Showdown in Hong Kong

Zoher Abdoolcarim | 11 September 2014 | Time

Beijing must realize that the territory’s openness is what gives it real value to China

To China’s leaders, what’s different about Hong Kong is what makes it dangerous. Some local activists have called for the end to Communist Party rule of the mainland, making them, from Beijing’s standpoint, subversives. Beijing’s harder and more intimidating line toward Hong Kong reflects its harder and more intimidating line at home and toward much of the rest of the world. If powers like the U.S. and Russia are reluctant to challenge China, goes the thinking in Beijing, who is tiny Hong Kong to do so?

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David Cameron’s choice of the century: To confront or kowtow?

Noah Sin | 20 August 2014 | Backbench

For good or for ill, plenty has happened since I wrote for The Independent calling for Britain’s intervention in Hong Kong to secure democracy over a month ago.

Former governor Chris Patten broke his long silence over Hong Kong’s future, as he slammed China’s assault on Hong Kong’s judicial independence. Shortly after, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg greeted veteran leading democrats from Hong Kong who were declined an audience with the Prime Minister, and criticised his coalition partners for their failure to stand up to China. In the media, The Economist published two articles on Hong Kong in the same issue; one investigates the contagious culture of self-censorship under Chinese rule, whereas the other recommends Cameron to serve Britain’s ‘broader interests’ by taking a lead in mobilising the international community against China.

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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?

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Hong Kong’s Future Will Be In The Hands Of Activists Or Politicians?

David Eldon | 19 August 2014 | Forbes

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.  (Charles Darwin)

The Hong Kong system of “government” is far from ideal, but the amount of noise it is currently generating locally is out of proportion to Hong Kong’s self-perceived importance on the world stage.

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Current social weather likened to events leading to 1967 riots

18 August 2014 | EJ Insight

Political commentators Johnny Lau and Ching Cheong compare the current social atmosphere in Hong Kong to the one just before the 1967 leftist riots.

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy is using organizations to accomplish the political task of the authorities. The society is being torn apart, and authorities are aggravating the situation by playing on the people’s sentiments, Apple Daily reported on Monday, citing Lau.

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Ex-Judge Rejects China Patriotism Call for Hong Kong Courts

Jill Mao, Natasha Khan | 15 August 2014 | Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s former top judge said the city needs to defend the independence of the judiciary after a Chinese policy paper stoked concerns of heightened influence by the government in Beijing.

The white paper issued by the Chinese government in June saying judges should be patriotic raised “widespread concerns,” Andrew Li, the former chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal, said today in a commentary in the South China Morning Post.

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Solicitors thrash United Front

15 August 2014 | Big Lychee

The week closes on a bright note in the form of a Law Society squabble most of us don’t really understand in deep detail, but basically: good triumphs over evil.

Not many of us spare much time thinking about solicitors. They’re the breed of lawyer who scrape a living doing photocopying – or as they call it, ‘conveyancing’. Triads, money-launderers and bankrupts depend on them to use paperwork and form-filling to make nastiness look legitimate or to issue veiled threats, they are not typically to the manor born, but unpolished and locally and relatively modestly educated sons of the upwardly mobile lower-middle. They tend to be short, shifty-looking and have hair and fingernail problems.

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What our fair city needs more than politics

SC Yeung | 14 August 2014 | EJ Insight

If nothing else, the battle between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing forces for the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people is turning our fair city into a highly politicized society.

This all seems to come down to the partisan line “you’re either with us or against us”.

The fact is most Hong Kong people are politically neutral and would prefer to be left to go about their lives.

But they can’t help being caught up in the fevered campaigns by the opposing camps to bring down each other.

Either way, Hong Kong’s silent majority has a lot at stake.

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Realty check: Scrimp & save for 14 years to buy a tiny flat!

Vey Wong | 14 August 2014 | EJ Insight

An average Hong Kong family would need to scrimp and save for about 14 years to be able to buy a tiny 400-square-foot apartment in the city’s urban areas, according to a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

The overall quality of life in Hong Kong has deteriorated over the year through 2013, with property affordability the weakest in 12 years, the survey found.

 

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Realpolitik up-close

11 August 2014 | Big Lychee

The South China Morning Post has a columnist who regularly and tirelessly repeats much the same hand-wringing mantra: wouldn’t it be nice if everyone compromised and we had peace and harmony? She does it again today. It presupposes a political division between two sides each of whom can claim to fairly represent similarly broad camps and each of whose arguments have some validity. That might summarize debate in democracies over, say, tax cuts versus welfare spending. But it has little relevance to political reform in Hong Kong.

One side here is an autocratic and dictatorial one-party state that rules by fear and has a long record of crushing opposition by force. (It is fronted locally by various Communist loyalists, shoe-shining tycoons and supine if not mercenary bureaucrats, but that’s a façade: this is all top-down puppet-master power.) The other side is a society that insists on keeping pluralism, openness and freedom, and wants representative government as well. There is no symmetry here, and no grounds for negotiation or compromise. The ‘autocratic’ side has all the real hard power; its opponents can only hope that it perceives an interest in not beating them into a pulp, and maybe even in granting a fairer administration.

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