Friday, 28 September 2012

The Hong Kong Backlash

Much has been written elsewhere about the whole kerfuffle surrounding the ham-fisted attempt to insititute a once-a-week moral and national education (MNE - AKA civics) classes in Hong Kong's schools that some suspected of being aimed at brainwashing Hong Kong's youth into accepting a CCP-friendly world-view. On paper, at least, the proposals actually left the schools free to decide on content, and the nature of this kind of education is such that it's hard to believe that that many people would have been won over by it even if it was just as bad as its critics made it out to be. It is, however, correct to say that MNE grew to represent something more than a mere once-a-week time-waste, as the excellent Big Lychee blog points out:

"Hong Kong is experiencing a backlash against attempts to turn it into something it isn’t. The government can’t admit that a secret but ham-fisted policy of Mainlandization was launched, let alone promise that it will now be suspended as counterproductive. It can’t (apparently) drastically reduce the number of Mainland visitors or bar them meaningfully from buying second homes here. It can’t even officially admit that National Education is completely over and done with and has ceased to exist. It can’t do much else because its own citizens won’t let it."
Exactly. This is the reason why you see people too young to remember the 1997 hand-over marching through the streets of the territory carrying the old colonial-era Hong Kong flag. Not because they seriously want to be returned to the UK, or even because the majority of them would like outright independence, but because they see the Hong Kong that exists right now, the one that came about under the old flag, as one under attack from the authorities whose flag now flies at government buildings in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is unique in being a quasi-city-state that is Chinese but not altogether part of China. The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 is explicit in this status having an end-date in 2047, when full unification with the mainland is due to occur. The current government of Hong Kong is tasked with acheiving this union, a union which, since the Chinese mainland has not reformed in any meaningful way politically since the 90's, and is governed by a party apparently committed to avoiding reform, requires that Hong Kong become like the mainland. This the people of Hong Kong do not appear willing to accept.

There is, of course, another deadline in play in Hong Kong affairs - the 2017 deadline for the introduction of universal suffrage. What chance is there now of this commitment coming about if the Hong Kong electorate continues to vote as it did in this year's LegCo elections? It is very hard not to think that the Chinese government will never accept a Hong Kong Chief Executive who is not their creature. 2017 therefore appears to be a date at which problems are already very much forseeable.


Anonymous said...

It seems beijing will achieve their political aims thru economic coercion. There has actually been a groundswell in support for probeijing candidates in just the last 8 years, coinciding with closer economic cooperation between the two. People will generally take the cash and look the other way. Ive seen friends previously critical about the chinese govt sing praises about the cccp after thriving businesewise up north. Your support of the regime is generally proportional your degree of economic reliance to it.

习副主席 said...

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Gilman Grundy said...

@Anonymous - It's a funny kind of ground-swell that comprises losing the popular vote every time despite in-fighting and back-stabbing in the pro-dem camp, inciting a large portion of the population to march in protest against the pro-Beijing camp's policies etc. etc. etc.

@习副主席 - Lol, my self-criticism is in the mail!

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

A complicated situation, no one really knows what Hong Kong people really think, given its diversity. There are probably some different voices within the CCP as well. We shall see.