HK elite need to de­velop na­tional iden­tity

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM - By Tian Fei­long

Amid the hurly-burly of protests, echo of the slogan “Re­vive Hong Kong, revo­lu­tion of our times” rang aloud as city scholar Chow Po-chung gloated over “our golden era” to fight for so­called democ­racy, jus­ti­fy­ing the ram­pag­ing ac­tions of demon­stra­tors. What kind of “times” are the rad­i­cal protesters ex­pect­ing? What are the core val­ues and political ap­peals of their “times?” Ap­par­ently, the di­ver­gence in ide­ol­ogy and val­ues is the deeper rea­son of the anti-ex­tra­di­tion bill protests.

The rad­i­cal protesters’ “times” are West­ern­ized times that closely re­late to colo­nial moder­nity and Western val­ues. Their main political ap­peal is free­dom and democ­racy. But un­der the “one country, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and the Ba­sic Law, Hong Kong’s free­dom has been fully guar­an­teed. Hong Kong’s free­dom and democ­racy must be in line with the sovereignt­y, se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests of the “one country.” How­ever, Hong Kong op­po­si­tion groups’ “revo­lu­tion of our times” aims at over­throw­ing “one country, two sys­tems,” and they are pur­su­ing a so-called uni­ver­sal democ­racy. Their “times” also re­fer to ab­so­lute au­ton­omy and even Hong Kong se­ces­sion.

Such rad­i­cal thoughts are

in­flu­enced by Hong Kong’s political and cul­tural elite. From the pan-democ­racy camp, to civil dis­obe­di­ence, to the “valiant” ri­ot­ers, it shows how deeply such colo­nial thoughts are rooted among Hong Kong elite. In the highly West­ern­ized Hong Kong elite’ opin­ion, moder­nity, as the core stan­dard of civ­i­liza­tion, is noth­ing but a whole set of con­cepts and sys­tems of colo­nial­ism. They use Hong Kong na­tivism mem­o­ries to co­or­di­nate with such colo­nial moder­nity, and they feel no iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the “one country” sys­tem.

Since Hong Kong re­turned to China in 1997, these elite have set up their cul­tural dom­i­nance in Hong Kong, based on Western cul­tural ad­van­tages and me­dia net­works. They re­main vig­i­lant against pa­tri­otic ed­u­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tion on the country’s pol­i­tics and his­tory. They iden­tify with the UK, and even be­lieve that Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy comes from the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s en­deavor in the Sino-bri­tish Joint Dec­la­ra­tion. They wel­come the UK’S con­tin­ued in­ter­fer­ence in Hong Kong, com­pletely ig­nor­ing the ba­sic his­tor­i­cal fact of Hong Kong’s re­turn to China. These elite nei­ther don’t un­der­stand the Chi­nese cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s con­sti­tu­tional de­sign, nor the real ba­sis of Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy, pros­per­ity and stability. Al­though they know it is im­pos­si­ble to make the city se­cede from China, they started political move­ments again and again. The move­ments have been ve­neered by democ­racy so as to gain sup­port of for­eign forces.

The so-called com­plete au­ton­omy is their long-last­ing goal but Hong Kong’s se­ces­sion is op­por­tunis­tic – they can wreak havoc in the country even though they fail. These elite and youth ed­u­cated by them want to prove they are aligned with the West by rad­i­cally op­pos­ing their own country. They rush to “the end of his­tory” re­gard­less of the fu­ture pro­posed by the great re­ju­ve­na­tion of Chi­nese na­tion.

Deeply af­fected by rad­i­cal ideas, Hong Kong elite have been com­pletely wrong in un­der­stand­ing the “one China, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and the na­tional strat­egy. “Five demands” pro­posed by rad­i­cal protesters aimed at par­a­lyz­ing the SAR gov­ern­ment and ex­empt­ing protesters. They in­tend to call white as black and claim the SAR gov­ern­ment is to­tally wrong, the po­lice are re­spon­si­ble for all the chaos and that protesters are right and in­no­cent.

They place ab­stract free­dom and demo­cratic val­ues above the rule of law in Hong Kong, seek­ing their ex­treme political goals by break­ing the bottom line of rule of law. These elites want to es­tab­lish an an­ar­chic sys­tem in Hong Kong to re­place the executive-led sys­tem es­tab­lished by the Ba­sic Law. The ex­treme political power grab has de facto be­come a color revo­lu­tion in Hong Kong.

In the anti-ex­tra­di­tion bill chaos, these Hong Kong elite act as mis­sion­ar­ies of Western val­ues, which have dom­i­nated the demo­cratic con­cept and move­ments in Hong Kong un­der the pol­icy of “one China, two sys­tems.” Such be­ing the case, they would cer­tainly op­pose the in­te­gra­tion of “two sys­tems” in ev­ery as­pect rang­ing from sys­tem­atic link like the ex­tra­di­tion bill to eco­nomic con­nec­tion like the Guang­donghong Kong-ma­cao Greater Bay Area.

Their mis­un­der­stand­ing of China’s de­vel­op­ment is drag­ging down the city. These elite have be­come hur­dles to the city’s de­vel­op­ment and gov­er­nance, and they are pay­ing a heavy price for be­ing out­dated.

They must up­date their con­cept of the new era, rere­c­og­nize China and the world and go in line with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment so that they can main­tain their lead­er­ship and in­flu­ence in Hong Kong. Oth­er­wise, they will be marginal­ized to­gether with the de­cline of the West. The au­thor is as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Bei­hang Univer­sity in Bei­jing and mem­ber of Bei­jing-based Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Stud­ies. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Il­lus­tra­tion: Liu RUI/GT

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