Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Benny Tai on What's Breeding Separatism in Hong Kong (HKEJ)

"What is breeding separatism in Hong Kong?"
Benny Tai
EJInsights
19 April 2016
In recent months, our city has seen the birth of several political organizations led by young people. Their political pledges would probably have been regarded as unimaginable 20 years ago — namely, self-determination or independence for Hong Kong. Even though these organizations are setting their sights on the period after 2047 and are seeking neither immediate self-determination nor independence, in the eyes of Beijing they have already crossed the line.
     The ideas of self-determination and independence are fundamentally different from each other. Self-determination often refers to a situation in which a particular group of people who share the same cultural or ethnic identity seek their constitutional right to determine their own governmental affairs and to make their own decisions on particular issues. What they want is autonomy rather than becoming an independent state, as opposed to those who are calling for full independence.
     Self-determination is often the result of a referendum, whereas independence may be achieved either by referendum or revolution. As far as Hong Kong is concerned, people who are in favor of self-determination might not necessarily agree with the pro-independence cause. Some of them might be against the idea of secession from China, especially more moderate voters, such as many in the middle class.
     Still seeing Hong Kong as part of the People’s Republic of China, they are dismayed at Beijing’s continued interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and its violation of the principle of “one country, two systems”, and so they are seeking a way to defend our autonomy, promised under the Basic Law, and trying to put things right. By contrast, pro-independence organizations are calling for Hong Kong’s secession from the mainland and becoming an independent city state like Singapore.
     Here I don’t intend to take a stand on either self-determination or independence, nor am I going to analyze the feasibility of these options. What I want to do is to find out the root cause for the sudden rise of the pro-self-determination and the pro-independence sentiment in Hong Kong.
     In fact, the rapid rise of such sentiment has its roots in the so-called “831 resolution” announced by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on August 31, 2014, regarding the arrangements for the 2017 election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, and the failure of the subsequent Occupy Central movement... Click here to read the full article.

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