19 December 2018
Beijing will never agree to full-scale democracy in Hong Kong, given fears of separatism. Photo: Bloomberg
Beijing will never agree to full-scale democracy in Hong Kong, given fears of separatism. Photo: Bloomberg

If you can’t beat them, join them

Everybody knows that Beijing is unlikely to allow Hong Kong to have genuine democracy. It is because the “celestial empire” mentality still very much prevails among our Beijing leaders, under which they are always mindful of the danger of the possible rise of separatism on local levels.

When Beijing proposed “one country, two systems” back in the 1980s, it was in fact nothing more than a politically expedient move. According to Beijing’s plan, it could afford to wait until China becomes sufficiently rich and powerful, after which it can enforce political centralization again and bring Hong Kong to its knees.

Frustrated and disillusioned, many people and politicians in Hong Kong have resorted to radical means such as civil disobedience and filibustering in recent years in an attempt to stand up to Beijing and fight for more democracy. Unfortunately, their attempts have proven largely futile, and as a result, rather than making any progress, our society has ground to a complete economic and political stalemate.

So, is our bid for greater democracy really doomed? Well, maybe not.

Ironically, Hong Kong is unlikely to have real democracy under the “one country, two systems” principle, and the reason is simple: after President Xi Jinping tightened his grip on power following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), he is now working aggressively to impose “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.

However, the “iron fist” policy towards Hong Kong would definitely provoke widespread backlash among the territory’s citizens, who are desperate to preserve the “two systems”.

And in time, Beijing’s repression and the resulting backlash against it among the society are very likely to escalate into a hostile confrontation between Beijing and Hong Kong. The communist leaders would by no means grant us democracy given the fact that the cross-border political confrontation is so lopsided and asymmetrical.

Moreover, since Beijing neither understands nor shares western democratic values, it would never agree to practice full-scale democracy in Hong Kong, not to mention its grave concern that giving us more democracy could further fuel separatist sentiments in our city.

Besides, no one is going to lobby our Beijing leaders to allow us greater democracy. Under the current system, nor is there any party or state apparatus that is sympathetic to our cause. With no allies and sympathizers, how can we ever expect to achieve greater democracy on our own?

In my opinion, in order to achieve full and genuine democracy, Hong Kong should ditch “one country, two systems” and adopt “one country, one system” instead, under which the people of Hong Kong will cease being second-class citizens and become eligible for CPC membership.

And by working our way up the party leadership, perhaps one day a Hong Kong native could become the paramount leader of China and carry out sweeping democratization across the nation, including Hong Kong.

Hong Kong used to be in a position of strength vis-a-vis Beijing under the “one country, two systems”. However, as the economic power of China has been growing at a jaw-dropping rate in recent years, Hong Kong’s advantage and bargaining power have been quickly diminishing, and the city has become increasingly marginalized and pushed to the sidelines by Beijing.

Now, if we are to stand a good chance of advancing and achieving our democratic cause, it can only be done by integrating into the mainland and the communist party and changing it from within.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 11

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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