Hong Kong political system
Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI) in Hong Kong
The demonstration on Sunday 1 February from Hong Kong’s Victoria Park was the first mass mobilisation since the epic Umbrella Revolution. The crowd, estimated by organisers at 13, 000, marched under a sea of yellow umbrellas – in a protest that was in many ways a tribute to the 79-day mass occupation movement of last autumn.
The march, postponed from the traditional New Year’s Day rally, was organised by the Civil Human Rights Front under the slogans, “Our Hong Kong we save, our government we choose”, and “No fake democracy, we want real universal suffrage”. The heavy police presence of 2, 000 officers was – as ever – nervous about possible fresh occupy actions breaking out, although this was unlikely so soon after the events of the autumn.
The weeks since the Umbrella Movement have seen the government’s position hardening with a raft of proposals intended to counter democratic demands. These range from attempts to reintroduce in a disguised form the patriotic education plan that was resisted by massive protests in 2012, to the denunciation of a student magazine on ‘self-determination’ that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accused of “advocating independence” for Hong Kong. These initiatives have been accompanied by constant pressure from the Chinese (CCP) dictatorship claiming that “national security” is endangered by democratic demands in Hong Kong.
Most ominously there is a renewed push – in speeches by Beijing and Hong Kong politicians – for the introduction of draconian anti-subversion legislation in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law. Executive councillor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who as security minister in 2003 failed to implement Article 23 in the face of mass opposition, is the latest figure to call for legislation citing increasing threats of “foreign interference” in Hong Kong’s politics. Ip is actually arguing for a tougher version of Article 23 to include a ban on political groups with links to foreign organisations.
The intensified counterattack from the pro-government camp also serves to ramp up the pressure on the bourgeois pan democratic leaders, to test their resolve over a threatened veto of the government’s election plan. In August, when the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) handed down its ruling over Hong Kong’s 2017 elections, the pan democrats gave the impression of a solid front in rejecting what amounts to a rigged Iran-style election system involving only handpicked candidates for the head of government (Chief Executive). But recently the Beijing and Hong Kong governments have become more hopeful that some of the pan democrats can be pressured into breaking ranks. Only four defections from the pan democratic camp could be enough to obtain passage of the NPC reform plan in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco).
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