One Country Two Systems FAIL

“One country, two systems” – it’s the motto of China’s two SARs (Special Administrative Regions), Macau and even more considerably, Hong Kong.   Without it, we’d just be… well, China.  But we’re not, or are we?

When the 1997 handover (1999 for Macau) took place in Hong Kong, many fled for more democratic pastures, shall we say — like Canada, UK and the US.  All feared the undemocratic regime of China, and thought it best to leave, completely untrusting of the alleged “two systems.”

Then most people saw Hong Kong was the same as ever, and the Hong Kong religion of money prevailed.  Eventually, mostly after the SARS pandemic, many returned and restarted their lives again in HK.  And of course, you have many happy expatriates like me, who have come to Hong Kong to make a home, for however long, whether it be a number of years or even decades!

Adherence to the motto, however, is critical for the well-being of the millions who choose to make Hong Kong their home (or at least for those of us who have a true choice).  And I’m sure any obvious changes will lead to yet another mass exodus.

I’m still not quite versed in all things LegCo (the Legislative Council), nor understand how delegates from HK to Beijing have any clout, but I have heard many say that they believed China’s hand has begun to get deep into Hong Kong life.

One recent example that got me thinking has to do with Hong Kong’s prohibition of Wang Dan, a former Tiananmen student protestor and activisit, from entering Hong Kong (from Taiwan, where he now resides) to pay his respect to his mentor, and democracy icon, Szeto Wah, who died earlier this year at the age of 79 from lung cancer.

Wang Dan openly promised not to speak to the press or media when he came to Hong Kong, and to leave immediately depart after the memorial services.  And yet, for no reason given, the Immigration Department denied him entry.  Wu’er Kaixi, another former student of Szeto’s, was also denied entry. Neither a representative from LegCo nor Immigration has commented (insofar as I’ve been able to find news since the story broke in late Jan.), and it seems no one in HK really cared!

The South China Morning Post apparently ran an editorial criticizing Wang Dan’s refusal into the country, but as far as I could tell – that was it! 

What are Hong Kongers getting up in arms about then?  Money.  In late February, Financial Secretary Tsang published the year’s financial plan, which included an injection of surplus into the people’s retirement fund.  When the people disagreed, Tsang actually edited the plan to instead give residents a straight up cash injection of HK$ 6,000 per person, plus some other income tax deductions.

I realize some economists would argue how this is not the best way to spend a surplus, but what more do the people want? I’m not too sure, but this is what incensed the Hong Kong public to gather in and around 10,000 in number one Sunday evening.

When the angry public began disrupting traffic and mounting in dangerous numbers, police began taking measures to diffuse the crowd, including using pepper spray.  Unfortunately, children, who were brought to the protests, were injured, as well as other adult protestors and police officers.  All in all, a not too pleasant sight.

But to me, this demonstration just looked so much more like a circus than anything elese, and all for what – money? If anything should have gathered 10,000 strong Hong Kongers united in protest it’s the denial of Wang and Wu’er from being allowed to pay respects to Szeto Wah.  This unexplained refusal is a serious sign of failure in the whole one country two systems motto, and is what will lead to even more serious problems in the near future, never mind 2047, when the SAR regime will officially end.

Further, this whole fight over Tsang’s financial plan bothered me even more since 1) I saw a lot of commercials seeking public comments on the new plan (HK is great about getting public comment on just about everything before anything happens!), and 2) Tsang did make a change immediately in response to public disapopintment.   I may be entirely in the dark about why the HK public are upset, to be honest, and even if the whole financial plan dealio is worth some outcry, I still believe the whole Wang refusal deserves it even more so.

Where are the true Hong Kongers at heart? Don’t you care what is happening in your government?  Or is it so — all HKers care about is their state religion — money.

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3 responses to “One Country Two Systems FAIL

  1. Pingback: (Not Quite) In the News… Protest in Central on Sunday August 21, 2011 | Because It's Time

  2. I just came across your blog today and figured this was worth commenting on, even if I’m several months late.

    I think your previous post on cage homes is a perfect response to what you’ve written here. The protests aren’t about greed and materialism – it’s more like shock and horror that the government would uselessly fritter away its surplus while so many people live in abhorrent conditions. The government’s failures in providing housing, healthcare, and education are some of the few things that the public can actually agree on, and so the budget is one of the few things that can get us out into the streets in numbers.

    I’m a staunch supporter of democracy here, but I think it’d be a stretch to say there’s a similar consensus throughout Hong Kong. Livelihood issues are far more likely to attract popular criticism.

    • Great comment Brian. I’m still trying to understand politics here, and it doesn’t always compute for me as an American. My impression, and do correct me if I’m wrong, is that the general public were much happier to get their cash rebate in this instance, than the original plan (was it not to inject it into the MPF or something? I’m admittedly hazy on this one). And that to me is a selfish and not publicly minded solution.

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