24 April 2019
Bao Tong (inset) says he doesn't know what the Hong Kong government is prepared to do in the face of the student protests. Photo: HKEJ
Bao Tong (inset) says he doesn't know what the Hong Kong government is prepared to do in the face of the student protests. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong doesn’t deserve fake universal suffrage: Bao Tong

Bao Tong, a close aide of former premier and Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, said there are similarities between Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, but said today’s leaders must prove that they are different from the Beijing officials who authorized the bloody crackdown on students 25 years ago.

“There are some similarities [between the two movements]. The students and public [of Hong Kong] have demands for the administration, which is similar [to what happened at Tiananmen]. As for the leadership [of the movement], I am not clear about whether the current leaders and the leaders back then are one thing or two different things. I can’t judge on this,” Bao, 81, told the BBC in an interview. 

He said the Hong Kong students should perhaps withdraw from their campaign for now, adding that he doesn’t know what the current Hong Kong leadership may do next should the protests continue.

“Every possibility exists. I don’t know what the administration is prepared to do,” he said.

Bao, who still lives in Beijing, has been under house arrest for a long time for his close association with Zhao, who had been purged for supporting the 1989 student movement.

He said the central government was sincere when it promised universal suffrage for Hong Kong some 20 years ago.

“The concept of a fake universal suffrage has not been invented back then. I have no doubt that if Zhao Ziyang was still alive, he would tell me that universal suffrage is universal suffrage, one that is recognized universally, and not of Chinese characteristics,” he said.

Supporting Hong Kong people’s call for genuine universal suffrage, Bao said he hopes China’s top leadership would make a decision that complies with the principle of “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”, and not “Hong Kong people not ruling Hong Kong, or non-Hongkongers ruling Hong Kong”.

He said the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was sincere in his promise of “one China, two systems” for the territory.

If they make the wrong decision and make Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong a fake one, does that mean they have decided to make [the decision of] Deng Xiaoping a fake one too?” Bao asked.

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