Beijing Struggles to Reach a Decision About Hong Kong

6 December, 2014 at 13:01 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Wang Taotong
Epoch Times

As the Hong Kong government continues to clear democracy protesters from the streets, drawing the world’s attention to the Umbrella Movement, Beijing faces the problem of how to handle the anger in Hong Kong over the denial of universal suffrage.

On Nov. 25, Wall Street Journal quoted news sources saying that Beijing authorities are discussing how to respond to the Hong Kong public’s dissatisfaction with the reform package that stated how Hong Kong’s next chief executive would be elected.

The reform package resolution was passed on Aug. 31 by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee and states that Hongkongers can elect their chief executive with universal suffrage as long as the candidates are chosen by a nominating committee. The nominating committee in question is largely controlled by Beijing.

This decision provoked widespread anger in the Hong Kong public, who viewed it as blocking them from true universal suffrage and democracy. The event triggered tens of thousands of students to protest in Hong Kong on Sept. 22 and the start of the Umbrella Movement for democracy on Sept. 28.

According to WSJ, the Beijing authorities’ decision would include adjusting the composition of the chief executive nominating committee to make it better reflect public opinion, especially the voice of pan-democrats. However, the decision must also ensure that Beijing continues to control the elections.

Party Divided

The two factions of the Chinese Communist Party, one headed by current Party leader Xi Jinping and the other supporting former leader Jiang Zemin, have delivered conflicting messages on how the Party is planning to handle Hong Kong.

Jiang faction member Zhang Dejiang, the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said to Hong Kong pro-Communist groups on Sept. 16 that the NPC Standing Committee has the highest unshakable legal power over the decision about Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, also a Jiang faction supporter, has declared that dialogue with the protesters must be carried out under the framework of the NPC. In response to the Umbrella Movement, Leung said he was “willing to have dialogue with anyone who is in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law and the resolution of the NPC.”

Xi Jinping, on the other hand, has never mentioned the NPC’s reform package in public since it was made.

On Sept. 22, Xi held a high-profile meeting with over 70 Hong Kong businessmen in Beijing. Xi said in his speech that there would be no change to the “one-country, two-systems” policy that gives Hong Kong a high degree of independence from China.

When official Party media reported on Xi’s speech, they did not mention the reform package but emphasized maintaining the authority of the Basic Law instead of the authority of the NPC. This indicates the difference between the two factions’ stances.

In Beijing on Nov. 9, Xi met Leung Chun-ying, who was attending the APEC summit. Xi started their talk with a request for a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the “one-country, two-systems” principle and the Basic Law, to support the development of democracy in Hong Kong under the legal system.

In Xi’s public speeches and the subsequent reports by official Party media, there has been no mention of either the reform package or the White Paper made by the Jiang faction earlier this year that stated Hong Kong only has as much power as Beijing is willing to give it.

The NPC has gradually become an anti-Xi Jinping base. On Sept. 30, Li Shenming, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the NPC, published an article in Party mouthpiece newspaper People’s Daily with an implied threat to Xi. Li quoted former Party leader Mao Zedong in the article: “Our chairman cannot dissolve the National People’s Congress; on the contrary, the NPC can remove the chairman from office.”

Sources in the Party have said that Zhang Dejiang intended to solidify the power of the NPC and prevail over Xi by disturbing Hong Kong’s situation, using the Aug. 31 reform package resolution to create trouble for Xi.

The sources reported that Xi has almost full control of the army since the Party’s fourth Plenary Session in late October. It is expected that once he fully controls the Central Military Commission, Xi will move against Zhang, and the situation will change dramatically.

Is That Fear?

Washington-based China expert Shi Cangshan said that Xi’s officials have apparently not changed the NPC’s resolution and have not made Leung Chun-ying step down according to Hongkongers’ wishes. However, Shi pointed out that sources have said Xi would expand the make up of the nominating committee, which would in fact change the NPC’s resolution.

According to Shi’s analysis, the Party is horrified that the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong has created an obstacle against the Party. In addition, mainland Chinese people are supporting the Umbrella Movement and continuing to speak out, which is a major blow to the Party.

The Chinese Communist Party has actually been forced to compromise. Shi believes that a lot of major policies will be changed gradually after this.

Shi said the Jiang faction is playing a life-and-death game with the Xi faction. He thinks the Xi faction is about to continue its widespread purging of Jiang faction members, making use of the military.

Translation by Susan Wang. Written in English by Sally Appert.

via Beijing Struggles to Reach a Decision About Hong Kong – The Epoch Times

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A Troubled Hong Kong Returns Violence With Compassion

2 October, 2014 at 10:09 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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A photo captures the city’s imagination and helps it let go its anger

By Li Zhen
Epoch Times

Commentary

HONG KONG—On Sept. 29 the government withdrew the riot police, and at least 100 thousand students and adults continued gathering outside the central government offices in Admiralty, and in Causeway, Wan Chai, and Mong Kok. After a night of terror on Sept. 28, the mood in the city had shifted, a shift perhaps captured by an Epoch Times photograph that went viral.

On the night of Sept. 28, a young protester stood opposite the police outside the Central Government offices. Suddenly, and without provocation, the police discharged pepper spray.

The young man was preoccupied with filming, and the pepper spray went onto his face and in his eyes. He cried out in pain, “We are unarmed. How can you attack us like that?”

The policeman standing opposite the young man said, “I know, I know.” Then, while dressed in the face shield and gas mask that made him look like something other than a human being, the policeman took out his own water bottle and began rinsing the young man’s eyes.

At that moment, Epoch Times photographer Yu Gang snapped a photo.

The simple image has touched countless Hongkongers. They find the photo soothing in a time of trouble. It seems to encourage people to set aside their anger, and the positive feelings it engenders are circulating through the Internet and into society.

Netizens Respond

Within a few hours after the photo was uploaded to the Hong Kong Epoch Times Facebook page, over a million people saw the post in their news feed.

One netizen responding to the photo wrote, “Of course we understand they [the police] are just doing their jobs. We are not mad at them. We are mad at the authorities.”

Another wrote, “I used to be a policeman and understand they have to obey orders when on duty. Why only put the blame on frontline police? From my point of view, it’s the commissioner who should take the most responsibility. He should apologize and be dismissed from his position. Note that it is DIMISSED!”

“The police have gone too far, but the chief criminals are [Chief Executive] Leung Chun-ying and [Police Commissioner] Tsang Wai-hung. Should have them kneel and apologize to everybody,” wrote a netizen.

Another netizen wrote, “I heard the police kept saying ‘sorry’ to protesters while firing pepper spray.”

Some netizens also showed support and admiration for the reporters and photographers working at the front lines. “Without you guys, there won’t be any news. Thank you all for risking your lives to record everything from the beginning,” read one post.

The photographer Yu Gang said that while covering the protests he was caught in the tear gas and could hardly breathe. A few people helped him get out of that place, and one of them was a policeman. Yu remembered he saw the word “police” on one person through a translucent rain coat.

Peacefulness, Compassion, and Tolerance

After the police fired volleys of tear gas into the crowds on the night of the 28th, the authorities obviously realized the gravity of the situation and changed their tactics.

Condemnation for the police action immediately descended on Hong Kong from around the world, and statements of support for democracy in Hong Kong were forthcoming from the UN Secretary General, the White House, and Canada’s foreign ministry.

In Hong Kong, the indignation over the use of pepper spray and tear gas against unarmed students and protesters is citywide and extends through all parts of society.

Beneath the indignation, there is a mutual grief. Hongkongers have lost faith in the police, and a relationship built over a long period of time is now gone.

There are reports that the Hong Kong police are split on how to handle the demonstrators. Some are tormented at having targeted unarmed and compassionate young students, some of whom may be their relatives or people they know. After the night of tear gassing, some police announced their resignations on Facebook.

In the current situation, the police will have a hard time increasing the violence. Hong Kong is a special region. It is a small city with a population of about 7 million. Inhabitants here share the same Chinese traditions and also the colonial culture inherited from the United Kingdom. They mainly speak Cantonese and some English. They identify with one another.

The pro-democracy protesters have won over the whole city, even the entire world, with their peacefulness, compassion, and tolerance.

A Hongkonger wrote on Facebook that he has never seen such polite demonstrators. They have not damaged a single car or harmed any public facilities or anything at all. They did not attempt to fight back after being doused with pepper spray and being immersed in clouds of tear gas. They pick up their trash and clean up after themselves.

During their demonstrations, they sing and cry. They distribute food and water in an orderly way. Some students study at the site.

When the coordinator of the rally asked the protesters to leave after the police unleashed the tear gas on the 28th, none left. Instead, more people came to join. They are fighting for a better Hong Kong and displaying the true spirit of Hong Kong for the whole world to see.

As a Hongkonger wrote on the internet, “At this moment, I have to admit that I’m truly proud of you all, my fellow Hong Kong people!”

Translated by Michelle Tsun.

via A Troubled Hong Kong Returns Violence With Compassion

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Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

6 September, 2014 at 09:29 | Posted in China, human rights, Society | Leave a comment
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By Li Zhen
Epoch Times

HONG KONG—For decades Hong Kong democrats have dreamed of universal suffrage. On Aug. 31, the Chinese communist regime officially shut the door on this possibility for the next election, infuriating Hong Kongers and moving them to action.

Since Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China in 1984, democracy supporters in the city-state have hoped to someday elect their chief executive and Legislative Council members by true universal suffrage without control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP has repeatedly postponed its promise of true universal suffrage. Their most recent decision is that Hong Kong can have universal suffrage as long as a Beijing-controlled nominating committee selects the chief executive candidates and Beijing gets the final say in the election.

As a result, many Hong Kongers feel that they have been deceived for 30 years.

One Lie Too Many

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Secretary General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, broke into tears during a rally on the evening of Aug. 31.

“We were all saddened at how much the efforts of young men have been wasted for the past 30 years, going around in circles on the issue of democratic development,” Chow said. “After this battle, the majority who support democracy, including the moderates, have been pushed into a dead end by the CCP.”

“Who would still hold out hope of negotiating with the Communist Party? Who would still believe in the lie of ‘one country, two systems’ and the high degree of autonomy?”

Chow was referring to the CCP’s promise in 1984 that Hong Kong would have a high degree of independence from mainland China, with the principle of “one country, two systems.”

Chow told Epoch Times that in the future Hong Kongers will fight for their autonomy, including launching student strikes, instead of trusting the CCP.

Nearly 800 thousand Hong Kong people voted for democracy in June during an informal civil referendum held by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a nonviolent movement for universal suffrage. With their hopes of democracy dashed, Hong Kong citizens are rallying together to oppose the CCP.

“This is not the darkest day in Hong Kong, but the beginning day of Hong Kongers’ awakening,” said Occupy Central co-organizer Chan Kin-man.

Chan has participated in politics for years as a moderate scholar, attempting to negotiate with the CCP to carry forward Hong Kong’s democratic development. He supported Hong Kong’s political reforms in 2005 and 2010.

Now Chan is deeply upset with the decision by the CCP’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to deny true universal suffrage. He said the decision shows that the CCP would never grant any real power to Hong Kong.

Chan said that in the early 1980s some students from the University of Hong Kong were concerned with Hong Kong’s future after the handover, so they demanded democracy.

“[Former Chinese premier] Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to the students and promised there would be universal suffrage in Hong Kong’s future. But to this day, you can tell that the universal suffrage is in fact a fully manipulated election,” Chan said.

After the handover in 1997, Hong Kongers continued to put their hopes in Beijing for universal suffrage. Chan said that they knew it wouldn’t be granted in the first ten years after the handover, so they pinned their hopes on 2007. In 2004, however, the NPC vetoed the plan of universal suffrage for 2007.

Later the hope was to achieve universal suffrage in 2012, but the CCP delayed it again. Chan said that the moderates and the democrats, including the Democratic Party, all feel like they have been deceived.

“When we accepted the time frame, we thought 2017 was the finishing point. But now 2017 is just a starting point, and democratic development is to be carried forward slowly, step by step [according to the CCP],” Chan said.

However, Chan sees hope in the darkness.

“We are willing to protect our way of life with the power of the people, which is a gratifying thing,” he said. “We hope that society will not develop a pessimistic mood just because the political reform has encountered a dead end. I hope we all stay in this place to protect our homeland, making this the beginning of a new chapter.”

Double Deception

Cheng Yu-shek, convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, thinks the CCP has deceived Hong Kong in two major aspects in the past 30 years. The first is the promise of a high degree of autonomy.

“Now some Beijing officials have said Beijing must take control over Hong Kong. This is a dramatic change,” Cheng said.

The second deception is the promise to achieve democracy in Hong Kong step by step. The NPC’s recent decision is a regression, Cheng said.

“How is ‘step-by-step’ reflected in this? They often say that Hong Kong will have democracy when conditions are ripe, but how to tell when the conditions are ripe?” Cheng said. “Therefore, we can see clearly that the Party will hold on to the power over Hong Kong, and it will certainly not allow genuine democracy in Hong Kong.”

Cheng places his hope in long-term and persistent fighting, and never giving up.

“We shall safeguard our core values, lifestyle, and dignity,” he said. “We refuse to let Hong Kong become another mainland city.”

Taiwan political critic Lin Baohua held a press conference in Taiwan echoing Hong Kong’s democratic campaign. He said the NPC’s decision has shown that the CCP no longer needs to make Hong Kong an example of “one country two systems” to show to Taiwan.

Lin said the CCP is deceptive by nature, putting on a show for the public and letting them have fantasies. Before the NPC meeting, both Beijing officials and Hong Kong CCP supporter Lau Siu-kai said that NPC’s decision wasn’t final, and there was still room for discussion.

“However, this [political reform] draft was a step backward,” Lin said.

According to Lin, the previous rule “allows one to become a chief executive candidate with just one-eighth of all nominating committee votes, but now at least a 50 percent nomination is required.”

‘CCP Must Be Overthrown’

Lin added that only by disintegrating the CCP will Hong Kong have democracy.

“The CCP must be overthrown,” he said. “The CCP itself is opposing democracy, and it’s impossible to let Hong Kong develop democracy.”

“If it did, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai would all want democracy, and then what? So it’s impossible to grant democracy to HK,” Lin said.

Senior political commentator Lin Yuet-tsang wrote in his column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal that political circumstances have entered a sharp downturn. He said the CCP has shown its true nature, shocking many moderates, centrists, and those who are not usually concerned with political affairs.

Lin Yuet-tsang said he never believed Hong Kong could obtain democracy from the CCP’s hands. He added that he has been fighting for three decades, and it is important to spread democratic awareness.

Epoch Times columnist Xia Xiaoqiang said Hong Kong’s democratic system has demonstrated the universal values of freedom and human rights to the mainland Chinese people. This is what the CCP fears, Xia said.

Translated by Michelle Tsun. Written in English by Sally Appert.

via Hong Kongers Have Had Enough of Beijing’s Deception

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