JULY 2009, NUMBER FIFTEEN
HAS CHINA LOST PATIENCE WITH HONG KONG POLITICS?
The answer is clearly yes, according to the first two articles in this issue of the Hong Kong Journal. Both claim the 500,000-strong protest march of July 1, 2003 convinced Chinese leaders they needed to take firmer control of Hong Kong’s internal affairs and they’ve been doing so steadily ever since. The coming years will see even more authority assumed by mainland officials and certain Hong Kong residents they choose, with less remaining in the hands of Hong Kong’s own officials—especially those who win elections.
For details, see:
By Jie Cheng
Chinese officials are assuming a bigger role in Hong Kong affairs to emphasize their right to exercise direct authority over its appointed and elected leaders, writes Jie Cheng of Tsinghua University’s School of Law. Professor Cheng, who earlier was seconded to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to work on Hong Kong and Macau issues, explains why Beijing leaders believe they cannot leave major decisions solely to local leaders, and must emphasize “one country” over “two systems”. For example, she writes that they believe they cannot permit those who dispute central policies to control any portion of Chinese territory, and also contend that foreign interests—especially American—have been meddling in Hong Kong politics.
...AND FROM HONG KONG: HOW BEIJING PLAYS ITS HAND
By Frank Ching
Frustrated and irritated Chinese leaders have abandoned the hands-off approach to Hong Kong they followed for the first six years after the 1997 handover of sovereignty, agrees Frank Ching, a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator on Chinese politics. Startled by the huge protest march of 2003, Beijing officials decided to tighten their political grip on the city while continuing to deny doing so. However, like Professor Cheng, Frank Ching doesn’t believe Beijing will find implementing this new approach to be easy.
By Suzanne Pepper
China’s Hong Kong policies are often cited—especially by Beijing—as a precedent for bringing about an amicable unification with Taiwan. But Suzanne Pepper, an American writer based in Hong Kong, argues that it does no such thing, and others should avoid pushing Taiwan into what would in fact be a one system, one party arrangement.
By Thomas E. Kellogg
Early this year, Macau denied entry to University of Hong Kong law dean Johannes Chan for unstated “security” reasons, an apparent misuse of the law for political purposes, writes Thomas E. Kellogg of the Open Society Institute of New York. This sets a worrisome precedent for Hong Kong, which is obliged to enact its own security legislation, and could lead to similar action against people the administration finds troublesome.
HONG KONG POLITICS: CAN BUSINESS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
By James T.H. Tang
Last year’s legislative elections in Hong Kong gave new influence to some relatively radical politicians who reflect popular disenchantment with the government’s pro-business policies, according to James T.H. Tang, Professor of Political Science at the University of Hong Kong. But business interests should see this more as an opportunity than a threat, and find more
effective ways of engaging in public debate and policy-making to advance their own interests.
By Robert Keatley
Global economic trends battered the services economy of Hong Kong, pushing down business and pushing up unemployment. Whether relatively buoyant China would provide an effective buffer remained an open question. Meantime, concerns rose again about a slowed movement toward universal suffrage and environmentalists remained worried about dirty air and water. But these long term issues were only temporary distractions from economic problems.