“Beijing plays on HK fears of chaos”

This story from the Straits Times has got to be one of the creepiest yet on Beijing’s browbeating the feisty SAR of Hong Kong. I found out about it from a post at Crooked Timber, and she puts it better than I can, so here it is:

Currently appearing in the Straits Times is one of the least compelling arguments I’ve ever heard. Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing stooges are running candidates in the geographical constituencies in the next election, as well as in the “functional” constituencies, which are decided by a small group of hand-picked voters. As the Straits Times dryly notes, “Pro-democracy candidates tend to sweep directly elected Legco seats [i.e., the geographical constituencies] because they enjoy support from the population.” Oh, that. But Mr. James Tien, chairman of the pro-government Liberal Party, thinks that should change.

Mr Tien said: ‘If the central government sees a willingness among Hong Kong people to vote too for conservative businessmen, it will then have more confidence in the territory and might allow Hong Kong people universal suffrage earlier than is otherwise the case.’

And Mr. Ma Lik, of the reassuringly-named Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (democratic in the “Democratic Republic of Congo” sense, it seems), agrees: ‘The central government would become more apprehensive about speeding up democratic development in Hong Kong if the democrats won a landslide victory.’

So, Beijing won’t let you vote, because they know you won’t vote the way they want. But, if you vote the way they want, maybe they’ll let you vote again later, and for more things, at which point you can…um…vote the way they want again, or risk the dreaded “instability”. If this is an advertisement for “one country, two systems”, then don’t expect to see Taiwan rushing to sign up.

Did you get the inanity (insanity?) of Mr. Tien’s quote?? If we in HK show China we are willing to vote for the people they want us to vote for, maybe they’ll let us vote.

Only in China, as I’m fond of saying.

The Straits Times piece highlights, among other things, the CCP’s charming tactic of smearing and discrediting Hong Kong liberals to “help make Hong Kong accept its ruling against direct elections.” I wonder if Karl Rove is consulting for them.

Update: I edited this post to clarify that Tien is an HK politician, not a CCP higher-up. Also, there’s a good reaction to the Crooked Timber post here.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

That Straits Times article is a nice summary of the lunacy going on in Hong Kong. (Though ST articles tend to be archived for pay-for-view in a short period of time.)

I’d recommend against the use of “liberals” though to describe the pro-universal suffrage group. The Liberal Party is the pro-business collaborators, who work with the powers-that-be (in this case Beijing and Tung Chee Hwa). The far left (or ultra-leftists) are the pro-Beijing DAB led by Ma Lik and Tsang Yok Sing. Ma Lik also made similar comments in SCMP to James Tien’s.

It’s Beijing’s rather silly attempts to sell their United Front in Hong Kong to Hong Kong voters prior to the Legco elections. For those that can, Register to vote prior to 16 May 2004!

May 9, 2004 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

Richard, it’s easy to make fun of it … but he’s probably right isn’t he?

This is not a Beijing-based member of the CCP telling people in HK what they have to do – this is the leader of a HK party which is looking for votes in HK. What is wrong with him saying “vote for us, because we’re more likely to get you full democracy”? You might not believe him, but I don’t see the problem with his logic.

May 9, 2004 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

David, James Tien is not interested in “full democracy”. The people The Liberal Party represents have come out quite firmly that “full democracy” for Hong Kong is a bad thing. They state quite clearly that “full democracy” will turn Hong Kong in to a “welfare state” (link to my commentary). Furthermore the Liberal Party wants to ensure that at least half of the Legco is returned by “the Functional Constituencies”. Ma Lik of the DAB has suggested (link to my commentary) has also suggested expanding the number of Legco seats returned by Functional Constituency. (And the NPC and SAR government have ruled out opening membership in the Functional Constituencies as per former HK Governor (and possible EU Presidential candidate) Chris “Fatty Pang” Patten. If you can arrange who gets to vote, it’s much easier to be assured of winning (burning some joss sticks to the ghost of Richard Daley).

May 9, 2004 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

David, I read it the way Tom did. Tien’s quote struck me as going counter to everything that suffrage is supposed to be about.

May 9, 2004 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Tom: I’m sure you’re right that he doesn’t really want full democracy (why we he be for something that will destroy his party?) – but that means you just don’t believe him when he says his party might bring it about.

I don’t see why what he says goes against any democratic principles though. He seems to be saying “If you vote for us, we’ll work WITH the CCP (not AGAINST it) to bring full democracy”.

Richard, you seem to be implying he is a senior CCP member who can control CCP policy – when he is in fact a HK politician who’s saying anything he can to get more votes.

May 9, 2004 @ 10:59 pm | Comment

David, I didn’t mean for it to sound that way. I’ll consider editing to be sure it’s not misleading.

May 9, 2004 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

But, David, this is a NPC party that works “with” people in the HK government to completely reverse and alter course on the move towards democracy.

May 10, 2004 @ 4:58 pm | Comment

hkreportage – Again, you’re just saying that you don’t believe him. I still maintain what he says makes logical sense, and (if you believed him) might even justify voting for him … A mighty big IF, I’ll grant you 🙂

May 10, 2004 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

Asia by blog

It’s time to see what’s what amongst Asian blogs. Richard and Crooked Timber show the kind of idiocy that passes for political discussion in Hong Kong. Another good reason the Liberals are destined for oblivion if universal sufferage ever arrives in HK…

May 10, 2004 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

I thought the hallmark of trust was that you made statements you could back up.

May 11, 2004 @ 6:39 am | Comment

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