When it comes to questions about Hong Kong’s autonomy, the government’s position is fairly straightforward: Don’t worry about us, we’re doing just fine.
A spokesman for the city’s government made those comments in response to a report from a US government commission that argued that Beijing has increasingly interfered with Hong Kong’s affairs, for example by promoting patriotic education in the city and exerting pressure on local politics. Such interference, the report said, “casts doubt on the continued viability of the ‘one country, two systems’ framework and Beijing’s willingness to eventually grant Hong Kong universal suffrage.”
The US report, which is submitted to the US Congress every year, was issued just as China’s 18th Party Congress concluded, wrapping up a week in which President Hu Jintao and others made a point of lauding the “one country, two systems” principle governing Hong Kong’s relationship with Beijing. At the start of the session’s opening, Hu expressed faith in the system, which will remain in place in Hong Kong until at least 2047, saying he believed that the former British colony “has the wisdom, capability and resourcefulness to successfully govern the special administrative region.”
Produced by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the report appeared to fall flat in Hong Kong’s official circles, with the government calling concerns about the system’s viability “unfounded.” The government also issued further rejoinders, calling implementation of the system Hong Kong’s own “internal affair.”
“We hope that foreign governments and legislatures will respect this fact,” the spokesman added.
Whatever the government’s position, fears about the integrity of “one country, two systems” have been on the rise in Hong Kong this year, with journalists reporting high rates of self-censorship, while analysts have questioned whether Beijing had exerted undue pressure in the run-up to the selection of Leung Chun-ying as the city’s chief executive in March.
Joseph Cheng, a local political analyst, said that while Hu expressed confidence in “one country, two systems,” the relationship between Beijing in Hong Kong is increasingly a source of worry. Despite the fact that Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, he says, Chinese leaders know that Hongkongers’ “hearts have not returned, and therefore they think Hong Kong people need to be educated.”
Leung has recently enjoyed a popularity bounce thanks to his efforts to help tackle the city’s exorbitant cost of housing. However, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists remain wary about close ties to Beijing. Last month, locals circulated images of Leung photoshopped to resemble a eunuch in Beijing’s Forbidden City online.
In the report, the authors said the deterioration of the “one country, two systems” arrangement raises concerns about American security, and recommended that Congress review current advanced technology exports from the US to Hong Kong. If the city’s independence has been undermined, they said, sensitive technologies are more likely to find their way into China. Earlier this year, a report by the US government Accountability Office found that certain integrated electronic circuits that could speed China’s military advancement had already been diverted to China via Hong Kong. -by Te-Ping Chen
Category: Hong Kong