by Fong Yuen
The communiqué issued by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party used distilled down to the phrase “prosperity and stability” for the party’s policies for Hong Kong and Macao. It is vague and empty, shooting without aim. For a national development plan that is thinking ahead to 2035, such distillation seems lazy and out of place. For a ruling party to have such a lack of regard, lack of imagination, and lack of planning, the CCP seems irresponsible.
This indifference proves two things: one is that the CCP is plagued by many problems that it is busy tackling, therefore the Hong Kong and Macao issues have been relegated to irrelevance; two is that the CCP is indecisive with regards to its Hong Kong and Macao approach. It is in a dilemma and does not know how to proceed.
For one, since last year, the relationship between the U.S. and China has slumped, and as the CCP is being besieged by the Western countries, its earlier internal circulation model has evolved into a dual internal and external circulation one. The many flaws in the larger policy direction show that the CCP is indeed in an impasse; the great external propaganda, Belt and Road, 2025, and Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) are all facing unprecedented setbacks at the moment, and it takes a lot of effort to clean up the mess. Therefore, under the complex severe climate, the Hong Kong and Macao problems appear insignificant and only deserve minimal effort for show.
Two, since last year, Hong Kong has been facing unprecedented turmoil. Society is seriously torn, and the relationship between the government and the people is horrendous. The National Security Law coupled with the epidemic, although violent conflicts on the streets have ceased, civil grievances have deepened and the social atmosphere has been very strange. Hong Kong’s international status has plummeted and likely irreversible. The CCP is at a loss of what to do, and therefore is buying time by setting this problem aside.
Consider “prosperity and stability”, the former must be built upon the latter. Prosperity is the guaranty for stability. The two should complement each other, but unfortunately the CCP has treated “one country, two systems” as the biggest joke and lie of the century. When the government and the people despise each other and are divided as such, extreme societal conflicts have resulted. Taking it even a step further, the CCP implemented bloody suppression which normalized riots. An international financial center thus has become a center of turmoil. It was almost overnight that stability and prosperity were flushed down the toilet.
With prosperity gone forever, Hong Kong’s stability is facing all the deeply hidden dangers. With the CCP’s breach of international contract and aggressive expansion, the U.S. and the Western world can no longer recognize Hong Kong’s one country, two systems. Hong Kong lost its special tariff status, and its status as an international financial center is threatened. Hongkongers passively resist, and all fingers point to the government. Society has lost its cohesion, and foreign capital and institutions have been withdrawn, business is difficult and the market is depressed. The internal and external environments are rapidly deteriorating.
The National Security Law was forced upon Hong Kong when the CCP mistakenly thought that strict laws and penalties would stabilize society. What an illusion of such “stability”. When people’s hearts do not belong, the government has no authority. The Pearl of the Orient is on a self-depleting roll. The citizens in resistance are dissatisfied and depressed, seeing that righteousness is being trampled on, and fellow brothers and sisters are being persecuted after the fact. Hongkongers live their lives in indignation and fill their days with curses. At the same time, the business and professional sectors have been crippled by the National Security Law. One country two systems have been shattered, and the coming days are dangerous. It is difficult to be patriotic, but what is one to do if not be patriotic? Even within the pro-establishment camp, it is a mess. Carrie Lam, with her stubbornness, does things her way. Every party has its own fear, no backbone, and is at a loss for direction. In the current troubling times, Hong Kong is shattered, with no future ahead but chasing soldiers behind. Both the people and the government is praying for a miracle.
The CCP is well aware of this predicament, but also has no way to resolve this. The National Security Law suppressed the resistance, but if it continues with its strict suppression of Hongkongers, it will forever lose the opportunity to reconcile with them. If the CCP lowers itself to reconcile with Hongkongers, it is possible to lose control of the situation again. On the other hand, Carrie Lam is already a negative asset to the CCP. The longer she is kept, the harder it is the blow to the CCP. However, it is easy to discard her, but where to find a replacement? Within the officialdom, there are not many reliable people, and fewer are the ones that can be sacrificed. Carrie Lam is now a tumor of Hong Kong. Removal would lead to the loss of blood, keeping it would be detrimental to life. In such a situation, what a difficult choice between advancing and retreating. Better just to wait and see.
When frustration and grievances are building up within the pro-democracy camp and the distraction within the pro-establishment camp, the government and the people have nothing to say to each other. Police and triads are brothers. There is no consensus within society and no long-term development. This is like living-dead, and what prosperity are we still talking about? There is no more prosperity, and stability is just an unfulfilled wish.
Stability, by definition, is a good thing, but the context of the foundation must be considered. When stability is built on top of good politics and a harmonious society, it has deep roots and foundation, and has a promising, sustainable future. On the contrary, stability built on harsh laws and suppression is trampling on public opinion and a joke to public sentiments. It is not reliable, a kind of stability that can easily be demolished.
Both the CCP and Carrie Lam believed that under the National Security Law, riots are stopped, society returns to normalcy, and prosperity is to be expected. What a naïve misjudgment. Such calm and unpredictability before the storm, with the distant thunders and blanket clouds in the sky. The longer this is dragged on, the more dangerous the storm will be.
The CCP is in a bad place, and has no choice but to shelve the Hong Kong and Macao problem. “Prosperity and stability”, such empty words. Regarding our surroundings, where to?
Click here for Chinese version
Apple Daily’s all-new English Edition is now available on the mobile app: bit.ly/2yMMfQE
To download the latest version,
Or search Appledaily in App Store or Google Play