Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies’

Hong Kong: Pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight political race

February 17, 2017

By Joyce Lim
Hong Kong Correspondent
The Straits Times

Holding over 25% of the votes, they aim to stop Beijing’s preferred candidate Carrie Lam

On March 26, Hong Kong’s next leader will be voted in by an Election Committee of 1,194 members. That only so few have a say reflects the failure of the 2014 Occupy Protests, where protesters demanded “one man, one vote” in choosing the chief executive.

But the experience has galvanised the pan-democratic, or pro-democracy camp, to be more pragmatic. Previously, they would cast blank votes to show that they do not support pro-establishment contenders. This time, they hold 326 votes – which is more than a quarter of the votes in the Election Committee – and are determined to make them count.

With the election featuring three pro-establishment figures – Mrs Carrie Lam, Mr John Tsang and Ms Regina Ip – for the first time, the pan-democrats could be the “kingmakers” in a tight race.

Former security chief Ip, 66, who won the most votes for a female lawmaker in last September’s Legislative Council Election, was the first among the three to announce her candidacy, followed by Mr Tsang, 65, a former finance chief, and Mrs Lam, 59, a former chief secretary. Others include retired judge Woo Kwok Hing, 70, and radical pan-democrat Leung Kwok Hung, 60.

To become the next chief executive, at least 601 votes are needed. To qualify, each contender needs at least 150 nominations from the Election Committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing property tycoons, lawmakers as well as representatives of professional bodies and trade associations.

That’s the challenge for all but Mrs Lam, who has been endorsed by Beijing. She has reportedly secured 300 to 400 nominations while Mr Tsang has 24 nominations from pan-democrats.

Mr Tsang, who is leading in popularity polls, is seen as the strongest contender to Mrs Lam.

Some see Beijing’s move to name its preferred candidate as its bid to control the election, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chairman of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies. And it is the pan-democrats’ aim to stop Beijing’s choice candidate from becoming the next chief executive.

“If John Tsang and Woo Kwok Hing are able to join the race, there may be unexpected results,” said Prof Lau, referring to the duo deemed acceptable by the pan-democrats. That is because the next leader would be picked by a secret ballot system, which could see Mrs Lam’s supporters switching sides.

Still, if Beijing had not declared its preferred candidate, it is unlikely that any contender would be able to win enough votes.

Last week, radical lawmaker Leung, better known as “Long Hair”, declared his intention to run and urged pan-democrats not to vote for the other four contenders who “do not represent (the) pro-democracy camp”.

But lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who is coordinating votes from the pan-democrats, told reporters the bloc is considering voting for Mr Tsang, Mr Woo and a third nominee picked from a mock online poll.

With nomination closing on March 1, pan-democrats should decide by next week, he said.

Critics have said Mr Leung’s intention to run has further split the pan-democratic camp already faced with the dilemma of whether to support Mr Tsang. Some worry about the possible backlash from endorsing someone who wants to enact the unpopular national security law.

But with Mr Tsang having a huge lead in popularity polls, even if he turns out to be like incumbent Leung Chun Ying, whose policies are unpopular with Hong Kongers, the pan-democrats could say that the candidate they have endorsed was the people’s choice.


Hong Kong elections: Young, radical voices will demand to be heard

September 6, 2016

By Joyce Lim
The Straits Times

HK could face fresh instability if the new localist politicians feel frustrated in Legco

Hong Kong has always been a largely conservative society with people focused on making a living, but the results of Sunday’s Legislative Council (Legco) elections reveal a shift in how Hong Kongers view politics.

The record 2.2 million Hong Kongers who turned out to cast their votes is also evidence that the city’s residents are now more concerned about their future and how the city is to be governed, analysts said.

And they want a new generation of lawmakers to represent them, as can be seen after veteran lawmakers like pan-democrats Lee Cheuk Yan and Cyd Ho from the Labour party lost their seats despite having good track records in serving their constituents.

In the first major election after the massive student-led protests in 2014 to push for greater democracy, Hong Kongers sent as many as seven localist candidates into the legislature.

This new wave of politicians who are fighting for self-determination and a higher degree of autonomy, many of them participants in the 2014 protests, have been dubbed localists for their desire to protect Hong Kong’s culture and identity.

Young activists ride anti-China mood to win Hong Kong vote

Nathan Law, center, of the political party Demosisto, who helped lead the 2014 protests, celebrates with teen protest leader Joshua Wong, second from left, and his supporters after winning a seat at the legislative council elections in Hong Kong, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. A new wave of anti-China activists appeared headed for victory in Hong Kong’s most pivotal elections since the handover from Britain in 1997, which could set the stage for a fresh round of political confrontations over Beijing’s control of the city. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Some of them want Hong Kong to separate altogether from China, to which the city returned in 1997 under the One Country, Two Systems formula that grants Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, but which residents feel has been eroded in recent years.

However, despite the opposition – the traditional pan-democrats and the young upstarts – gaining a few more seats in these elections, the pro-Beijing camp still dominates with 40 seats now in the 70-seat legislature.

The results have not changed the basic structure of politics in Hong Kong, said Professor Lau Siu Kai, vice-chair of the Beijing-backed Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.

In fact, the opposition camp has never been more divided, and it will be even harder for them to pull together to change the legislature, Prof Lau added.

The pan-democrats would need to cooperate with the localist camp to garner the one-third of votes needed to veto government decisions. Such cooperation was lacking during the campaign when candidates from the two sides crossed verbal swords on TV forums.

Beijing might be disappointed that its camp was unable to win more seats in order to create a new political situation in Hong Kong. But it should be more concerned with the young, radical voices that have found their way into Legco.

The election outcome has left Beijing with more than just a deadlock between the establishment and opposition camps. More radical demands and actions, and the continuation of attacks on Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying, are expected to come from the new generation of lawmakers, said analysts.

Political analyst Ivan Choy said: “If the localists try to move some motions on self-determination, they would have touched the most sensitive nerve of Beijing.”

Another political analyst, Dr Willy Lam, expects Beijing to use any radical actions by the localist legislators as a basis to restrain Hong Kong’s pace of democratisation even more.

When that happens, these legislators are likely to use unconventional tactics and spend a lot of time fighting on the streets after realising they can’t do much in the council.

And that could mean less stability for Hong Kong in the days to come.

Hong Kong: Government’s decision to disqualify candidates sparks more discussion on Hong Kong’s future course — Hong Kong independence rally begins

August 6, 2016

Edward Chan King-sang says courts, not electoral officials, should make calls on whether candidates faked pledges

By Shirley Zhao
South China Morning Post

Friday, August 5, 2016, 11:24pm

The government’s decision to disqualify localist candidates from running in next month’s ­Legislative Council elections will have a “long and deep” negative impact on Hong Kong’s legal system, former Bar Association chairman Edward Chan ­King-sang said yesterday.

Chan’s comments came as outgoing lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing of the Democratic Party, wrote a letter yesterday to the Human Rights Committee under the United Nations about the “disturbing development”, ­condemning the rejections and calling on the committee to “take urgent action”.

Electoral officials had cited the candidates’ pro-independence stance as against the Basic Law, and that they did not “genuinely” respect and uphold the mini-constitution even after some had signed a declaration stating so.

Chan said if supporting Hong Kong independence was a crime and candidates were found guilty by the court, they could be disqualified even after they were elected.

Therefore it should also be up to the court, not electoral officers, to decide whether candidates had faked their pledges.

“[Faking pledges] is a very ­serious accusation,” said Chan in a Commercial Radio programme. “The legal system should be the one to decide whether candidates are guilty of this.”

Chan claimed officials and civil servants, who did not have legal power and should be objective, were letting politics “eat into” the legal system by bypassing it and passing judgment ­themselves.

 Edward Leung (centre) was one of several localist candidates disqualified from the coming polls by the Electoral Affairs Commission. Photo: AFP

Six pro-independence candidates, including Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous, were disqualified from the September 4 elections by the Electoral Affairs Commission. A recent survey showed Leung could have won a seat if he had been allowed to run.

The city’s justice chief Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung on Wednesday defended the commission’s ­decisions, saying the returning ­officer’s call to invalidate Leung because she felt he had no intention of upholding the Basic Law, “had a legal basis”.

But Chan said the law is ­allowed to be amended and a person could uphold the law while wanting to change it. He added it could be argued that a lawmaker could pursue independence via discussions with the government and Beijing on law amendment.

A government spokesman countered that the Basic Law ­stipulates any amendment should not be against the central government’s principle policies on Hong Kong, which included that the city is an inalienable part of China. He said law amendment should not be allowed to become a means for reaching the goal of independence.

Meanwhile, Professor Lau ­Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, warned Beijing might use more tactics to control pro-independence people.

He said the central government, facing increasing tension in international affairs and internal conflicts such as in Tibet and Xinjiang, could feel it ­needed to be more ­strong-handed on Hong Kong ­affairs and block localists’ path into Legco.

Mainland China Tells Hong Kong ‘cross-border ties at stake if calls for independence are not curbed’

May 8, 2016

South China Morning Post
Sunday, May 8, 2016


The central government fears cross-border relations could be destabilised if growing calls for independence are not curbed, according to an academic at a Beijing-backed think tank.

Speaking on RTHK yesterday, Professor Lau Siu-kai, a vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said at the moment Beijing did not consider the movement a significant political force that needed to be taken seriously.

But he stressed: “In principle and emotionally, the central government cannot accept advocacy for independence and self-determination … That’s because they challenge the country’s sovereignty and unity.”

With Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, scheduled to visit Hong Kong for three days this month, there has been speculations whether the state leader will comment on the recent rise in calls for the city’s independence.

Lau dismissed such suggestions. “I believe Zhang Dejiang’s visit is to strengthen the relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland, and to instil confidence in Hongkongers in the city’s future … not to create clashes or trigger resistance,” he said.

Zhang will be the first state leader to visit the city since 2012. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Belt and Road Summit at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 18.

Lau also said he did not believe Zhang would comment on the chief executive election scheduled for next March.

“Talking about this now, particularly in disclosing any message from the central government, could make the political situation even more chaotic or bring up even more protests,” he said.

On Commercial Radio , former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, founder of the Path of Democracy think tank, said cross-border tensions were caused by two factors.

On the one hand, he said the central government believed Hongkongers, particularly pan-democrats, did not respect its sovereignty in the city.

On the other, the pan-democratic camp had been slamming the central government for neglecting the core values of Hong Kong.

“If Beijing, especially when [Zhang] visits Hong Kong, could talk more about defending core values, or if the pan-democratic camp … could show more respect to Beijing’s sovereignty … I believe this could help resolve problems,” he said.

Tong criticised calls for self-determination, saying it was unclear what the advocates wanted.

“If they want [self-determination] within the [current] constitutional framework, then how is that different from fighting for democracy?”

Tong said that if advocates for self-determination rejected the “one country, two systems” principle, it would be no different from calling for independence.

Mainland China academic suggests vigilance against the rise of “neo-localism” in Hong Kong

December 28, 2015

A day after Financial Secretary John Tsang puts a positive spin on the trend, think tank member warns independence forces could unite to promote the ideology

By Gary Cheung
South China Morning Post

An academic from the mainland’s top think tank on Hong Kong affairs has called for vigilance against the rise of “neo-localism”, a day after Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah put a positive spin on the trend in the city.

In a commentary published in Global Times yesterday, Fan Peng, a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, wrote that advocates of “neo-localism” aimed at achieving “full autonomy” and stirring up the sense of Hong Kong identity which differentiated themselves from the mainland.

“Although neo-localism still has limited political impact, the force advocating it may coalesce with anti-China and anti-communist elements in Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries to create a more deep-rooted crisis in the field of culture and ideology,” Fan wrote.

“We should not rule out the possibility of the advocates of neo-localism in Hong Kong joining hands with Taiwan independence forces to promote the ideology in the international arena.”

Fan is also an associate researcher with the Institute of Political Science under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Dr Li Pang-kwong, director of the public governance programme at Lingnan University, said many mainland academics had spotted the rise of localism.

“But they failed to find out the social soil for the phenomenon, which is the growing tension between Hong Kong and the mainland, let alone come up with a solution,” Li said.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, believed Fan may not have been referring to Tsang’s blog, which was uploaded on Sunday, just a day before the publication of the article in Global Times.

Tsang compared localism with the alumni’s sense of belonging at his secondary school, La Salle College, in Kowloon City.

“They are common … [in that it is] a strong passion and sense of pride for one’s own identity, tradition and culture. Such a sentiment exists everywhere – from as big as a country and a race to as a small as a school,” Tsang wrote.

Rather than looking at it as a destructive force, he cited the potential of localism to become a “strong and constructive force” that binds society together.

Tsang’s remarks were in stark contrast to the approach of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who slammed localist protests against mainland visitors and attacked student leaders for discussing self-determination for the city.


Political reform package is the best available option for Hong Kong

May 18, 2015

Patrick Ho says proponents must stop depicting it as less than ideal

By Patrick Ho
South China Morning Post

When certain officials suggested that Hong Kong’s citizens should “pocket it first” when considering the government’s political reform package, there was an immediate public uproar.

Those opposed to the proposal, including several Legislative Council members and politicians, leapt in to criticise the package as a “knock-off”, “substandard”, “less than satisfactory” and an “interim proposal”.

They claimed that candidates who emerged as a result would be “rotten oranges”, and told citizens not to “pocket it first” or they would be stuck with it forever.

At the same time, the supporting parties have trapped themselves in a position of trying to sell a package that even they themselves consider to be “not ideal”. All who have stepped forward to defend it have been unable to plausibly explain this reform package to the public in a convincing manner and have been sheepish in their justification.

This lack of justification and confidence from the government makes it hard for the reform package to gain the trust and acceptance of the people, let alone that of the opposition. When the proponents themselves do not believe that this is a proposal for “true universal suffrage” that is in line with Hong Kong’s actual circumstances, how can they expect it to be accepted by the public?

In fact, asking people to “pocket it first” is to buy into the opponents’ erroneous assumption that it is possible to have an “ultimate proposal” that cannot be altered in future – this assumption runs counter to the reality of a changing world. Any proposal that is being offered can only be the best available.

The government’s political reform package is one such proposal – the best adapted to Hong Kong’s actual circumstances, and the best suited to the interests and welfare of the majority of Hongkongers as well as the rest of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people. It is the most ideal proposal for true universal suffrage.

All citizens of Hong Kong should unanimously support this long-awaited opportunity; lawmakers should not deprive the people of this unprecedented right to “one man, one vote”.

That being said, a proposal that serves its purpose is one that may be amended according to future needs and continuously optimised in keeping with the times, so that it closely reflects the needs of social development.

Given this possibility, Article 7 of Annex I to the Basic Law clearly states that, “If there is a need to amend the method for selecting the chief executives for the terms subsequent to the year 2007, such amendments must be made with the endorsement of a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Legislative Council and the consent of the chief executive, and they shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for approval.”

In other words, the approach to true universal suffrage was never cast in stone. It must allow for the possibility of future change and adaptation based on the actual circumstances, whatever they may be.

This provision still exists and has not been removed, and, should the need arise in future, the door for further modification remains open.

I therefore implore our leaders and government officials to stop depicting this proposal for universal suffrage in terms of whether or not we should “pocket it first”.

This is a proposal for true universal suffrage, one that is best suited to Hong Kong’s current state of affairs, one that is in keeping with the times – realistic, pragmatic, and one that offers a vote to each and every one of Hong Kong’s 5 million eligible voters.

Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping is a former secretary for home affairs and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies

Hong Kong’s Parallel Trade: Mainland Chinese plan “quarreling squads” to fight back Hong Kongers at border

March 13, 2015

Kahon Chan and Shadow Li, China Daily/ANN, Hong Kong

Violence against parallel traders and mainland visitors in Hong Kong has triggered widespread concern among academics and even the most radical faction in the opposition camp.

As of Thursday, at least seven people had been arrested for alleged violence related to anti-parallel trading protests staged on Sunday.

News footage showed an elderly man being bullied by a group of masked activists, and a young girl bursting into tears as her mother quarrelled with protesters.

Both the man and the mother had been pulling luggage near a protest rally. The man was later identified in media reports as a local resident who regularly plays music at a public park in the satellite town of Tuen Mun.

People protesting against parallel traders from the mainland gather at Hong Kong Rail’s Sheung Shui Station, March 8. (Photo/ CNS)

Parallel trading in Hong Kong refers to the phenomenon of mainland and Hong Kong traders taking goods from the city to the mainland, causing shortages of household goods in various locations in Hong Kong.

Protests against daily visitors from the mainland have swept northern areas of Hong Kong since early last month.

The first, a march, began in Tuen Mun on February 8 as an approved rally, but crowds ended up storming a shopping mall. The protests later spread to the towns of Yuen Long and Sha Tin.

Radical lawmakers from Hong Kong’s opposition camp, known for their filibusters in the Legislative Council that have stalled funding requests, on Wednesday stood together against Sunday’s incidents, saying that violence is unacceptable.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said the opposition camp has drawn a clear line with the radical groups, which should help mounting calls for law enforcers to take stern action.

Dennis Wong Sing-wing, a sociology expert at City University of Hong Kong, said netizens have been elated by recent media exposure, which they had struggled to achieve previously.

Chung Kim-wah, a policy expert from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the protesters may feel they have received a further boost by the authorities’ move to revise the individual visit scheme for mainland residents.


Mainland Chinese plan “quarreling squads” to fight back Hong Kongers at border

Some mainland Chinese are reportedly planning to form a squad whose job will be to pick fights with Hong Kong residents, as anti-parallel trader sentiment has escalated in the administrative region, reports overseas Chinese news portal Duowei.

Anti-parallel trader campaigns have started to take place more and more in Hong Kong in protest of the numerous mainlanders who take advantage of the multi-entry visa policy to import goods from Hong Kong to mainland China, causing shortages of household goods for locals, especially in the north.

The protests have angered netizens in the mainland, however. A post looking to recruit individuals interested in scolding Hong Kongers was posted on the Weibo microblog recently. Members of the “quarreling squad” will receive a monthly salary of 3,000 yuan (US$480) and an extra 300 yuan (US$48) bonus for every Hong Konger they successfully bring to tears. The organized team will consist of 14 members, who will receive professional trainings to enhance their verbal skills and “angry looks.”

Chan Wing Kee, on the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference said he has never heard of such a group but hopes that it is not true. Such an organization will only aggravate the conflict between the both sides.

There are indeed too many Chinese tourists in Hong Kong due to faulty regulations, though that does not make it right to drive them away, said Chan. He added that those who do display uncivilized behavior in Hong Kong may have come from some remote countryside and do not know common courtesy.

The whole world welcomes visitors, and thus it does not make sense if Hong Kong refuses to take in more. Some pick on the multi-entry visa policy, but if the policy is cancelled, meaning that less Chinese can come and go as they freely, the livelihoods of businesses around the border which depend on the Chinese tourists will be affected, said Chan.

Chan urged Hong Kong citizens not to take their discontent of the current situation to the tourists.

Tam Yiu-Chung, chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the protests are put together by the few that do not represent the majority. It is meaningless to point fingers and he urged the mainlanders to be tolerant.

A spokesperson for an HK Indigenous activist group admitted that the anti-parallel trader campaign may have been too intense but he thinks that they have happened for a reason, which is to express the resentment of the people towards the government’s turning a blind eye to the problem of excessive parallel traders from the mainland.


Chan Wing Kee 陳永棋

Tam Yiu-Chung 譚耀宗

HK Indigenous 本土民主前線

Beijing needs to say what happened to Hong Kong’s ‘high degree of autonomy’

March 9, 2015

Gary Cheung says if Beijing truly wants to win over Hong Kong people, reaffirmation of our ‘high degree of autonomy’ is a good start

By Gary Cheung
South China Morning Post

The omission of two key phrases affirming Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy" have reappeared in Premier Li Keqiang's work report to the legislature. Photo: Xinhua

To reinstate or not, that was the question. Last year, the omission in a key national document of two oft-cited mantras on post-handover Hong Kong caused a stir in the city. For the first time since 2003, the phrases “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and “a high degree of autonomy” were missing in the premier’s work report, raising questions about Beijing’s promises on Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” formula.

Then, seemingly in response to the unease, Premier Li Keqiang reinstated the phrases in his 2014 work report delivered last week.

Why such a fuss was made over the inclusion or absence of two phrases must be understood in the context of Hong Kong’s peculiar political history.

In the first few years after the handover, Beijing adopted a low-key approach towards Hong Kong, as it was confident the city could be left to run on its own. But the “non-interference” policy ended with the 500,000-strong protest against national security legislation on July 1, 2003. The following year, Beijing asserted its power to decide Hong Kong’s political future with an interpretation of the Basic Law.

Tensions with the central government have eased somewhat since then – until recently. Unlike their predecessors, Xi Jinping and his generation of state leaders would sometimes omit these nods to the city’s unique status in their public speeches. In a meeting with Hong Kong tycoons last September, for example, Xi pledged that the central government would adhere to the “one country, two systems” principle but notably made no mention of Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy” or “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”.

Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first chief executive after the 1997 handover, left, with President Xi Jinping in Beijing last September  during Mr. Xi’s meeting with Hong Kong tycoons. Photo By Rao Aimin (AP)

But it was the absence of these phrases in Li’s work report a year ago that caused the most concern.

So far, no mainland officials have come forward to explain why they were reinstated this year. However, the remarks of one leading Beijing adviser on Hong Kong affairs may bring some comfort.

Qi Pengfei, the vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Beijing recognised the fears sparked by the omission of the phrases and put them back to set Hong Kong people’s minds at ease. This seems to show Beijing still cares about the feelings of the people.

However, winning over the hearts and minds of Hongkongers requires efforts beyond the insertion of two phrases in the premier’s work report.

When Zhu Rongji left out the phrases in his swansong work report in 2003, it caused little comment as, at the time, Beijing enjoyed a relatively high level of trust among Hong Kong people.

Three months after the delivery of Zhu’s report, his successor Wen Jiabao paid a visit to Hong Kong. After overseeing the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement in June 2003, Wen refrained from comparing the cross-border trade pact to a “gift” from the central government, as some have described. Instead, he said the genuine “big gift” was the “unswerving determination of the new leadership to implement ‘one country, two systems’, ‘the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong’ and the city’s ‘high degree of autonomy'”.

Gary Cheung is the Post’s political editor

China Will Offer Hong Kong Universal Suffrage Vote Deal, But Democratic Party and College Students Smell a Rat

February 6, 2015


By Ng Kang-chung and Emily Tsang
South China Sea

The trade-based functional constituencies are likely to survive the implementation of universal suffrage, according to a top adviser to a Beijing think tank on Hong Kong affairs.

Professor Lau Siu-kai said he believes Beijing would aim for a system that could combine elements of universal suffrage with the Legislative Council’s trade-based seats.

Speaking after a radio interview yesterday, Lau, vice-chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said: “From the viewpoint of the central authorities, Hong Kong’s governance in the past few years could have become much more difficult if it had not been for the support of legislators from functional constituencies.

“Beijing’s view is that Hong Kong’s political development must serve the purpose of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, which is … to protect investors’ interest and the capitalist system and avoid welfarism and populism.”

He believed Beijing would not allow the functional constituencies to be scrapped in the near future. “The most probable result is to find a way that can incorporate universal suffrage elements into functional constituency [elections],” he said.

Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee (left), Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (right) and other members of Civic Party protest to calling for the abolition of functional constituencies outside Legco in March, 2011. Photo: David Wong

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has ruled that functional constituencies should make up half the seats in Legco, the chief executive can be elected by one man, one vote in 2017 and all lawmakers may also be subsequently also elected by universal suffrage.

Functional constituencies are mainly profession- or trade-based. Many have a narrow electoral base. In 2012, Steven Ho Chun-yin won the agriculture and fisheries seat with just 105 votes.

Emily Lau Wai-hing of the opposition Democratic Party insisted functional constituencies had to be abolished and ridiculed the suggestion the seats could be combined with elements of universal suffrage. She said: “Functional constituency elections with the characteristics of universal suffrage. Is it a joke?”

Meanwhile, a poll of over 1,200 medical students from Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong found 86 per cent said Legco should vote against the electoral reforms for the 2017 chief executive election if they were based on Beijing’s framework.

University of Hong Kong

Some 92 per cent said electing the chief executive according to Beijing’s wishes would not protect the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong.

Britain made 1984 vow to Hong Kong on Sino-British joint declaration, declassified documents show

December 30, 2014


Former British PM told top city officials London would confront Beijing over any post-handover breaches of Joint Declaration, documents show

By Gary Cheung in London
South China Morning Post

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and husband Dennis (right) during the handover in 1997. Photo: AFP

Margaret Thatcher assured Hong Kong’s political elite during her visit to the city in December 1984 that Britain would not hesitate to raise any breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration with Beijing after 1997.

The pledge was stated in the notes prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the then prime minister’s informal conversations with members of the Executive Council and the Legislative Council on December 20, 1984.

Britain’s assurance came to light in files recently declassified from the National Archives in London.

The closed-door meeting was held a day after the joint declaration was signed by her and then Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang in Beijing.

Thatcher was reminded in the “points to make” drafted by the FCO to tell Exco and Legco members that there was good reason for thinking Beijing would observe the agreement.

“Observance is in China’s interests for economic reasons and for cause of reunification,” the notes said.

“Britain has the right to raise any breaches with China after 1997. We would not hesitate to do so.”

According to a declassified record of a meeting between Zhao and Thatcher on December 19, 1984, Zhao said it was a tradition of the Chinese nation to act in good faith.

“Zhao said China always lived up to her international commitments. The agreement reached on Hong Kong was such a good agreement that no one wanted to alter or change it,” the record said.

READ MORE: Signing of joint declaration masked deep rift between Britain and China over Hong Kong’s future

The high degree of autonomy Beijing pledged in the pact has been a bone of contention in Hong Kong in the wake of the release of the State Council’s white paper in June, which stated that Beijing had “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.

The “Iron Lady” was also advised to send a similar message at her press conference in Hong Kong on December 21, 1984.

In the briefing notes for the press conference, the FCO suggested the “line to take” on the hypothetical question: “What will Britain do if [the] Chinese do not implement [the] agreement?” Thatcher was advised to reply that a “breach of a legally binding international agreement would be a most serious matter, in our eyes and no doubt in those of [the] international community as a whole”.

“We would of course make the strongest possible representations to the Chinese government in order to seek a remedy.”

But Thatcher gave a milder answer at the press conference, saying: “If by any chance any question rose under the agreement, naturally a signatory to it would raise the matter with the Chinese government.”

Thatcher’s visit to China in 1982 launched the Sino-British negotiations on Hong Kong’s future. She died in April last year at the age of 87.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of mainland think tank the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said Beijing’s reputation was at stake if it failed to comply with the joint declaration. “Britain believes it has a moral duty to Hong Kong, but it doesn’t mean it has the oversight of the situation of Hong Kong after 1997,” Lau said.

Rifts between Britain and China over Hong Kong affairs emerged shortly after the signing of the joint declaration.

In July, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming that Britain would “mobilise the international community and pursue every legal and other avenue available” if China breached the declaration.

On December 1, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped into a row over Beijing’s refusal to let a group of British lawmakers visit Hong Kong, saying that the decision was “counterproductive”.

The row centres on Beijing’s ban on a visit originally planned for this month by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the implementation of the joint declaration.