Friday, March 18, 2016

Michael Davis on the Survival of the Rule of Law in Hong Kong (SCMP)

Michael Davis
South China Morning Post
17 March 2016
Hong Kong is increasingly locked in a perception gap that has come to colour nearly every aspect of political life.
     National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang (張德江 ) and other Chinese leaders have taken to lecturing Hong Kong on maintaining the rule of law. We are told “street politics could tarnish Hong Kong’s image”. The implication is that protests are the primary threat to the rule of law.
     The reasoning involves a mainland version of constitutionalism and the associated rule of law that sees it primarily as the people and government carrying out the policies and directives of the Communist Party. This theory explains why the Beijing leaders are often quoted as supporting the constitution and yet have tended to jail people who support a more functional constitutionalism.
     In Hong Kong, this central government commitment to the rule of law is guided by the principle that Hong Kong people accept without question Beijing’s interpretations and directives concerning the Basic Law. Hong Kong resistance was said in the white paper on Hong Kong to reflect a “confused and lopsided” view.
     Hong Kong’s people and its courts adhere to a different version of the rule of law. This version has long held that top officials are bound by the same rules that govern the public at large. Under such a standard, nobody is above the law and everyone is subject to the law applied in the ordinary manner. The central and Hong Kong governments taking excessive liberty with the meaning of the Basic Law does not meet that standard. Such an approach elevates their expedient preferences over the reasonable meaning of the commitments expressed in the words of the Basic Law... Click here to read the full article.  Separately, Professor Davis was also interviewed by Time for the article published on 16 March 2016, "Students at Hong Kong's Oldest University are Calling for the City's Independence" by Simon Lewis.

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