Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hong Kong People Vote Overwhelmingly For Freedom And Democracy, Repudiating Pro-China Establishment Politicians and Business Elites

On November 24, 2019, Hong Kongers went to the polls to elect 452 members who serve on 16 District Councils.  Turnout was 71% compared with 47% in 2015.  Compared with 2015, Pro-democracy candidates won 388 seats (+262), Pro-Beijing candidates 59 seats (-239), and Unaligned candidates 5 seats (-2).  Pro-democracy candidates won a majority in 15 of the 16 District Councils (+15).

On March 29, 2019, China’s hand-picked Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her appointed Councilors published an Extradition bill in the Legislative Council, which would allow the Hong Kong Government to extradite Hong Kong residents to China for trial. Hong Kongers first demonstrated two days later and continued demonstrating every week demanding the bill be withdrawn.  Hong Kongers know the difference between the Anglo-American “rule of law” and Chinese-Communist tyranny.

To put 2019 in perspective, Britain transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China at the stroke of midnight on June 30, 1997.  The demonstrations broke out three months before the 22nd anniversary of the handover.  This means that every Hong Konger under 22 years of age had not lived under British administration.  Everyone under 32 was aged 10 and under in the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).  Everyone 40 years and under was no more than a teenager under British administration.

Amazingly, the youth of Hong Kong led the demonstrations.  The Joint Declaration and Basic Law of Hong Kong promised that Hong Kong people would govern Hong Kong, and that Hong Kong would maintain its separate social, economic, and political systems unchanged for 50 years to 2047.  In Xi Jinping’s worldview, Hong Kongers were supposed to welcome Chinese sovereignty.  Instead, they waved British and American flags, defaced the Communist Party’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, and burned Chinese flags.

Let me repeat this.  Hong Kongers with little or no experience living under British rule clamored for the maintenance of British institutions.  They want universal suffrage which they were promised.  They want Western law and order.  They want private property, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and all the other Western freedoms stipulated in the Basic Law.  Hong Kong voters repudiated the Chinese Communist Party.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam is tone deaf.  She reluctantly withdrew the proposed Extradition bill on October 23, 2019, after nearly six months of demonstrations.  Had she withdrawn it immediately, calm might have been quickly restored. Following the huge victory of the Pro-democracy candidates, she has again displayed tone deafness, only wanting to dialogue with the protestors.  Let’s face it.  She is a toady, having no authority except what Beijing allows her to exercise.  Her best option is to go abroad for medical care and not return.

Beijing’s best option is to restore the spirit and letter of the Joint Declaration and Basic Law and wait out the 50 years of autonomy until July 1, 2047.  Why provoke the world over a small territory that is steadily becoming less important to China?  Think of the long-term benefits to China if the nations of the world actually believe China’s promises and agreements.

Is there any way to persuade Xi Jinping to honor the Joint Declaration and Basic Law?  Would it be possible to assemble a coalition of leaders of a hundred countries to sign a statement endorsing a live and let live approach to Hong Kong?  That would be the ultimate win for everyone.