No tol­er­ance for those try­ing to split coun­try

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 11 Comment Editorial • Opinion -

Both the Hong Kong and Ma­cao Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil and the Li­ai­son Of­fice of the Cen­tral Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion is­sued strong state­ments on Satur­day ex­press­ing their res­o­lute sup­port for the SAR gov­ern­ment in its bid to reign in any col­lu­sion be­tween Hong Kong sep­a­ratists and ex­ter­nal forces.

Their back­ing came af­ter the SAR gov­ern­ment con­demned re­marks made by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of law at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong, on March 26.

Speak­ing at a sem­i­nar or­ga­nized by a Tai­wan separatist group in Taipei, Tai, who ini­ti­ated the il­le­gal “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” move­ment in 2014, called for the es­tab­lish­ment of an “in­de­pen­dent” Hong Kong, which he be­lieved should be de­cided through “demo­cratic self-de­ter­mi­na­tion”.

Al­though Hong Kong sep­a­ratism has now been dis­guised as “self-de­ter­min­ism”, which sounds less alarm­ing on the sur­face, the two are in fact the same. Hence, self-de­ter­min­ists who tried to run in the re­cent by-elec­tion of Hong Kong Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil were rightly dis­qual­i­fied by the re­turn­ing of­fi­cers. And the op­po­si­tion camp, which has re­lied heav­ily on the sup­port of the rad­i­cal lo­cal­ists, suf­fered set­backs in the by-elec­tion held on March 11.

What the moder­ate “pan-democrats” need to do if they want to win peo­ple’s sup­port is to stay away from any form of sep­a­ratism and help bring Hong Kong’s de­vel­op­ment back on track through fur­ther in­te­gra­tion into the coun­try’s over­all de­vel­op­ment strat­egy.

Calls such as Tai’s for Hong Kong’s “self-de­ter­mi­na­tion” lack both rea­son and truth, but those mak­ing them are will­ing to over­look th­ese ob­vi­ous flaws in their ar­gu­ments if they can find a soapbox on which to de­liver their mes­sage.

But what Tai said in Taipei has given him away. Look­ing back, it is easy to see that by call­ing for so-called real democ­racy, he was con­ceal­ing his true mo­ti­va­tion in or­ches­trat­ing the “Oc­cupy” cam­paign, which was to foster rad­i­cal lo­cal­ism to sup­port his separatist delu­sion.

Tai’s re­marks came af­ter the Tai­wan Travel Act was signed into law in the United States, em­bold­en­ing those on the is­land seek­ing “in­de­pen­dence” and that may have rubbed off on Tai. Th­ese sep­a­ratists should not let over­con­fi­dence make them in­cau­tious. They should not un­der­es­ti­mate the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the cen­tral lead­ers to fend off any at­tempt to split the coun­try, nor the dis­trust most Chi­nese have of them.

Tai spoke in Taipei barely a week af­ter Pres­i­dent Xi Jinping said with­out any am­bi­gu­ity at the clos­ing of the first ses­sion of the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress on March 20 that not an inch of Chi­nese ter­ri­tory will be al­lowed to be taken away — th­ese should not be mis­taken for empty words.

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