Date
12 December 2017
Benny Tai says Beijing's white paper could have the opposite effect on Hong Kong people. It could harden their resolve to fight for democracy. Photo: HKEJ
Benny Tai says Beijing's white paper could have the opposite effect on Hong Kong people. It could harden their resolve to fight for democracy. Photo: HKEJ

Tai: Beijing white paper could alienate Hong Kong people

Beijing’s warning that it has complete control over Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle will alienate the populace and force moderate democrats into the radical camp.

The warning came in an unprecedented white paper issued Tuesday by the State Council in which it said the central government has absolute authority over Hong Kong and is the source of its autonomy.

The document has raised grave concern in Hong Kong and many pan-democrats believe it is targeted at the June 22 civil referendum on electoral reform, according to Benny Tai, an associate law professor of the University of Hong Kong and co-organizer of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement which is organizing the exercise.

The white paper came at a sensitive time for Hong Kong which is expected to choose the best way forward under a civil nomination model for selecting the candidates for the 2017 chief executive election.

Beijing favors a mechanism under which candidates will be screened by a nominating committee.

The timing of the white paper might have been meant to discourage Hong Kong people from taking part in the exercise, Tai was quoted as saying by AM730.

Tai said Beijing’s move could have the opposite effect. It could harden the resolve of Hong Kong people to fight for more democracy and drive moderate democrats into a more radical stance.

Teng Biao, a Hong Kong-based human rights activist and lawyer, tweeted that the white paper could push moderate people who have been on the sidelines into the arms of Occupy Central.

Citing the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, Civic Party leader Alan Leong said the central government cannot interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs and demanded Beijing keep its word on the promised high degree of autonomy for the city.

However, Lau Nai-keung, a member of the Basic Law committee, lashed out at critics of the white paper, calling them arrogant and self-centered.

Rao Geping, another member of the Basic Law committee, said Beijing has always had control over Hong Kong and that the white paper is meant to give Hong Kong people a better understanding of the “one country, two systems” principle.

An expert on Chinese matters said the document might have been released to counter a movement for universal suffrage and preempt interference by outsiders in Hong Kong’s political development.

Also, the language seemed to suggest that Occupy Central is illegal, Now TV reported, citing China expert Antonio Ma.

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