By Shen Du
The fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) opened in Beijing on Friday. Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of NPC, explained a draft decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the opening meeting of the session.
The explanation said that implementing the principles of “patriots governing Hong Kong” and filling up loopholes in the electoral system has allowed Hong Kong people to see hope for getting rid of their political conflicts, and let the world see China’s determination to ensure the sound and steady development of the “one country, two systems” policy and maintain Hong Kong’s stability.
It is the central government’s power and responsibility to lead the improvement of Hong Kong’s electoral system. The central government leads the improvement to ensure Hong Kong’s democratic system will develop more smoothly in a healthy way. Hong Kong people have been tortured by endless political disputes and social divides for a long time, and they have long desired that the central government take action to solve these issues. This is for the welfare of Hong Kong. And it is a matter of internal affairs for China.
However, complaints came from the outside world. Some Western politicians jumped to make indiscriminate accusations, and some public opinion organizations followed, quickly accusing China of “suppressing Hong Kong’s democracy.” The trick that turns things upside down reveals their ideological prejudice and ignorance of Hong Kong’s real situation. Who is the true defender of Hong Kong’s democracy? Who is disrupting Hong Kong’s political order, prosperity and stability? Slander cannot conceal the facts, and justice is in people’s hearts.
To comment on an issue, we must first figure out the ins and outs, otherwise the comment will be likely to be preconceived and not take into account other vantage points. Britain had ruled Hong Kong for more than 150 years. The 28 governors of Hong Kong were not democratically elected, and elections never sought out the opinions of the Hong Kong people. Governors were not responsible to the Hong Kong people. The Chinese who accounted for 98 percent of Hong Kong’s population were not been able to enjoy equal citizenship and political participation.
The return of Hong Kong to the motherland has truly started the process of democratic development in Hong Kong. Under the policy of “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong citizens have begun to be entitled to unprecedented democratic rights. If someone deliberately distorts historical facts, ignores the achievements of Hong Kong’s democratic development, and makes comments with prejudice, his actions would be described as subjective speculation with ulterior motives.
Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in 1997, the central government has always supported the development of democracy in Hong Kong, protecting Hong Kong residents to exercise their democratic rights in accordance with the law. However, anti-China instigators have deliberately distorted their understanding of the Constitution and Basic Law, wantonly undermining “one country, two systems,” and blatantly advocating “Hong Kong independence” among other wrongful propositions. Colluding with foreign anti-China forces, anti-China instigators are exploiting the loopholes in Hong Kong’s electoral system, instigating illegal and violent activities without scruple.
Their actions pushed Hong Kong’s democracy into disorder. Turbulence over proposed ordinance amendments resulted in ordinary citizens being lynched on the streets, with black terror lingering within Hong Kong society. By spreading prejudice and hatred, anti-China instigators are poisoning the social atmosphere. They are doing everything possible to question and deny the central government’s sovereignty over Hong Kong in spite of Hong Kong’s overall and fundamental interests. They even demand foreign sanctions on the central government along with the HKSAR government. Is this the democracy Hong Kong people look forward to? What future will Hong Kong have, if these anti-China disruptors of Hong Kong unrest are acting unscrupulously?
The reform of Hong Kong’s electoral system must be conducive to good governance in Hong Kong. The central government is taking decisive action to develop a democratic election system that conforms to the conditions of Hong Kong and reflects the overall interests of society, to ensure that patriots govern Hong Kong and kick out the disruptors from Hong Kong. This will push Hong Kong’s democracy toward a healthy, orderly and higher-quality level.
Ultimately, improving the electoral system is aimed at the very small number of anti-China instigators in Hong Kong, and at safeguarding the legal rights and interests of the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens. The central government fully respects Hong Kong’s pluralistic society, and shows understanding toward Hong Kong citizens. The central government’s tolerance and openness in improving Hong Kong’s electoral system is rare in the world. Some Western media say that emphasizing “patriots governing Hong Kong” means elected officials will all have the same views. This distorts the central government’s intention and ignores the reality of Hong Kong. This nonsense should stop.
A scientific electoral system is conducive to the development of democracy and unity. A bad electoral system can cause social divides and even split the country. Countries like Spain, Britain, Italy and Russia have all witnessed local elections harming national security. The US has also experienced social turmoil after elections, and is busy revising its electoral system. China does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and we also advise other countries not to make irresponsible remarks about the democratic development of our local administrative regions.
There is no unified model for democratic development. Improving Hong Kong’s electoral system in accordance with the original intention of the “one country, two systems” policy not only demonstrates the central government’s firm determination to implement “one country, two systems” comprehensively and accurately, but also demonstrates the central government’s sincerity in promoting the development of high-quality democracy in Hong Kong.
Shen Du writes for people’s Daily China.