Despite the fact that the 2017 chief executive race is a small circle election, it is significant because Beijing’s choice of a person for the job will serve as an indication of whether its policy toward Hong Kong has changed.
Unfortunately, I believe things are likely to worsen in the days ahead, with Beijing likely to tighten its grip on Hong Kong in order to curb the rise of separatism.
In the eyes of Beijing, the results of a Legco by-election in March was proof that separatism is gaining momentum, hence its heavy-handedness in barring pro-independence activists from running in the Legco elections in September.
And the recent oath-taking saga sparked by the Youngspiration duo only further convinced Beijing that separatism constitutes an imminent threat to its sovereignty.
Whether a candidate will eagerly and effectively suppress separatism will be an important criterion for Beijing when choosing our next leader.
On the other hand, Beijing is likely to give overwhelming priority to “one country” over “two systems” and interfere in our internal affairs more actively in the days ahead.
In recent years, Beijing has been increasingly dismayed at the lack of patriotism among the people of Hong Kong and their emphasis on “two systems” rather than “one country”.
Impatient with our continued defiance, Beijing is determined to stem the tide by tightening its control on us.
Even though Beijing is yet to make up its mind over the choice for the next chief executive, one thing is certain — it is going to toughen its stance in the coming days. What happened in the past five years has convinced officials that things in Hong Kong have spun out of control.
The problem is, a hard-line approach might work in the short run. In the long run, it might undermine the unique characteristics of Hong Kong.
Once these unique characteristics are gone, our competitiveness and values as an international financial hub will also vanish.
A Hong Kong that only stresses the convenience of “one country” while ignoring the advantage of “two systems” is not in the best interests of Beijing.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov.1
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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