Seventeen years since Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997, democratisation is still in stagnant water, and universal suffrage is still beyond Hongkongers' reach. But the time and tide have unified Hongkongers in pursuing democracy and genuine universal suffrage. At the moment, with constitutional reform in a pivotal stage, pro-Beijing politicians framed "genuine universal suffrage is tantamount to Hong Kong independence (HKI)". Some pan-democrats as well, afraid of the HKI accusation, insisted that "HKI is not an option. The only way out is to confront under the Two Systems." The problem is, if pro-China politicians, or even the Communist Party categorises genuine universal suffrage as HKI, presumably there will no longer be any space found for democracy in the gap between the Two Systems. In the end of the case, people will have no choice but to surrender the right of confrontation. By logical deduction, "yes man" is to be the one and only personality for oneself. Yet some Colonel Blimps from the pan-democratic side somehow unreasonably assumes that is referred to as "health". Ambitious were these people supporting Hongkongers to determine the future for themselves before 1997, but what are left in their hearts these days? capitulationism and defeatism. Allow me to remind the ones who are with democratic spirit, it takes decide-for-your-own-fate self-consciousness to succeed. We cannot afford another U-turn, and it is reform itself having the ability to lead us forward. As long as we are not going to forswear the ultimate dream democratising Hong Kong, for now on, we should expel the ideologically forbidden zone these people have set for HKI since the stance of HKI, irrelevant to the matter of self-determination, might still have chances clearing a path for democracy.
Thirty-three years left for 2047: Time is the key
Li Fei claimed publicly that the civil nomination stands for no legality. It reminds me of Hong Kong's Unique Road to Democracy (《香港的獨特民主路》), a recent book written by Lau Siu-kai, who is the vice-president of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies (CAHKMS), and also a pro-Beijing scholar. In the end of the book, there is a delivery of Beijing's "imperial edict" — "Based on my holistic analysis towards Hong Kong's democratic development, democratisation will eventually come someday. Yet it is noted that the endpoint will not be in the near future, and even if it does, Hong Kong will remain as a 'partially democratic' political entity. The reason lies in Hong Kong's nature – it will never be an independent state, but a region of China."
For some 200 pages, Lau insinuates that at the end of the day, Hong Kong will still hover without democracy, as it is tantamount to HKI. He even suggested that Hong Kong nowadays has already had its own democracy with "democratic centralism" characteristics. One will never be more surprise of what the CCP-employed "scholars" are going to say!. Yet, an invaluable insight will reveal when contrary thinking is adopted. According to Lau, after all, it is futile continuing the current track of democracy regardless of the time we spend. Then given the fact that Hong Kong is not an independent state, the day of democracy will not in any way arrive. That is to say, genuine universal suffrage being far-fetched to us is by going astray in the very first beginning. What the pan-democrats "fought for" were but mirage. No independence, no democracy.
Genuine democracy will not exist in an adoption of the Chinese-style, nor of the Hong-Kong-style. But assuredly the existence of Hong-Kong-style democracy does serve some purposes. Deng Xiaoping has once said,
"It will take another 30 to 50 years for China to approach a truly developed country, not surpass the ones at the peak. If we strictly implement the policy opening China to the rest of the world, then approximately within the first half of the next century, we will near the level of the developed countries. It is in China's vital interest to keep Hong Kong prosperous and stable. When we gave the figure of 50 years, we were not speaking casually or impulsively but in the consideration of the realities in China and of China's need for development."
The Basic Law is to be sound and valid merely for 50 years. According to Deng Xiaoping, the future of Hong Kong after 2047 depends on its worthiness to China by the time. Without a democratic system as safeguard, the future of Hong Kong will be under the swords of CCP. Democracy to Hongkongers is not some lofty ideal, but the only way out for survival, while the democratisation progress of Hong Kong has a time limit: 2047. The time is counting down every second. The CCP has continuously putting obstacles in front of our way to democracy, such as the distorted interpretation of the Basic Law, the ridiculously operated LegCo and so on. It is a must for Hongkongers to realise the problems and to seize the now-or-never moment for changes.
Political scientists Jennifer Gandhi and Adam Przeworski indicated that authoritarian regimes often in the name of so-called democratic institution extend the lifespan of the administration. Generally authoritarian regimes reign without the mandate from the public. To "solve" this problem, they co-opt the representatives from the opposition camp and the potential ones into specifically designed "cages". By blending the opposites, chances of revolutions against the regime are expected to go down. As a matter of fact, such nominally democratic institution is a vital nutrient for the regime— covering people's eyes, and impeding genuine democracy.
Now you see the reason for HKSARG to promote "pocket it first" from time to time or to crave support of their version of "universal suffrage". Such fake universal suffrage not only appeases the representatives from the opposition camp, but puts all Hongkongers into the artifice of the soi-disant "one-person-one-vote", so that the regime of HKSARG can be lengthened. It is simple: when one has accepted an institution, the one has become part of the institution. When Hongkongers accepted the "one-person-one-vote" by SARG, they become part of the evil regime. Beijing will be more than happy to see all Hongkongers converting as part of the stability-maintenance (weiwen) machine.
This strategy of the CCP has been functioning well. In the LegCo, confrontational tactics have long been used for decades, while the pan-democrats have been integrated with such ludicrous council. Lau Siu-kai made his satirical remark on the pan-dems confirming the fact:
"Although the opposition has long cast their doubts upon the legitimacy and lawfulness of the democratic system of Hong Kong and has constantly initiated campaign against the system, they have, to some extent, entered such establishment and have exercised the authority, status and remuneration endowed by such system. The opposition's determination certainly is not robust enough to overturn the existing system, not to mention most Hongkongers' unwillingness seeing this happens. As easily understood as it is, the democratic development will only be able to build upon the current foundation, and to reform in accordance with the special situation of Hong Kong. 'Democratisation with Hong Kong characteristics' will continually proceed in a relatively peaceful manner along the way. On the other hand the opposition will confront against it. Yet inevitablyit will have to 'face the reality', to surrender in seeking benefits for itself and to pursue their aspiration within the establishment."
The more reliance on the confrontation in legislature from the democratic powers, the more active the pan-dems participate in the LegCo election, and the happier the CCP will be — the CCP knows eventually the democratic powers will dissolve in the establishment. Magicians are best in playing tricks and revealing them. So do the Communists. Vladimir Lenin, a Russian communist revolutionary once said,
"Of course, anyone would be in error who voiced the outmoded viewpoint or in general considered it impermissible, in all and any circumstances, to reject participation in bourgeois parliaments."
Entering the parliament means to subvert the parliament, yet the pan-dems "subverted" themselves before subverting the parliament. After vetoing the fake universal suffrage proposal, these people should all resign immediately - the democratic powers trapped in the establishment should be brought to the street. This, is what makes the SARG fear!
The CCP has consumed 17 years of Hongkongers. To the present day, people are still arguing the meaning of "broadly representative", "nominating committee", "nominating with democratic procedure" and "universal suffrage" from Article 45 of the Basic Law. Recently CY Leung has a "brand new" discovery, as he said the character wui(translator's note: it is pronounced as the word "committee" in Chinese) means that there should be a "collective decision". I guess after this, they might even start arguing the meaning of "'s" and "of" in the Article, and CY may re-inerpret and redefine the significance of these words for the sake of everybody. Didn't you see? The SARG often uses the provisions in the Basic Law to hoodwink Hongkongers, and ironically some people do enjoy being tangled with wordings of the Basic Law. Yet they seem to forget the right of final adjudication belongs to Beijing, and they are simply wasting time during the process. It is Beijing but no one else. There is no room for discussion in the first place. Hongkongers, let's focus on democracy instead of these meaningless minor wordings. We surely cannot afford another delay on the matter.
Theories are the prostitutes for CCP: all decisions are based on political measures Recently, the pro-China camp often emphasise that China is a unitary nation without federation, so Hong Kong cannot implement a democratic universal suffrage without screening as any other independent political entities. But, by the sense of "HKI" and "independent political entity", both the CCP and SARG have not been settled with a straightforward definition, or deliberately leave the question unanswered.
The key hinges on whether screening-free universal suffrage for the CE and the entire LegCo is turning HK into an "independent political entity". Sometimes Lau Siu-kai says "Yes", sometimes "No". After all, "HKI" and "independent political entity" are nothing but excuses to discourage Hong Kong from getting genuine universal suffrage.
Theoretically, the UK is a unitary government as well. Still, why can Scotland have its own elected government? I bet the CCP-beloved scholars will respond as "Western theories and experience cannot be applied in China". Now, what about this: the CCP is still using its theory of "One Country, Two Systems" on Taiwan since 1980s, and Taiwan now owns its army and democratic system. If "One Country, Two Systems" cannot even accommodate democracy, then how can it solve the Taiwan issue? It is not a matter of Western theories at all. This is simply about logic. Unless China sees Taiwan as a Western country, or else such words are not even going to make any sense. As a matter of fact, the offering China has given Taiwan will allow Taiwan to keep its own army, government structure, personnel autonomy without sending officials to Taiwan [link: Only Chinese is provided], according to Qian Qichen. Max Weber defines "nation" as "the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force". "One Country" can allow armies from more than one district and so can Taiwan's political system be kept. Yet according to the logic of those from the pro-China camp, CCP is somehow allowing Taiwan independence! If Taiwan accepts "One Country, Two Systems", CCP allows it to have its own army and democratic system - isn't this an "independent political entity"? I wish those theorists can be further explained.
"Moreover, the Chinese Government acknowledges the differences between Taiwan on the one hand and Hong Kong and Macao on the other and, after peaceful reunification, is prepared to apply a looser form of the "one country, two systems" policy in Taiwan than in Hong Kong and Macao."
In this way, the framework of "Two Systems" can reach both extremes — be tightened or loosened. If there are more Taiwan independence supporters, it could be looser. Now Hong Kong has "returned to the hands of its motherland", it is a case tightening the practice of the principle. At the beginning, the CCP might still believe "Theories direct policies", but for long, it has put Marx and Lenin aside. To the CCP, theoretic problems are never regarded as problems and all of them can be tackled in a twinkle through politics and expediencies. Seeing that a communist party can work happily with capitalists, you will quickly learn the fact that to them, there is no theories cannot be dealt with. All theories are "rectified" by the scholars according to their masters' orders. When the decision changed at the top, the theories will "rectify" themselves at the bottom. If the CCP allow genuine democracy in Hong Kong due to some certain situation, these theorists under the CCP will follow orders.
Democracy and Localism against Communist Party
Among all points made by Lau Siu-kai, I in fact agree with one. The democratisation of Hong Kong has not been stimulated by anti-colonialism or independence movement, but rather developing within the "non-independence" political framework. He writes,
"The lack of anti-colonialism and independence movement cause a lack of infrastructure of mass mobilisation in the Hong Kong's democratic movement ."
Yet, the analysis might be right at this moment, but not necessarily true forever. When Beijing shuts the gate of genuine universal suffrage in 2017, so the dream of many Hongkongers broken. There will come the shape-as-sword determination of the HKI movement. A sword has two edges - one edge is from a cultural perspective (defending local characteristics); another edge is from a political perspective (fighting for democracy). The tip of such sword will be the demand of Hong Kong independence, and the amount of mobilised mass would be unprecedented. This might have chances to "turn the chessboard around".
These are not daydreams. Even though most Hongkongers do not support independence, the main concern is just this one: Hong Kong cannot be an independent entity as there are economic constraints. These Hongkongers (especially youngsters) do not hold a Greater Unity view, and assume "HK and China must be inseparable". Benedict Anderson, a nationalism theorist, said the emergence of nationalism is often linked to the feeling of being humiliated. When Hongkongers felt their benefits and culture are being eroded, and their dream for democracy no longer exists, what cannot be possible? Indeed, without numerous support, it will be hard to achieve HKI. Here, imagine another extreme: When will it be like if most Hongkongers feel the need of HKI? How different will the path be? Lu Xun says, "Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many pass one way, a road is made." In 1947, originally the 2/28 incident in Taiwan is not relevant at all with Taiwan independence, but people in the incident were framed by the KMT government as separatists and "schematic subversion". 2/28 then somehow became the main reason of TW Independence. Now that the establishment camp attempt to link up democracy in HK with HKI, someday they might regret of their actions.
Just as I was about to finish, I recalled a chapter in Lao-Tzu's Tao-te-ch'ing:
"(The attribute of humility)What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down- flowing (stream); - it becomes the centre to which tend (all the small states) under heaven.(To illustrate from) the case of all females: - the female always overcomes the male by her stillness.Stillness may be considered (a sort of) abasement.Thus it is that a great state, by condescending to small states, gains them for itself; and that small states, by abasing themselves to a great state, win it over to them.In the one case the abasement leads to gaining adherents, in the other case to procuring favour. The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them; a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other.Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase itself."
Hidden in our own culture, this is explicitly the essence of "One Country Two Systems".