16 December 2014

Choi Chun-wai: HK-China Relationship in Post-Occupy Era

Hong Kong-China Relationship in Post-Occupy Era
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Karen L. and Poppy, Written and edited by Sam Choi Chun-wai 蔡俊威, Chinese version edited by Fong Hiu-ying 方曉盈, Originally on Ming Pao (This article was published on 7th Dec 2014)
Original: Pentoy 

(Photo: Passion Times)
When the occupy movement reaches an end, the focus seems to be blurred. Police is again utilised as a tool to solve political problems, and the main theme switched from political reform to police-public confrontation - the happiest third party would be CY Leung and his cabinet. Under such circumstance, Hong Kong has become more "messy", and thus someone will be much more trusted by Beijing. Since the "conversation" with the students, the authorities have started to stop defending, and start attacking. In terms of political reform, the government does not need to think too much. The authorities smeared at such political campaign that the world is watching. Looking at the disintegration of such campaign, it just did unveil the disguise of respect.

What is more important is that: the moment the focus is blurred, the moment HK-China relationship has entered a Post-Occupy Ice Age. China will impose more radical policies, and so things will get worse. To Hong Kong, Beijing has a love-and-hate-and-scared attitude. Love: Hong Kong is a tool for China to develop; Hate: many Hongkongers' minds have never been "unified"; Hate: the political power and awareness in Hong Kong might enter China, faltering the authoritarian regime. Now, Beijing feels Hongkongers are not "obedient", therefore Beijing wants to accelerate in the speed of "reunification of Hong Kong". CCP will not mind to use the worse tactic: "to grab Hong Kong in its hand, never mind forsaking the "old Hong Kong"."

War on Ideologies

It is an ideological problem at the end of the day. Therefore, as the first step, in the forseeable future, China will enlarge and enhance such front struggle and turn it into a long-term war. The strategic order on cultural front of CCP, "strengthening our on base and occupy others' bases as well", will be extremely followed. Oversea Version of People's Daily once issued an article, saying "'Anti-road-occupation' is just only the prelude of the struggle, and 'anti-Occupy-Central' is a long-term war in decades and decades." The clearance of the police is just a palliative way, and the root is the ideological scramble (to strengthen the understanding of HK-China relationship based on Beijing's interpretation, and grab the right to re-interpret on the Western values which are deep-rooted in Hongkongers' minds), including "requiring the entire members of public in Hong Kong to reacquaint "One country, two systems" and the "Basic Law", and to recognise the importance of being national sovereignty, safety and development as Chinese citizens, and the rights and duties of the public."

The ideological war can be achieved through certain ways:

Education: Dyed in Red

First, Beijing will embark on education. They will snatch the dominance in reinterpreting the history and core values of Hong Kong.
Ideologically, how the knowledge is produced and transmitted can be a threat and a weapon. Knowledge and information can alter the recognition of the public towards the society, the world, the politics and HK-China relationship In education, the regime will relentlessly get the current education system down.

In achieving this goal, Beijing will further "change" the school and civic education in Hong Kong. The Liberal Studies (LS) in NSS is criticised to be the culprit to make the students be pan-politicisation and to provost the occupation. Some pro-Chinese groups and LegCo members have already listened to the orders, and suggested to "revise" or even to cut down the LS subject, not to mention adding more "materials allowing students to learn more about One Country, Two Systems and our motherland". Even, the Education Bureau has to adopt a less politically sensitive translation on the term "critical thinking", from 批判性思考 to 明辨性思考 (Translator's note: The former one has more 'criticising' meaning, the later one has more 'distinguishing rights and wrong' meaning. Anyway, such revision is the result of Regina Ip's question in LegCo).

The more critical field is actually on the tertiary education and academia - places where knowledge is genuinely produced and transmitted. Few years ago, Joseph Lian Yi-zheng, a Hong Kong scholar and columnist on HKEJ,  mentioned such concern, which aroused certain discussions then. Undeniably, CCP already started in this field. More and more Chinese scholars entered tertiary education institutions, undermining the productivities of Hongkong-based knowledge (and undeniably, there are Chinese scholars who are Hongkong-based). The phenomenon of mainlandisation of Hong Kong society actually took place much earlier in the academia. As the breeding ground of ideologies and places with academic freedom, the tertiary education has "turned red", to some extent. It is said that employing overseas returnees, or haigui, mainland scholars should be put on the first priority, and there will be a lot of "funds for study" in order to keep them here. On the contrary, the local scholars have less "lebensraum" in their studies. Recently, some scholars in China even condemned tertiary education in Hong Kong is much "pan-politicised" (Translator's note: Don't look at me, it just means politicised, but Chinese people loves getting simple things complicated), and that implies Beijing wants to suppress the teaching-and-learning of the "political side of Hong Kong". Lian even pointed out the "Party branch secretary" ruling universities might be within a stone's throw. We might refer to the experience in Macau (Translator's note: the rector of University of Macau, Zhao Wei 趙偉, is the only university chief in Hong Kong and Macau who comes from Mainland China). Once we look at the staff establishment of the faculties, the mainlandisation problem is a worse case - this is the key.

Besides culling the local knowledge production, these people also rely on the interlocking ecological pyramid. On the students side, according to the University Grant Committee (UGC), under the internationalisation policy for local tertiary institutions, UGC-funded institutions can allow 20% non-local students, including China and overseas, to take bachelor degree courses, and there are no restrictions for graduate school courses. In the past three academic years, around 80% post-graduates come from China. It is often discussed that the reason for mainlandisation is the plunge of local applicants, and therefore graduate schools take up more Chinese students. But if local scholars are no longer cherished, then due to various reasons including political ones, their upward mobility is halted, and therefore the ecological pyramid breaks down. Don't we need to face the origin of such problem? In humanities subjects, the case is worse. Less and less projects are Hongkong-based. It means universities, which supposed to be our base for academic study, no longer aim at nurturing intellectuals who have Hong Kong roots. Now, it is often said that Beijing lost the confidence of the entire generation Y of Hong Kong. But if we lose the knowledge generation which is based on Hong Kong (including how and what to write in the history of Hong Kong), then we will lose the autonomy of interpreting Hong Kong. And if we lose our subjective consciousness, we will lose each and every generation of Hongkongers.

Infiltration of United Front in Creating Conflicts

Secondly, Beijing will create more conflicts though abundant of infiltration of united front. Many highly-orchestrated people join the script of anti-occupy Central since the idea of Occupy Central has been mentioned. What we learn from history is that the more people being orchestrated, the more torn and bipolar the society is. In the post-occupy era, Beijing will further pit parties against one another, and more groups in both sides (pro/against China) will be formed. We can see that when the new generation is so ‘reactionary’, Beijing will capitalise youth issues to organise united front tactic in order to create a new generation that complies with Beijing.

Besides the united front, a "closer" population integration policy also helps to speed up the establishment of a new generation and vote rigging. We cannot ignore the Beijing’s infiltration of professionals. Without a doubt, there are plenty of mainlanders who live in Hong Kong consider the interest of Hong Kong the most important. But looking back at the strategy Beijing to Hong Kong, we cannot rule out the possibility of China infiltrating Hong Kong. The famous ‘Tsang Siu-fo case’ proved that the Communist party is good at infiltration. During the 50s, Tsang was a reliable officer in the police force and one of the first ethnic Chinese to be promoted to Scotland Yard to receive special training. He made it to Assistant Superintendent of Police within 11 years and worked in 'Special Branch' (Hong Kong’s CIA). He was also selected as a bodyguard for the then-governor of Hong Kong, Sir Grantham. Such elite has been found to be a spy inside police and British military Hong Kong to gather colony and British military intelligence for the Chinese government. Now, with policies allowing mainland Chinese students staying in Hong Kong after studies, those who listen to Beijing will further percolate into the sectors of education, law, finance, medical and other professionals, and even take part in Hong Kong’s politics.

Construct An Instinct of Self-censorship

Thirdly, a phenomenon of trepidation is about to breed in Hong Kong – self-censorship. Aside from education, moulding a social voluntariness of self-restraint is another example towards the spitefulness of ideological struggle. During the occupy movement, farces with citizens "pledging allegiance" are staged in turn. Be it forced or otherwise, all the personages among billionaires and businessmen have to declare their political status. In the predictable future, this allegiance culture will not settle with civil servants sitting on the rail. Only will those robots leaning to the party's favour survive. A considerate number of disciplinary forces and service departments have publicly stated their support for the government during the time, revealing the discomforting direction of politics in the mist. This might be a loophole for Beijing to politicise the whole bureau in Hong Kong.

What is worse lies in Hongkongers' inner fear of repercussions declaring "incorrect" political statement. Such highly infectious virus originated among the public figures, and then spread to the professionals. To the present day, it has already started to breed among the commoners. Many citizens are frightened of being "banned", or "literary inquisition" (not only being illegal, but also being labelled by Chinese authorities). Some even worry that their personal information will be sent to mainland China, or thus be blacklisted. Dithering comes first when deciding to file reasonable complaint against those ruffianly police's attack on civilians.

Déjà vu, is it? When we hear mainland Chinese dare not say anything under frequent suffering of injustice, we can't help but wonder. Yet it is an instinct developing naturally under the life in authoritarian state. In the minds of mainland Chinese, continuously do they consider "Big Brother is watching you" in making every decision, including the slightest ones. Such worriment is rather natural indicating that the program of self-censorship has been rooted in their minds. In the now of Hong Kong, it shows footprints of white terror that is supposed to exist only in authoritarian states. Undoubtedly Beijing will oversee its proliferation to exclude possibility of malfunction. All of these come down to the very question we have to think through – if it goes in Beijing's way, how will Hong Kong become in the Post-Occupy Era?

The CCP Has Unveiled The Disguise of Respect

Maria Tam, a member of the Committee for the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, once said that the autonomous right of Hong Kong SAR is just slightly higher than that of the those Autonomous regions in mainland China.

Wang Lixiong, a specialist in the Tibetan sovereignty debate, also shared his view on "One Country, Two Systems" in an interview based on the CCP's administration experience in Tibet, that the "Two Systems" has always been an expediency during transition, and never does the respect for the people involve.

It will be a no-going-back mono-route once the CCP can have full control over Tibet with assurance. What post the disturbing atmosphere is that both the CCP's officials and the state-owned media started to respond voices from Hong Kong society with disdainfulness since the 1 July protests in this year. Those used-to-be formulae, such as "we respect the compatriots from Hong Kong to express themselves freely" and "their request should be heard", are no longer on the table. Cutting to the chase, the CCP has unveiled the disguise of respect.

This hostile nation against anyone getting in the way. For the sake of its rise, it by all means achieve this goal. Some online posts in mainland China websites show that one of the views people there have for the big-scale outbreak of the occupy movement, is "an act of conspiracy between some international powers against China and some local powers which look for resuming colonial Hong Kong". While Beijing, without a trace of hesitation, announced that Sino-British Joint Declaration has been nullified, it is time for us all to ponder what should the HK-China relationship be during the subsequent post-occupy era.

In Beijing's eyes, it is the love-hate system in Hong Kong that interferes with its rise. As mentioned above, it is necessarily straightforward that Beijing will in various ways eradicating British "brainwashing-and-trust-winning" construction of political culture – Hong Kong's existing system, culture, knowledge and value on the battle field of ideology.

It is the collapse of rites and music that fears Hongkongers the most. Take the 50-million-scandal man. Before the issue can be settled rightfully, the spirit of integrity has been "fixed". Added with Carrie Lam's defending as "The concept of "asset" is not clarified in the Basic Law" in the LegCo, there seems nothing left in the system anymore.

The Loss of Rebellion Sense Kills Room for Democracy

In analysing the post-Occupy era, it is not my aim to propose localism or to draw a clear line between insiders and outsiders. The article serves as a reminder that politics does not only confined to the political system.

The occupy movement purely intends to fight for the democracy of the system. No matter what the outcome be, it is inevitable that the post-occupy era will come to us afterwards. By the time, it will be Beijing's turn to play, yet everybody should know that her game, which we referred as "war" has never limited to the political system. Her ideal is to adopt full ideological struggle in Hong Kong.

If we only focus on one aspect, everything will be in vain if we lose other battles even we obtain democracy. The tug-wars between Hong Kong and China are in all fields. There are numerous examples for this: Puerto Rico was granted democracy and autonomy but their economy, education, culture and ideology were emasculated by the United States. Catalonia excels Spain in culture and economy but the water supply was once cut by Francoist Spain. Without water, autonomy is hard to achieve even for a strong region. Why did the Cross Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) cause such a student movement in Taiwan? Because the people are afraid Taiwan would get too close with China and no longer have their autonomy. The obedient Macau is ruined in its original economy and ecosystem. Beijing is directly governing it without a scintilla of worry.

Under such era, there is no doubt that Beijing would fight more vigorously in ideology. If we lose the ability, willingness or awareness to defend, democracy will be nothing but a dream.

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