Hong Kong ‘doomed to chaos’ if it follows Western-style democracy

Socioeconomic issues will then remain unresolved, mainland officials say

Hong Kong will be doomed to chaos if its political system cannot ensure patriots are firmly in charge, according to former and serving mainland officials in Beijing.

Wang Zhenmin, head of the Institute of State Governance and director of the Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Studies at Tsinghua University, yesterday said socioeconomic problems in the city would "never be solved" if it followed a Western democratic system.

"If Hong Kong imported the American or British style of democracy, we can imagine what Hong Kong would look like today and in the future: the chief executive would naturally be one of their people, with legislative and executive power, and even the governance over Hong Kong would be completely lost to them," Wang told a forum hosted by the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

He said if the city pursued that path, there would be repeated social upheaval and the political scene would be all "about elections". Wang now also heads the national security affairs department of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, the Post has learned.

The event comes a month after the Legislative Council election, the first since Beijing’s order that only patriots could contest seats. Most of the opposition camp’s former lawmakers or activists have either been jailed or remanded in custody for their participation in the 2019 protests or for activism, while some have fled overseas or quit politics.

The election attracted a record low turnout of 30.2 per cent and saw the pro-establishment camp sweep all but one seat.

Yesterday, the speakers doubled down on Beijing’s line that the overhaul had made the city "more democratic".

"Under ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong’s democracy would not be

Western-style, nor would it be mainlandised. This would be a new Hong Kong-style capitalistic democratic system," Wang said, referring to Beijing’s governing principle over the city.

Xu Ze, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said "both positive and negative experiences" in the city since the handover had "proved that if Hong Kong’s democratic system cannot ensure the city is governed by patriots, Hong Kong is destined for chaos".

"This was the conclusion the general secretary has come to after more than two decades since Hong Kong’s handover," he said, referring to President Xi Jinping.

Xu, now the president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the main reason for past chaos was the lack of societal consensus on political and legal issues.

"Among the stakeholders who enforce the Basic Law, and the so-called social elites, there were various biases and misconceptions about one country, two |systems," Xu said.

"Some people even spread fallacies that deliberately twisted the special administrative region’s foundation and constitutional order. These offered weapons of thought for the anti-China destabilisers to create trouble, and its great adverse impact was proved in Hong Kong’s colour revolution," he said in a reference to the 2019 protests.

In his speech, Wang said Beijing would continue to direct Hong Kong’s democratic development, to ensure the system could safeguard security, governance and the people’s livelihoods. "We must not lose order or peace because of democracy ... but we must not adopt a democratic system that does not monitor [those in power]. Criticisms that mean well remain necessary," he said.On the sidelines of the forum, Tian Feilong, executive director of the One Country Two Systems Legal Studies Centre under Beihang University’s law school, said universal suffrage for the election of the chief executive and lawmakers remained a goal as promised in the Basic Law.

But he said the city had to meet certain requirements first. "Some of the other aspects of governance in Hong Kong are still awaiting to be reformed, like in education,

media and in culture," Tian said.


Source:South China Morning Post [2022-01-11]



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