued that the Chinese Communist Party’s vision for Hong Kong as articulated in the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decision of August 31 is far worse than no reform at all. Following on that, this piece argues that while the CCP has shown clearly that it has no intention of allowing genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong any time soon, if ever, there are still important objectives for the pro-democracy movement to accomplish, and we have the power to do so.
Chinese translation published in InMedia
Alan Yeh / flickr
We must say it loudly and clearly: The Chinese Communist Party’s vision of fake democracy for Hong Kong is far worse than no ‘reform’ at all.
Developing: Students’ Strike
- Responses to students’ strikes from 11 universities and colleges in Hong Kong: Summary
- SCMP report: HKU Vice Chancellor: We support freedom of speech and we support staff and students to express opinions whether they are in favour of Occupy Central or against.
- SCMP report: PolyU won’t punish those who cut classes to join Occupy Central
- 2 Student Unions have issued students’ strike declarations