香港長官選法案 「高度な自治」は看板倒れか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Was China’s offer of ‘high degree of autonomy’ for Hong Kong a facade?
香港長官選法案 「高度な自治」は看板倒れか

Will the “high degree of autonomy” China promised to Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” formula turn out to be a mere facade?

An electoral reform package for the poll to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive in 2017 has been voted down by a majority of pro-democracy lawmakers.

With this, a “normal election” in which Hong Kong’s voters directly select their leader will not go ahead. Instead, the current indirect election system — in which the leader is chosen by a committee comprised of industry group representatives and others — looks set to continue.

Although the reform bills offered the prospect of one vote for each eligible voter, only pro-China candidates would have been allowed to run in the race. We can understand why pro-democracy lawmakers voted to oppose this proposal, which they denounced as offering a “fake direct election.”

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, ending British control there. The Chinese government accepted that Hong Kong would retain a high degree of autonomy and set the goal of holding a normal election rooted in universal suffrage as espoused by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which equates to its Constitution.

In August 2014, the Chinese government decided to introduce an electoral system in which Hong Kong residents could choose their leader in a “normal election” based on the Basic Law. However, all candidates were required to secure the support of more than 50 percent of a newly formed nominating committee that was dominated by pro-Beijing members. The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping obviously intended to block the emergence of an anti-China democratic-minded chief executive.

For 2½ months, students and activists angered by this decision staged protests and camped in the streets. Despite this, Hong Kong’s government ignored the protesters’ demands and drew up legislation that faithfully adhered to the wishes of the Chinese government. This also became a problem.

Don’t misinterpret protests

At a regularly scheduled press conference after the bills were voted down, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “That the chief executive of the special administrative region’s government should not be chosen as such in 2017 is a result we are unwilling to see.” This comment also has somewhat of a hollow ring to it.

Protests by students and activists ahead of this week’s vote did not reach the scale of the demonstrations held during last year’s “umbrella revolution.” This appears to be because many Hong Kong residents felt deep resentment toward the prolonged demonstrations, which created traffic congestion and economic losses.

The media manipulation and propaganda of the Xi administration — which has sought to isolate the students by portraying them as disrupting Hong Kong’s social stability — has been effective in this regard.

It would be most unwise for the Xi administration to decide that this has quieted the voices demanding democracy in Hong Kong.

Abandoning the reform process as it stands now is unacceptable.

We are concerned that the more the Xi administration comes down with an iron fist, the more the backlash from pro-democracy activists and students will intensify. This deepening rift could harm Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. In the end, China will likely pay the price for this.

The Xi administration must respect Hong Kong’s autonomy and push ahead with dialogue with the students and pro-democracy activists. Unless progress continues to be made toward holding genuine normal elections, the Xi administration will not gain the wide trust of the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2015)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク


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