Thursday, June 29, 2017

“One Country, Two Systems” Is Not A Durable Formula To Sustain The Autonomy Of A Small Entity That Is Embedded In A Much Larger, More Powerful Entity

“One Country, Two Systems” is the formula negotiated by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s for the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China, effective July 1, 1997.  The formula established Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China, known as the HKSAR.  Deng’s “One Country, Two Systems” formula guaranteed the HKSAR a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.  China promulgated a “Basic Law”  for the HKSAR, which stipulated that Hong Kong’s social, economic, political, legal, and other institutions would remain in place unchanged, free from mainland interference, for 50 years.  China would only exercise authority in matters of defense and foreign relations.

July 1, 2017, marks the 20th anniversary of China’s resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong.  Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong to note the anniversary.

China has not fully honored its promise of autonomy.  Critics have cited many examples of mainland interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, which have impinged on freedom of speech, the press, publishing, assembly, education, elections, and other areas of policy that were to be the sole responsibility of the HKSAR government.  Some of the more important recent encroachments was published in the Washington Post on June 23, 2017, five days before President Xi’s visit.

It is worth reading the article in full, and dozens more that are readily found in a Google search.  Here I want to reproduce the closing paragraphs from the WP article that comment on the growing loss of autonomy and Hong Kong’s future prospects.

“As China needs Hong Kong less, the reverse is also true: Hong Kong has become almost entirely dependent on the mainland for its survival.
“Well more than half of Hong Kong’s exports end up in China, and a growing share of its bank loans are to Mainland Chinese customers. Tourism and retail spending from mainland visitors account for about 10 percent of Hong Kong’s economy, propping up the shopping malls and luxury boutiques. “Red chip” stocks from mainland companies make up more than 40 percent of the Hong Kong stock market’s capitalization. Students from Mainland China are filling spaces in Hong Kong universities. And the Mandarin language is heard increasingly here, even supplanting English as the second language for Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong.

“What we are seeing now is the mainlandization of Hong Kong. It’s the gradual absorption of Hong Kong by the new sovereign [much like the Borg assimilation of other species in Star Trek].  It’s the slow erosion of the separate culture and norms that have set it [Hong Kong] apart [from China in the past]. And it’s the incremental marginalization of Hong Kong in the Chinese economy.

“Since the Occupy protests [2014], China has shown an increasing propensity to meddle directly in Hong Kong’s affairs. Chinese security agents operating in Hong Kong have abducted book publishers, as well as a reclusive Chinese billionaire secluded in a five-star hotel, and spirited them back over the border for secretive interrogations. China’s rubber-stamp assembly has short-circuited the local judicial process by making rulings on Hong Kong laws — in one case banning two elected members of the legislature from retaking their oaths.

“After the handover on July 1, 1997, there was an assumption, or hope, that the “one country, two systems” formula negotiated in the 1980s by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher might actually be allowed to work. Hong Kong was promised full autonomy for 50 years, which in 1997 seemed a lifetime away.  “What few predicted was Hong Kong’s slow-motion mainlandization. Hong Kong and China have been converging — just not in the direction many of us thought.”

On the general point of smaller entities embedded in larger, more powerful ones, replace “Hong Kong” with “Centers” or “Institutes” that formerly existed as separate, autonomous entities, and replace “China” with the name of the particular “University,” in which they previously existed.
Perhaps the clearest example is the late Murray Weidenbaum’s Center For The Study of American Business, which published research quantifying the costs of business regulation on the American economy.  In the fifteen years since his retirement, the new director, a professor of political science hired from Minnesota, has transformed Murray’s conservative institute into a grant-making body for Washington University’s largely liberal faculty.  The study of business regulation now constitutes only a tiny fraction of the center’s annual budget.
Could this happen to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University?  Some think the process is well underway and it’s only a matter of another 5-10 years before Hoover loses its autonomy, and what remains of it’s conservative orientation.
There are some 90 centers and institutes embedded in other U.S. universities. (See Table 39, pp. 128-30)  Some are independent in name only as a way to raise funds to support programs within the university framework.  How many of the truly independent will ultimately be absorbed into their respective universities on financial or ideological grounds, especially if they have a separate endowment and raise their own annual funds?
Given the 90% Democrat/liberal orientation among the faculty and high-level administrators in leading U.S. universities, conservatives think tanks embedded in U.S. universities may have seen their better days.  The era of Ronald Reagan is largely over within the academy, although it continues to survive in independent think tanks with no university affiliation.

No comments :