I think it’s worth clarifying what happened in Hong Kong today. What Beijing just did was demand, for the first time, that Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) pass a specific piece of domestic legislation. It was on the most important issue facing the city – our democratic future. It is so specific that there is no room for any meaningful debate or amendments. They backed it with a threat: if it doesn’t pass, and it requires two-thirds support, then there will be no universal suffrage in the foreseeable future.
It would mean Beijing stops even pretending to seek compliance with Article 45 of the Basic Law, which demands eventual universal suffrage. Our LegCo is tasked with either rubber stamping a blatantly rigged nomination system with universal suffrage or continuing a system where 0.0002% of the population nominates and elects a candidate under slightly less rigged conditions.
I am worried. This is a fight that needs to be fought. Beijing tried these antics a decade ago with Article 23 and they lost. While it’s possible that they might lose this if the opposition is just as fierce, this time they’re warning of violence. Chen Zuoer, the CCP’s former liaison to HK, said that “Occupy Central would end in bloodshed if its organizers refused to back down.” There is no way to read that as anything but a threat of violence. We’ve already seen evidence that the PLA has moved armored vehicles into Central.
A few days ago, I thought it would be impossible they would consider deploying the PLA in Central. I also thought Article 23 was long dead. Not anymore.
This is it. This is the worst-case scenario. It is not hyperbole to say that this is effectively the end of “One Country, Two Systems.” We’ll be able to keep our own currency, but Beijing is now dictating domestic law to LegCo the same way it would to any other Chinese city. This is not what Margaret Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping agreed to in the Sino-UK Joint Declaration. This isn’t even what Deng wanted for the city. As we’ve seen with Xi Jinping’s style elsewhere, it was exactly what it looks like: a display of crude, uncompromising power.
Welcome, everyone, to Xi’s ‘Chinese Dream‘.