In no uncertain terms, China’s top legislator stated the bottom line for Hong Kong — oppose Communist Party rule at your own risk.
Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress, recently told visiting Hong Kong legislators that Beijing is lax with Hong Kong in many areas but it will not tolerate any attempts to subvert the ruling party.
That is perhaps the biggest reason Beijing wants to tighten its grip on Hong Kong’s democratic process. It sees a more democratic Hong Kong under a liberal-minded leader as a little more than a pain on the side of the Communist Party.
In that context, Beijing’s proposed election framework for the 2017 chief executive election, which gives a loyalist screening committee control over who gets elected as Hong Kong’s next leader, is easier to understand.
So is Occupy Central, the student movement and a growing section of civil society opposed to Beijing’s direct interference in Hong Kong’s political affairs despite the guarantees promised by “one country, two systems”.
Zhang’s remarks to a group of politicians from the New People’s Party emerged as Hong Kong students began a week-long class boycott on Monday to protest the election framework.
A wider protest by Occupy Central, expected on Oct. 1, China’s national day, will bring things to a head when demonstrators blockade the main business and financial district.
Meanwhile, the political standoff between pro-democracy groups and the pro-establishment camp over the election proposal is expected to continue.
Beijing has said it’s not going to change its mind and pan-democrats in the Legislative Council have vowed to oppose the measure when it comes up for a vote.
It needs two-thirds majority to pass and not without the support of pan-democrats.
The bigger issue for Beijing is not so much local politics as Hong Kong people’s worldview.
Zhang was quoted as saying that Hong Kong should abandon its western thinking and learn to live with the fact that it’s part of China and that China is ruled by the Communist Party.
Granted Hong Kong people have come around to embracing the motherland, they will not so easily shed their cherished values like dirty clothing.
Freedom of choice and expression are two of them, both of which are impossible to square with one-party rule.
Hong Kong people can expect their government to toe the line regarding these issues.
The latest example is the government’s handling of a planned national day march for universal suffrage by Civil Human Rights Front from Victoria Park to Central.
The government denied its organizers a rally permit, saying only that Victoria Park had been booked for other national day events.
The march had been seen as a prelude to the Occupy Central sit-in, as happened after the July 1 democracy rally which ended with an overnight vigil in Central, resulting in dozens of arrests.
– Contact us at [email protected]