Mainland Chinese style ‘democratic’ elections: did China break its promise?

Keith Mak was born in Macau and spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong. Moved to England when 14, he is currently an Economics exchange student at Bocconi from University of Glasgow, Scotland. In this article he tells about the situation at the moment in Hong Kong.

If you have been following the news on BBC or CNN starting from last week, the biggest headlines you would probably see were all about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. If you would like to know what is really happening in Hong Kong right now, you should probably start with the history of Hong Kong.

Starting from the point that Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Hong Kong from China in 1898 as China lost the Opium War, Hong Kong became a colony of Britain. When that lease officially ended in 1997, UK gave Hong Kong back to China, but also claiming that Hong Kong has ‘a high degree of autonomy’ for 50 years from that onwards which is based on the constitutional principle called ‘One Country, Two Systems’ proposed by the Paramount Leader of China at the time before Hong Kong has been given back to China.

Based on that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau (A colony of Portugal until 1999) could retain their own CAPITALIST economic and POLITICAL SYSTEM, while the rest of China uses the socialist system, which is an ideology of the Communist Party of China based upon scientific socialism. Under the principle, each of the two regions could continue to have its own POLITICAL SYSTEM, legal, economic and financial affairs, including external relations with foreign countries.

In June 2014, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong held an unofficial referendum on political reform. But in August 2014, China claimed that it would ONLY allow direct elections in Hong Kong in 2017 if the candidates of the chief executive of Hong Kong HAVE ALL BEEN APPROVED by the Chinese Central government. So for the Hong Kong citizens, every single candidate of the Hong Kong Chief Executive election that is going to hold in 2017, who is either candidate A, B, C, D or E, would ALL be chosen by the Chinese Central Government and then the Hong Kong citizens could only pick their own Chief Executive out of all the choices made by the Chinese Central government. So for the Hong Kong citizens, it has been seen as ‘a totally FAKE DEMOCRATIC ELECTION’ under the Chinese Communist Party and it absolutely opposes the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle set before Hong Kong has been given back to China.

A lot of the Hong Kong citizens just think that this is just what the Chinese Communist government wants to do in order to turn Hong Kong into another communist city right before the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle ends in 2047 so they can take full control of Hong Kong. And the protesters are afraid that if the Chinese government can really do it successfully, the human freedom and political freedom of the Hong Kong citizens would be largely restricted by that time. Therefore starting from 22/09, student groups in Hong Kong launched a week-long boycott of classes and from 28/09 onwards, Occupy Central and student protests join forces and take over central Hong Kong. Most of the international businesses going on in Central Hong Kong have been stopped because of the fact that almost all the Central regions have been blocked due to the protests and because of that Hong Kong is suffering from a huge financial loss.

In general, a lot of the Hong Kong citizens are always worried about if democracy can still exist after Hong Kong has been given back to China. Because of the unclear future of Hong Kong after 1997, so during the 90s, right before Hong Kong has been officially given back to China, tens of thousands of well-educated and middle-class Hong Kong citizens just migrated to different English speaking countries in the world. Most of them chose to migrate to Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney, London and Auckland. And the history is repeating itself in the recent years, there is currently another wave of mass migrations in Hong Kong and a lot of Hong Kong citizens chose to migrate to Taiwan as Hong Kong and Taiwan share the similar culture and language and the cost of living is so much lower but the quality of life is so much higher in Taiwan compared to Hong Kong nowadays.

Keith Mak

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