Occupy Central Series: Dan Garrett on Beijing’s Role in Candidate Filtering

[This post is part of the Occupy Central Series]

Mike Forsythe continues his excellent coverage of Hong Kong politics, with his third Question and Answer piece with Michael Tien. Tien argues that, “the referendum is pushing for a nomination procedure that is without restriction, and that is steadfastly being ruled out by China, and they’re very serious about it. It is absolutely beyond negotiation, just like sovereignty, because it is written in the Basic Law.”

On Facebook, Dan Garrett rejected this view:

Tien is totally wrong in that civil or public nomination is a system without restriction. Beijing has a legal veto over whoever is elected and that is in the Basic Law – they can refuse to appoint the person and then just stick whoever they want to as chief executive (appointment after local consultations, no election needed.) 

What civil nomination does is create the possibility that Beijing may have to use this power and thus create a political crisis when the illusion of communist rule over Hong Kong is popularly albeit symbolically rejected. Contrary to what Beijing and SAR officials have said, the notion of political pre-screening is not enshrined in the Basic Law. In fact, Articles 25 and 26 of the Basic Law essentially guarantee every Hongkonger who meets codified criteria (age, residency, etc.) can vote AND stand for election. To exclude someone on political position would violate the Basic Law.

And that doesn’t even begin to get into the fact that if pre-screening is instituted in the CE election than that is the same as inner-party democracy/grassroots democracy on the mainland which means: One Country, ONE SYSTEM. Two Systems would be no longer because HK is an executive-led political system and the chief executive is at the top of the socialist system food chain within in HK.

Pragmatic is not the same thing as having no choice any more than a competitive authoritarian political systems (like Hong Kong’s) is a democracy.

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