Hong Kongers demand Democracy

January 1, 2004
Thousands Rally in Hong Kong to Demand Free Elections


[quote=“Mother Theresa”]

Many business tycoons oppose further democracy, contending that the public does not understand the importance and complexity of creating an environment conducive to investment. . . . Beijing has already signaled its uneasiness with allowing greater democracy in Hong Kong, particularly as long as candidates hostile to the Communist Party continue to do well in elections here. Chinese security agencies have stepped up their monitoring of the city after being taken by surprise by the protests last July, pro-Beijing political leaders said. . .

nytimes.com/2004/01/01/inter … NG.html?hp[/quote]
I think this article is a little inaccurate when it says that “many business tycoons oppose further democracy.” This is such bullshit. Most of the top tycoons have nothing against democracy in HK. Li Jiacheng, Gordon Wu and many of the other big names that foreigners and HK people recognize have all spoken in favour of further democracy. Sure, they are not as extreme as the Democratic Party, but they have all spoken up in favour of more democracy when they could. The “tycoons” who speak against more democracy are the second rate types who make most of their money OUTSIDE of HK- that is, in the mainland where they get favourable business deals because they are so willing to kick back money. They constantly whine and bitch when the pro-democracy camp seems to be doing well. This was in the South China Morning Post in December (sorry, you can’t link to the SCMP):

Tycoon Peter Woo Kong-ching has called on the central government to protect the “rights” of Hong Kong’s business community by not allowing a dilution of its power in the Legislative Council and the election committee that chooses the chief executive.
He said the public was “too hopeful” about the prospect of directly electing the chief executive, implying he believed universal suffrage would do more harm than good.

He urged President Hu Jintao and other state leaders to consider how to maintain a “balanced participation” in politics without introducing universal suffrage.

The business sector should keep at least one-quarter of the seats in the legislature even after the review of the post-2007 constitutional framework, said Mr Woo, chairman of Wharf Holdings and an adviser to the central government.

In a recent speech, Mr Woo said the central government should keep the trade-based functional constituencies in Legco because Hong Kong was a “business city”.

“The introduction of elections of chief executive and all seats of Legco through universal suffrage amounts to abolition of the business sector’s rights to participate in politics,” Mr Woo told the leaders.

“After [the] July 1 [protest], I hope that the central authorities will send out a stronger signal on this to make it clear there will not be any change to this position,” the speech read.

Mr Woo said the public was “too hopeful” on the prospect on electing both the next chief executive and Legco after 2007, after “encouragement” from the proponents of universal suffrage.

He said without copying the political system in the US or Europe, consideration should be given to preserving the present system of participation in politics.

Can you imagine a politician or business leader in any developed country having the gaul to demand that a quarter of all seats in the legislature be reserved for the “business sector” (I put it in quotation marks because the only part of the business sector that gets representation in Legco is the small group of monopolies like Wharf Holdings) so the “the rights” of businessmen will be “protected.” As you may conclude from the article above, Peter Woo is quite fond of going up to Beijing to stroke cocks.

Taiwan should take heed of talk like this. Many people, me included, believe that Beijing has treated HK fairly well since 1997. However, too many people don’t recognize the reason for this. Sure, Beijing wants to preserve HK’s financial and logistics sectors, but that isn’t why they haven’t openly interfered too much. The reason is that Beijing feels like it needs to show good behaviour in HK in order to draw Taiwan in. If Taiwan makes a unification deal with the mainland, this will be a sad day for both HK and Taiwan. Since Beijing will have no one left to impress and draw in for unification, they will be a lot more blunt when dealing with HK issues. The worst thing that could happen for democratization in HK is the unification of Taiwan and the mainland.

Hong Kongers’ attitude to democracy: 誰對我有利,就靠誰

[quote=“hexuan”]Hong Kongers’ attitude to democracy:

So this means, as long as the Communists have opposition they will oppose democracy. There is nothing but their blessed Communist rule. I think even their toilet water smells sweet.

That kind of attitude is why I live in Democratic China and don’t want to move to another China.

It’s hard to know whether Patten was right to engage in his last minute electoral reforms. The PRC and the UK signed the Joint Declaration with (I believe) the intention of handing over HK with its warts’n’all colonial laws, some of which could be used fairly repressively in the right (or wrong) hands. I think this was what Beijing wanted: its own colony. The UK presumably wanted the economic system to remain as it was, and the price was handing over an imperfect electoral system and a statute book containing laws which limited freedom of expression and association.

The other aspect of it is, and was debated at the time, that Shanghai was being groomed as Plan B if HK became too problematic for Beijing. Many people now think Shanghai was Plan A all along, given that Beijing would find it hard to take credit for a continuation of HK’s prosperity when all around would credit that to 150 years of British colonial management. At least Beijing can claim Shanghai as a mostly domestic success story.

So now HK is on its own, and that may explain an increase in political awareness there. HK is now not the only Chinese coastal goose laying the golden eggs.

HK’s political apathy is what kept it viable through the Cold War and Nationalist/Communist civil war era. It is worth remembering that China didn’t open the border (well just for one day) during the CR. Had HK really been preceived as a threat it would have been Game Over in 1967. (The “1997 is just a phone call away” scenario.) I don’t know if a highly politicized HK will survive for long. Look at what Beijing did on their first day in charge - set up a “Provisional Council” in violation of the Basic Law. Fifty years from now Beijing will be free of any “One Country Two Systems” obligation it might feel it is currently under, and fifty years is not a long time in Chinese history. Taiwan quite profitably maintained the Zhonghua Minguo fiction for fifty years. Perhaps HK would be better off with the appearance of democracy, but actually not bite the hand that feeds too hard ? Of course in saying that I make the assumption that Taiwan and Hong Kong need China much more than China needs them, and that is debatable.