Xi lowers the boom on Hong Kong.Dec 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 14 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
With the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing safely over and regional leaders departed, China’s new strongman Xi Jinping decided to lower the boom on Hong Kong. Police there began clearing the barricades last week from the city’s main thoroughfare with the students in apparent retreat. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, widely perceived as Beijing’s puppet, was quoted by Reuters as promising “resolute action” and warning students not to return to occupation sites. The students’ Occupy Central movement arose this summer after Beijing’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced a pre-screening of candidates for the 2017 Hong Kong chief executive election. This was a blatant interference in the “one country, two systems” formula that promised Hong Kong a degree of local autonomy after the Chinese takeover in 1997.
On December 1, Voice of America reported that “hundreds of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters clashed with police,” but “hundreds of riot police armed with pepper spray and batons pushed back, injuring several protesters. . . . Scores of volunteer medics attended to numerous injured, some who lay unconscious and others with blood streaming from head gashes. Police said at least 40 arrests were made.” One could almost hear the strains from Les Misérables: Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? / Somewhere beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?
So what happens for Hong Kong when tomorrow comes? What of the pledges in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the constitutional guarantees contained in the Basic Law that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would continue “to enjoy a high degree of autonomy except for foreign and defence affairs. It shall be allowed to have executive, legislative and independent judicial power”? Beijing gave its response when, according to a BBC report, the Chinese embassy informed a group of British MPs seeking to conduct an inquiry into the situation in the former crown colony that they would be denied entry into Hong Kong.
A major Beijing propaganda theme in attempting to deny the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong is that outside agitators, chiefly from the United Kingdom and the United States, are behind the wave of unrest. China’s government mouthpiece, the Global Times, editorialized earlier this fall that “the more [extremists] count on support from Washington and London, the more absolutely they will fail.” President Obama was put on the defensive on Hong Kong by his Chinese hosts at the APEC summit. In a joint press conference with Xi Jinping, Obama declared, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, “On the issue of Hong Kong, I was unequivocal in saying to President Xi that the United States has no involvement in fostering the protest that took place there.”
Xi responded with a stern warning that “Hong Kong affairs are exclusively China’s internal affair, and foreign countries should not interfere in those affairs in any form or fashion.” Still, as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel pointed out in congressional testimony on December 3, the United States continues to have extensive commercial interests in Hong Kong, with more than 1,400 American companies investing there and with Hong Kong alone still representing the ninth-largest market for U.S. exports. But these economic ties alone cannot resolve political questions.
The political uncertainty hanging over Hong Kong is, of course, nothing new. In December 2004, while en route to the city, veteran congressman Henry Hyde succinctly summarized its ongoing dilemma. “The danger,” he observed, “is that Hong Kong will end up being just another Chinese city.” Hyde expanded on his concerns in a speech there. He observed: “Whether or not the people of Hong Kong and the government in Beijing wish or even recognize it, the unique status and relative freedom of this former crown colony have made it the preeminent testing ground of the possibilities of China’s political evolution, the most difficult and important test being whether greater freedom and democracy can be made compatible with the regime’s insistence on order and stability.”
10:31 AM, Oct 28, 2014 • By ELLEN BORK
On Sunday, the leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy protests abruptly scrapped a poll of protester sentiment they had announced just days earlier. The idea of the poll had been to get protesters’ reactions to two bones thrown to them by the Hong Kong government in televised talks held on October 21.
11:44 AM, Oct 20, 2014 • By ELLEN BORK
Representatives of the student led democracy protests in Hong Kong are due to enter into a dialogue with the Hong Kong government on Tuesday. The prospects for success are not good. The two sides are far apart, with the government saying it will not even discuss the protesters’ chief demand – the democratic election of the chief execut
Who stands with Hong Kong’s democrats?Oct 20, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 06 • By ELLEN BORK
On the evening of Saturday, October 4, enormous crowds gathered in downtown Hong Kong at the main site of the democracy protests that have dominated the affairs of this city of 7.2 million for weeks. They filled an eight-lane thoroughfare in the center of the Admiralty business district, spilling out around the adjacent government office complex. Banners hanging from overpasses demanded democracy and denounced the deeply unpopular, Beijing-appointed chief executive, CY Leung.
The people of Hong Kong want a real say.Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By CLAUDIA ROSETT
Should it matter to the rest of us that Hong Kong has erupted this past week with demonstrations for democracy? China’s rulers say this is an internal matter. Western leaders, while expressing concern, seem inclined to agree.
Sep 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 01 • By ELLEN BORK
Beijing has dealt another setback to democracy in Hong Kong. On Sunday, August 31, China’s central government dashed hopes that the chief executive, the top official responsible for the city of 7.2 million people, would be democratically elected in 2017. Rather than open nominations to anyone, including pro-democracy candidates, Li Fei, an official of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, announced that candidates for the top job will need the support of at least 600 members of a 1,200-person committee composed largely of pro-Beijing businesspeople and other allies.
Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By ELLEN BORK
Over half a million people filled the streets of Hong Kong on July 1, marching for democracy on the anniversary of the British colony’s handover to Chinese Communist rule in 1997. On June 29, an unofficial referendum organized by democracy activists concluded with 800,000 votes cast—more than one-tenth of Hong Kong’s population. The overwhelming majority supported a democratic election for Hong Kong’s next chief executive.
2:25 PM, Apr 15, 2014 • By ELLEN BORK
At the beginning of this month, two prominent Hong Kong democracy advocates visited Washington to seek America’s support.
A modest proposal for the new Fed chairman. Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
It's been more than a week now and I’m beginning to suspect she’s not going to call, so here I will offer Janet Yellen the advice I’ve been hoping to give her privately since the Senate confirmed her as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve. My advice is: Think about John Cowperthwaite. By this I mean: Really think about
12:01 PM, Jun 28, 2013 • By ELLEN BORK
Obama administration officials may be upset that China intervened to help NSA leaker Edward Snowden leave Hong Kong but they shouldn't be surprised. Beijing has intervened before to get its way on matters that were meant to be the purview of Hong Kong's independent judicial system and to stymie the territory's democracy movement.
12:46 PM, Jun 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Speaking about Hong Kong's decision to let NSA leaker Edward Snowden leave, without handing him over to American authorities, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that "we find their decision particularly troubling." Carney added that their decision "unquestionably has a negative impact" on U.S.-Hong Kong relations, and called it a "setback."