Proof is in the Pudding (NY Times Article 12/27/02)


#1

China as master, Hong Kong as slave.

Here’s the link:

http://college4.nytimes.com/guests/articles/2002/12/27/964534.xml

If you can’t access it, I’ll paste the article here:

Endangered Liberties in Hong Kong

You don’t have to be a human rights activist to deplore Hong Kong’s current drive to enact insidious security legislation that threatens its people’s freedoms. Hong Kong’s conservative business community is alarmed by the effort, too, seeing a threat to the territory’s status as a financial center. Beijing’s Communist leaders should recognize how damaging this is to their interests as well and signal a willingness to modify or set aside the proposed legislation.

Until now China’s five-year-old rule of the “special administrative region” has gone more smoothly than skeptics expected at the time of the British handover in 1997. For the most part, Beijing’s regime has grudgingly respected the “one country, two systems” concept underlying the territory’s Basic Law and the agreement struck with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain in 1984, under which Beijing agreed to respect Hong Kong’s freedoms for a half-century. By and large, Hong Kong has been allowed to remain a freewheeling bastion of capitalism. Its residents have gone about their business, causing Beijing little grief or embarrassment.

The proposed measure would sharply curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms by giving the government a pretext to crack down on political activities, dissent and the distribution of information it finds unacceptable.

Freedom of speech could be threatened by a law that would ban “seditious” publications and make it a crime to endanger the “stability” of Hong Kong or China. Provisions to criminalize vaguely defined “state secrets” and “unauthorized” news would muzzle a free press and undermine the territory’s ability to survive as a vibrant financial center that thrives on a free flow of information. The proposals would ban political organizations deemed by Beijing a threat to national security.

Although the government claims it is responsive to public concerns, it is planning to refer the legislation in short order to the Legislative Council, a docile pro-Beijing body, under a set of fast-track procedural rules. China stands to lose much if it proceeds with this misguided plan. The decline of Hong Kong as one of the world’s premier financial centers would be detrimental to the mainland’s economy, and the violation of Hong Kong’s autonomy would devalue Beijing’s credibility in seeking a peaceful reconciliation with Taiwan.

New York Times, December 27, 2002


#2

Poor HK. Democratic reforms should have started 20 years ago in order to present the Chinese with a fait accompli. Instead this mess. The old colony has so much going for it, but due to Beijing, it will slowly but surely decline. Too bad.


#3

I think it’s long been on China’s agenda to reduce the economic muscle first of HK in favor of Guangzhou, and then to stifle the south in favor of Shanghai. After all, Shanghai is politically much more on the same page with Beijing and historically the rebellions have come from Guangdong. I’d disagree with the presumption that Beijing wants to see a strong or healthy HK, they’d much have rather have a tamed and obedient one, especially when it’s possible to move the economic clout closer to home, where it’s easier to keep under the thumb.

Neither is a healthy HK a prerequisite for reunification with Taiwan. The downturn in HK’s economy and human rights situation is obvious from here, but you don’t hear the pro-China rabble mention that, now do you? No, they politely skip that and yammer about how well Shanghai is doing… Ignore the train crash and line up for lottery tickets.


#4

I think Hong Kong’s decline cannot be entirely blamed on the Beijing government (or the British). I think it has lost its competitive advantage to China. Shanghai and the Special Economic Zones all have excellent infrastructure and Hong Kong cannot really compete with them on cost.

As for Beijing’s continuing interference with HK’s affairs this only demonstrates to Taiwan that “one country, two systems” is simply not workable.


#5

[quote=“wix99”]
As for Beijing’s continuing interference with HK’s affairs this only demonstrates to Taiwan that “one country, two systems” is simply not workable.[/quote]

Precisely why I posted this article. Can you imagine the heirs of the ideology (and egos) that murdered millions of people in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution (not to mention TianAnMen) being content with letting Taiwanese democracy continue to form, under Chinese rule? Say goodbye to most everything as we know it.

T.


#6

The irony is that the statute book of colonial Hong Kong was full of legislation and orders which could be invoked to stifle freedom of the press and freedom of association. The colony of Hong Kong had plenty of anti-sedition legislation, and the police had wide-ranging powers of stop, search, arrest, and detention. Prior to 1997 the government did its best to try and remove a lot of these as it knew Beijing would use them without compunction. This clearly angered Beijing immensely, as it wanted Hong Kong just the way it was - a non-democratic little colony with its colonial system intact. This new legislation does little more than return Hong Kong to the status quo prior to 1997. The difference now will be that Beijing will control implementation of these powers, rather than the HK Colonial Govt.


#7

[quote=“hsiadogah”]I think it’s long been on China’s agenda to reduce the economic muscle first of HK in favor of Guangzhou.[/quote] No. This is wrong.

It has long been China’s desire to use Hongkong as an experiment in free-market economics and political freedoms. It makes no sense to encourage Guangzhou at HK’s expense because HK’s advantage is that it has exactly the kind of legal infrastructure that China needs to learn from.

Anti-sedition laws? Well, Chinese intellectuals still tend to the view that it is possible to instigate free-market reform and promote growth without liberalising politics until much later in the process. They can cite: Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, even Hongkong itself, etc, as evidence.


#8

Quite right. But then we must consider the difference between the previous British colonial government that ruled Hong Kong and the current government in Beijing.


#9

And for what possible benefit? As Machiavelli wrote, it’s much easier to continue to deny people rights than to take existing ones away. The CCP has no desire to allow it’s citizens political rights now or ever, so why bother dabbling? You are assuming that the PRC is run for the benefit of it’s citizens, which it is patently not. They would like to learn what made HK so successful, and then transplant the safe and controllable aspects up to Shanghai where they keep it under close control. Beijing doesn’t trust the Cantonese and never will.


#10

[quote=“Tomas”][quote=“wix99”]
As for Beijing’s continuing interference with HK’s affairs this only demonstrates to Taiwan that “one country, two systems” is simply not workable.[/quote]

Precisely why I posted this article. [/quote]

Thanks for your post Tomas, but I don’t agree with the writer of the article, where he says until now China’s rule of HK has gone smoothly.

I have noticed subtle but important news tidbits over the past 5 years that contradict this statement. One had to do with the authority of the HK legal system and the ruling on the “Right to abode” of PRC born children of HK citizens. China over turned the HK court ruling. Another was a freedom of speech issue whereby the XinHua News agency threated the press and the TV news media at every turn not to report favorably about Taiwan among other things. This came about in response to an interview for HK cable TV the new Taiwan VP Lu gave shortly after Chen and Lu were democratically elected in Taiwan. So influential was the interview in fact, that the China propaganda machine had to silence her capabilities of news coverage in HK. Then there was the freedom of religion crackdown on Fa Lun Gong members and the HK immigration department not allowing PRC dissidents from the US and fa lun gong members from the US and other places to visit HK. Also, soon after the handover in 1997 many of the democracy advocates like a Mr. Martin Lee and some other lady resigned and or threatened to resign from the HK legislative department in protest of not having democracy in HK any longer. I believe their elected position was now superceded by LEGCO and they no longer had any power. I also remember how people protested the reappointment of Tung Chee Hwa the unpopular Beijing appointed yes man. Also the firing of the foreign editor of the South China Morning Post for not toeing the Communist Party line. Now the SCMP is a mouthpiece of the XinHua propaganda news agency.

Someone want to help me with other bad news from the Hong Kong the PRC communist colony. The changes are subtle and not enough for tourists to notice, you must pay close attention to the news.

Finallly I am all for the removal of the British, but what I want to point out is that the Communist government of Beijing can not be trusted to keep their word regarding 50 years of autonomous HK self rule.


#11

The British democratic reforms were token and last minute. The worst thing is the British never considered the right of the Hong Kong people to self-determination. So while it is a good thing the British gave up Hong Kong the people of Hong Kong never had the chance to decide how Hong Kong should be governed after the British were gone. There should have been an extensive public debate and a referendum, but for as long as they have Beijing’s yoke around their neck it will never happen.