Date
19 August 2017
Members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, one of the sponsors of the June 4 candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, are considered unpatriotic by Beijing. Photo: HKEJ
Members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, one of the sponsors of the June 4 candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, are considered unpatriotic by Beijing. Photo: HKEJ

Who decides who is an enemy of the state?

More than politics, national security is at the core of Beijing’s thinking on Hong Kong’s democratic development.

It will go along with Hong Kong people directly electing their leader in 2017 but it wants control of the process by having a hand in selecting the candidates.

That’s the reason it’s pushing for screening and toughening the nomination threshold by requiring any nominee to have the support of the majority of the nominating committee.

Not for Beijing are politicians advocating for the death of one-party rule in the mainland, or those consorting with foreign powers to create trouble for the ruling elite.   

The question is what constitutes a threat to national security? And who decides who is an enemy of the state?

These issues must be answered before any electoral reform proposal comes to a vote before the Legislative Council.

For instance, we must be clear about political background checks and decide whether it does not violate a core Hong Kong value — the freedom to participate in elections.

Because if it does, that is a sign “one country, two systems” is a failure.

Zhang Xiaoming, head of the liaison office of the central government in Hong Kong, cited potential threats to national security. 

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is one of them, which means none of its members is suitable to be Hong Kong’s next chief executive. They’re considered unpatriotic by Beijing.

Zhang said Beijing has no objections to Alliance members serving in Legco.

It was the first time a top mainland official had spelled out the selection criteria to Hong Kong pan-democrats. In response, they said Alliance members should not be labeled unpatriotic if they’re only promoting a democratic China.

Privately, Beijing’s leaders are worried about Alliance members being used by foreign powers to subvert the Communist Party through Hong Kong. 

Local politicians such as Anson Chan and Martin Lee have been voicing their concern over Hong Kong’s future to government officials in the United States and Britain.

However, there is no proof of foreign intervention in Hong Kong’s political affairs.

As many political commentators have said, a patriotic politician is no guarantee of national security.

No one would have questioned the patriotism of Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who is entangled in China’s biggest corruption scandal, and no one could know how he might have exposed the country to danger. 

The key to ensuring national security is transparency in the way the state deals with the public and the media.

And Beijing should stop badgering Hong Kong about it.

China’s  national security has nothing to do with Hong Kong’s democratic development, whose core lies in the healthy growth of its political systems and institutions and in Hong Kong people being allowed to enjoy the promised freedoms of “one country, two systems”.

The nation won’t implode just because Hongkongers have nominated and elected a leader of their own choosing.

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SC/JP/RA

EJ Insight writer

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