It is impossible to make abstract judgment about a political system with no regard to its specific social and political conditions. The pros and cons of democracy is largely decided by people who live with it. Is this not a revelation for today's Hong Kong?
Since the protest against the fugitive law amendments began, rioters and some activists have proposed five appeals. Their ultimate aim is to implement “dual universal suffrage”. The democracy they want is not the local administrative rights under central sovereignty, but an independent political entity from the reach of central government. The democracy they want is not for Hong Kong's prosperity but their own self-interest.
For example, the universal suffrage they want is to select a chief executive that has no responsibility to the central government regardless of the Basic Law and decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, so as to seize the executive power of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) from the central government. It's not only incompatible with the true meaning of democracy, but it’s also an impermissible attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the authority of the central government and the sanctity of the Basic Law of the HKSAR, and use Hong Kong as a channel for infiltration and sabotage against the mainland.
Just as radical protesters cry out for the democracy on the streets of Hong Kong, in the meantime, they are making up stories to mislead the Hong Kong public over the city's democratic process. The fact is that Hong Kong was never granted with any democracy under colonization of the British. In those days, Hong Kong’s governor, who also served president of the Legislative Council, was appointed by the British queen. Therefore, the boundary between legislative and administration was very vague.
Hong Kong's democratic system was truly established and developed after Hong Kong's return to the motherland. The Basic Law of Hong Kong clearly states that the Chief Executive and all members of the Legislative Council are elected by universal suffrage. After the HKSAR was established, China's central government has supported HKSAR to develop democratic politics with a rapid and steady pace in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant decisions of the NPC Standing Committee.
What those radical protesters did not tell Hong Kong residents is that in 2015, a widely supported motion to secure universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election was blocked by some radical lawmakers. Instead, they are lying to young people about the Sino-British Joint Declaration having paragraphs about "dual universal suffrage". They are also trying to persuade US politicians to pass a so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to further meddle in Hong Kong affairs.
These despicable acts are ruining the democratic politics in Hong Kong and they are also the solid proof that some people are trying to destroy the future of the city in the name of pro-democracy activities.
Democracy is neither a slogan nor a fantasy. It should make real sense. The democratic development of Hong Kong politics should serve the fundamental interests of Hong Kong. A glimpse at history reminds us that the draft version of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR offered five methods for selecting the Chief Executive. Among them, some were steady while some were radical. Why the step-by-step method was chosen, not the method at one go? It is precisely because this method is in line with the actual situation in Hong Kong, taking into account the interests of all sectors of society and embodying the principle of balanced participation, which is conducive to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
Today, to develop Hong Kong's democratic politics, it is still necessary to get insights from the history, know well about the people’s livelihood and be responsible for the future. In this sense, the Basic Law not only provides a political structure that must be followed, but also provides political wisdom that can be used for reference.
According to the Basic Law: “Hong Kong has been part of the territory of China since ancient times”, “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China”. and “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a local administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People’s Government.” This means that the democratic politics of Hong Kong is a democracy in the local area under the administration of the Central People’s Government. Hong Kong's democratization must be based on the premise of ensuring the sovereignty of the central government over Hong Kong under the Basic Law and should serve the interests of Hong Kong and the national sovereignty, security and development as well.
Therefore, no matter when the political reform is initiated in the future, Hong Kong's universal suffrage system must conform to the Basic Law and conform to the relevant decisions of the NPC Standing Committee. This also indicates the dialectical unity between “One country” and “Two systems” under the policy of “One country and Two systems”.
In his book Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that “I am very far from thinking that we ought to follow the example of the American democracy, and copy the means which it has employed to attain its ends.” Democracy is not always the same and should not be copied at will.
(Compiled by Ryan Yaoran Yu, Paris Yelu Xu and Shen Feng)