The future of the sovereignty of Hong Kong rests with us

May 20, 2015 15:45
Hong Kong's rights under the Basic Law were granted in exchange for recognition of China's sovereignty, but the Communist Party has broken its promise to let the city develop its democratic system. Photo: Bloomberg

The opposition doesn’t recognize or respect the authority of Beijing, Lau Siu-kai said at a seminar Saturday.

The emeritus professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong went on to argue that the power of Beijing to appoint our chief executive is both solid and decisive.

In other words, election results obtained under universal suffrage in Hong Kong would only provide a "reference" for the central government to decide whether to appoint the elected candidate.

Therefore, Beijing has to make sure that the election results must be “predictable”.

But Lau’s argument only applies to the past.

It might have been true that Hongkongers didn’t have a say in our own affairs and that Beijing dominated our democratization process.

Yet things have changed since the Umbrella Revolution, and Beijing’s dominance is already over.

Now it is the people of Hong Kong who take center stage and decide our own destiny.

The key to such change lies in the growth of awareness among our fellow citizens but not in their trust toward the autocrats in Beijing.

In fact, the people of Hong Kong have misplaced their trust in the leaders in Beijing for the past 30 years, and that trust came to an end when Beijing went back on its words with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee's Aug. 31 decision.

Finally, the people of Hong Kong have awoken to the cruel reality and are determined to regain the right to decide our own future.

In the past, Hongkongers remained wimpy even when their rights were being infringed.

To make matters worse, we relied on a bunch of hypocritical social and political activists to safeguard our civil rights.

These people were good at nothing but abusing our trust and shouting empty slogans.

By continuing to deceive the public, these hypocrites managed to gain a monopoly on the leadership of social movements, and I refer to them as the “evil force of democracy”.

For years they have pretended to be the personification of freedom and democracy and continued to take advantage of the public mandate.

However, their days are numbered, as times have changed and the growth among the public of an awareness of their civil rights has led to the rise of a whole new generation of young and valiant social activists who are not afraid to stand in the front line of political movements and who are determined to regain their own future and the sovereignty of their beloved city.

The social movements in Hong Kong might be on a bad streak for the time being, but morale still remains as high as ever.

Not every Hongkonger is aware of his or her own strength and capability to make a difference, but that is not important.

For as long as they continue to keep the movement alive by fighting for their rights bravely and with confidence, the outcome can be mind-blowing, like what happened on Sept. 28 in Admiralty, and on Oct. 3 and 17 in Mong Kok last year.

Hong Kong has always had the right to issue its own currency, the right to manage its own finances, and full autonomy as long as it is not against the interests of its suzerain.

The Basic Law took it one step further by offering us the power of final adjudication and an electoral system.

These rights come not as a kind of reward granted by the central government but as a promise under a social contract signed by Beijing in exchange for our recognition of its suzerainty.

It was only after Beijing had reiterated time after time that it would allow Hong Kong people to rule Hong Kong and develop its democracy that we finally agreed to return to China.

It is the Communist Party that is breaking its promise today, and therefore we have every reason to stand up and fight for the sovereignty to which we are entitled.

As long as Hong Kong's people pluck up our courage and stand up against Beijing, we will be able to decide our own future.

This article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 19.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist