Hong Kong’s Power of the Powerless (or Hong Kong’s Last Stand)

The following is Kong Tsung-gan’s (江松澗) classic essay on the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement at this crucial moment in Hong Kong history.

It has appeared in various versions on Hong Wrong Blog, Open Democracy, The Reporters, Inc., and 3 Quarks Daily.

The Chinese translation is here: http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1025664

Continue reading

Advertisements

The struggle for Hong Kong

6 Sept 2014 | The Economist

The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s

CHINESE officials have called it a “leap forward” for democracy in Hong Kong. Yet their announcement on August 31st of plans to allow, for the first time, every Hong Kong citizen to vote for the territory’s leader has met only anger and indifference. Joy was conspicuously absent. This is not because Hong Kong’s citizens care little for the right to vote, but because China has made it abundantly clear that the next election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, due in 2017, will be rigged. The only candidates allowed to stand will be those approved by the Communist Party in Beijing, half a continent away.

Continue reading…

Recommended articles on Hong Kong this week

Hong Kong’s democracy champion Margaret Ng: Hong Kong’s Democracy Dilemma
HRW Sophie Richardson: China Sows Seeds of Crisis in Hong Kong
HK’s last governor Chris Patten: Britain is honour bound to speak up for Hong Kong
Leading scholar in democracy studies Larry Diamond: ‘A sad day for Hong Kong and democracy’
U.S. retired ambassador Stephen Young: A blow for Hong Kong, a lost opportunity for China’s democratic progress
Evan Osnos: China’s Hong Kong Mistake
Kerry Brown: Hong Kong’s Struggle for Democracy
CUHK law professor Surya Deva: Standing Committee decision on political reform violates Basic Law

Occupy Central’s Greatest Weapon – The Law!

2 Sept 2014 | Rich Scotford | China Op-eds

Beijing wants a subjugated Hong Kong like Macau is today. High on money, low on morals and locked-down on any real freedoms. That’s the model they desire for Hong Kong. However, the political awakening that is happening in Hong Kong now rejects this model for the city. The students are now the foot soldiers in an opening front to protect the Rule OF Law in Hong Kong. The students know they can go onto the street and break the law in a small way to prove that the law is still just.

The CPC can not play this kind of game in Hong Kong yet without becoming the biggest loser. Currently the laws of Hong Kong are steadfast and are guarded by a robust and dynamic internationally recognised legal system. If things get bad, Beijing can throw out all the laws of Hong Kong  and declare a state of emergency and impose marital law on the city – but if they do this, they lose. They lose an international city and the Hong Kong stock markets will crash and China will be an international pariah once more. Enormous proportions of the CPC’s wealth will be lost in a HK crash. Most Hong Kongers on the streets at the time will not care if the HK Stock Exchange collapses, Why? Because they have no interest there. That ship sailed for them years ago. Most Hong Kongers can barely afford housing or schooling, let alone stocks. Even Hong Kong’s once influential middle class have been pushed out of this market and struggle to survive in a city dominated by CPC corrupt money,  The CPC will be the biggest loser in any lock down of the city. They will effectively be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Continue reading…

 

No Matter What Beijing Says, Hong Kong Is Ready for Full Democracy

Emily Rauhala | 2 Sept 2014 | Time

A sophisticated, vibrant metropolis of over 7 million people deserves the right to nominate candidates for its top job

The fact is, the people of Hong Kong are absolutely able to chart their own political course. They are witty and well educated, voracious consumers of media and extremely vocal on issues that concern them, from education to conservation to national-security legislation. Hong Kong is not a child, in other words. It is stuck with a priggish parent with no idea how to cope.

Continue reading…

Foreign Forces in League with Hong Kong’s Democrats Include Gandhi, King, Jesus

Michael Forsythe | 1 Sept 2014 | New York Times

China’s leaders are onto something. Hong Kong citizens pushing for more democracy are indeed, as People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, said, colluding “with external forces.” At the top of the list of foreigners influencing the movement: Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ.

Continue reading…

Exam Review: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central with Love and Peace

Justin Tse | 29 August 2014 | Religon. Ethnicity. Wired.

Things are heating up over there in Hong Kong over the movement known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace. There’s going to be a rally on August 31 to deliberate over what sorts of acts of civil disobedience the movement will take in response to Beijing’s newly proposed framework for Hong Kong’s electoral reform. This is because while the Occupy Central movement put forward a proposal for Chief Executive candidates to be determined by civil nomination, Beijing has de facto rejected the proposal by insisting on choosing the candidates. Universal suffrage, however, seems to be still on the table. All of this comes on the heels of an anti-Occupy Central rally that was held in Central, as well as several seemingly political investigations of pro-democracy legislators. To add even more alarm in terms of the parallels to the Beijing Spring in Tiananmen Square in 1989, armoured vehicles have been reported to be entering Hong Kong from China.

Continue reading…

Beijing’s ‘knock-on-the-door’ warning to Hong Kong’s democracy movement

Patrick Brown | 29 August 2014 | CBC News

According to Nicolas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch, “The rule of law in Hong Kong has eroded faster in the past few months than it had over the whole period from 1997 to 2014.” And there are probably two main reasons for this.

Consolidating his power after almost two years in office, President Xi Jinping has spoken of the need for a firmer hand with Hong Kong, partly out of concern that allowing greater democracy there might lead to demands for the same in other parts of China.

The regime has also been caught off-guard by the strength of the campaign for democracy known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which participated in a huge march on July 1, the anniversary of the handover.

Continue reading…

To Save the Rich, China Ruins Hong Kong

Nisid Hajari | 29 August 2014 | Bloomberg

The cost of defending the plutocrats is high. A Chinese government white paper released in June appeared to raise doubts about the continued independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary and the city’s commitment to the rule of law, which have been pillars of its success. Raids this week on high-profile opposition supporter Jimmy Lai were hardly more reassuring. While democracy activists may not be able to shut down the central business district, as they’ve threatened, even low-level protests will draw weeks of unwanted international attention. Moderate Hong Kong parliamentarians say they won’t support Beijing’s proposals; as a result, they may fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the local legislature.

Sooner or later, Chinese leaders are going to have to get more comfortable with the idea of autonomy in outlying regions. In Xinjiang, which has been battered by a series of vicious terrorist attacks, the suppression of moderate voices has only enhanced the appeal of extremist groups. Hong Kong should have been an ideal test case for greater openness — a stable, ethnically Chinese enclave that is, yes, more interested in making money than in making trouble. So far Beijing is failing.

Continue reading…

United Front absorbs ICAC, and other stupidity

29 Aug 2014 | Big Lychee

In the past, Hong Kong has usually had moderate politicians, reasonable media voices and neutral bureaucrats and business people with the wisdom and good humour to maintain some basic cohesion. Even after the Article 23 uproar, or Donald Tsang’s anti-democrat tantrums, some sort of civility returned. This time feels different. In its attempts to assert control, Beijing has polarized the city, and it looks permanent. If they’re going to use law enforcement agencies for political persecution stunts, what’s the point of being moderate and constructive?

Maybe Beijing will realize its tactics are overkill and counterproductive. Otherwise, the city is going to end up more alienated, more disgruntled, and less governable than ever.

Continue reading…

China Insists That Hong Kong Should Only Have Pro-Beijing Candidates — for National Security

Oiwan Lam | 25 August 2014 | Global Voices Online

As pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong continue to push for a greater say in the election of the city’s leader, top officials in mainland China closed discussion on the matter, claiming any restrictions placed on the vote are done so for national security.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, is set to have its first direct vote of the city’s chief executive in 2017, but Beijing says a nominating committee must approve the candidates. Democracy advocates fear Hong Kong will only have pro-Beijing candidates to choose from, defeating the purpose of the election. 

Continue reading…

The time is now: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

Kong Tsung-Gan | 19 August 2014 | Open Democracy

In any freedom struggle, much of the struggle is between not only the oppressed and their oppressor but between the oppressed themselves, some of whom side with the oppressor, and within each of the oppressed, who in struggling against their oppressor also struggle against the voices within themselves that tell them to unconditionally obey authority or that there must be something wrong with them if they have such a grievance against ‘the way things are’, or that even if there is something wrong, it is utterly futile to fight it.  The fault lines are many.  Such is the case in the Hong Kong freedom struggle.  This is the result of Hong Kong’s history as a colony and an immigrant society.

In the entirety of its modern history, from the start of British colonial rule in 1842 up to today (when Hong Kong finds itself under the new colonial rule of the Chinese Communist Party), Hong Kong has always been a colony and never a democracy.  Like the rest of China, it has no democratic tradition.  Much of the current freedom struggle involves building the democratic culture Hong Kong has never had from the ground up.  Creating culture and changing culture is by no means an overnight process.  It takes time.  The question is, does Hong Kong have the time it takes?

Continue Reading…

‘Fake’ Pro-Gov Protesters Paid to Rally Against HK Democracy Movement

18 August 2014 | Hong Wrong

Thousands of protesters occupied Central in a rally against the pro-democracyOccupy Central movement yesterday. However, Now TV, Cable TV, TVBOriental Daily and the Economic Journal each discovered instances of demonstrators being paid up to HK$480 or offered freebies to attend.

Continue reading…

Hong Kong political reform consultation was dominated by ‘orchestrated’ responses

Calvin Liu, Brian Yap and Joyce Ng | 18 August 2014 | SCMP

The government’s consultation exercise on political reform was dominated by “orchestrated” bloc submissions, most of them favouring a conservative stance, a South China Morning Post study has revealed.

Summary:

  • More than 90% of 121,447 submissions to HK Gov electoral reform consultation were based on templates and submitted collectively by 822 groups- most of which were not named.
  • 80% of submissions to HK gov public consultation on electoral reform were made by unidentified groups using templates.
  • Pro-CCP DAB made 12.7% of submissions to HK gov electoral reform consultation, most nearly identical.
  • Unidentified groups & DAB are 92.7% of group submissions to HK consultation on electoral reform.

reform-graphic-0818

Continue reading…

Hong Kong’s bizarre ‘Fujianese Against Freedom’ march

18 August 2014 | Big Lychee

When the forces that hold power organize a street demonstration against the forces who don’t hold power – that is, the government holds a march against the populace – you know something strange is happening. Despite its title, the protest had no positive aim. It was a demonstration against demonstrating. It was demanding that people stop demanding things. It was a march for silence and obedience, and acceptance of unrepresentative (not to say poor) government.

Continue reading…

A Human Rights Defence of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central

Mattias Cheung | 16 August 2014 | Oxford Human Rights Hub

With the Hong Kong Government set on introducing an undemocratic electoral reform in the coming months, Professor Benny Tai has proposed to organise a peaceful assembly, ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’. It has been condemned and denounced as an affront to the rule of law.

The background to this saga is the Hong Kong Government’s proposed electoral reforms. With the imprimatur of Beijing in 2007, the Government now plans to introduce universal suffrage for Chief Executive (head of government) elections, but candidates must be nominated by an unaccountable nominating committee. This carries the imminent risk that ‘undesirable’ candidates will be screened out, contrary to Article 26 of the Basic Law and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’).

Continue reading…

The Power of the Powerless: Hong Kong’s Last Stand

Kong Tsung-gan | 14 August 2014 | Hong Wrong

As astro-turfing groups plan a pro-government rally this weekend, pro-democracy activist Kong Tsung-gan examines why some form of nonviolent direct action will be necessary for Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

In any freedom struggle, much of the struggle is between not only the oppressed and their oppressor but between the oppressed themselves, some of whom side with the oppressor, and within each of the oppressed, who in struggling against their oppressor also struggle against the voices within themselves that tell them to unconditionally obey authority or that there must be something wrong with them if they have such a grievance against ‘the way things are’, or that even if there is something wrong, it is utterly futile to fight it.  The fault lines are many.  Such is the case in the Hong Kong freedom struggle.  This is the result of Hong Kong’s history as a colony and an immigrant society.

In the entirety of its modern history, from the start of British colonial rule in 1842 up to today (when Hong Kong is essentially under a new colonial rule of the Chinese Communist Party), Hong Kong has always been a colony and never been a democracy.  Like the rest of China, it has no democratic tradition.  Much of the current freedom struggle involves building the democratic culture Hong Kong has never had from the ground up.  Creating culture, changing culture is by no means an overnight process.  It takes time.  The question is, Does Hong Kong have the time it takes? (More about that question in a moment.)

The process of democratic cultural change involves people transforming themselves from subjects ruled by others—which Hong Kong people have always been—to citizens who rule themselves.  This means changing the way we see ourselves.  It does not mean, in the first instance, the subjects ask the ruler for citizenship rights, for the ruler will not freely grant them.  It means the subjects refuse to any longer act as subjects and instead act as citizens, demanding their full rights as citizens, demanding ownership of the society that is rightfully ours, taking our fate into our own hands.  In the midst of the struggle for genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong, this is what is occurring.  (But again, does Hong Kong have the time it takes?)

Continue reading…

Why Are The “Big Four” Opposed To Hong Kong Democracy Demonstrations?

21 July 2014 | Mint Press News

WASHINGTON — Rights and watchdog groups are questioning both the logical and legal basis for a series of advertisements, published by the world’s four largest accountancy firms, expressing opposition to the recent pro-democracy demonstrations that took place in Hong Kong.

The firms include one, Deloitte, headquartered in the United States, as well as three European companies, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young (now known as EY) and KPMG. Of course, these are fully global entities, with collective revenues above $100 billion a year and together known simply as “the Big Four.”

Continue reading…

 

Hong Kongers Demand Self-Determination—Will Beijing Listen?

Chris Horton | 3 Jul 2014 | The Atlantic

HONG KONG — Last Monday marked the 16th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule after more than 150 years of being a British colony. Official and unofficial events here attempted to present a cheery picture of Hong Kong’s relations with the mainland.

“They’re terrified that Hong Kong will become too democratic an example for cities on the mainland. It’s a parental mentality.”

“Democracy is not a panacea, but it’s something to start with. With democracy you have transparency, you have people’s wishes and real public opinion in play. People’s self-determination, in the end, is what democracy is all about.”

Continue reading…