To the world’s surprise, Beijing has reneged on its word without hesitation and disqualified four pro-democracy lawmakers ferociously. Beijing’s game plan is to eradicate Hong Kong’s opposition forces swiftly and inconspicuously when the US is busy dealing with the fierce confrontation between Democrats and Republicans over the presidential election result. Beijing aims to clear all obstacles for a complete control of Hong Kong and to accelerate the pace of integration between Hong Kong and Mainland China.
The Greater Bay Area project with Shenzhen designated as the core driver of developments is a political mission ordered directly by President Xi Jinping
If it is successful, the Greater Bay Area will become the world’s largest and most prosperous bay area economy with the most comprehensive and integrated industrial structure. Hong Kong is the key to the success of the Greater Bay Area initiative. To suppress Hong Kong’s opposition forces while the western world is watching has become the primary task of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. As the US presidential election is not yet finalized and the US is overwhelmed by its own problems, it is indeed a golden opportunity for China to step up its control of Hong Kong.
However, the mass resignation of 15 pro-democracy legislators has disrupted Beijing’s scheme, making Hong Kong the focus of the world again. Europe, the UK and US have all condemned Beijing severely. US Secretary of State Pompeo has slammed China for eliminating nearly all of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy and neutering its democratic processes and legal traditions. He pledged to continue to work with allies and partners around the world to champion the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and will hold accountable the people responsible for those actions and policies that erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms. The UK has summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest the disqualification of the four pro-democracy legislators and threatened to sanction at least four Hong Kong officials. As a result, Beijing has become infuriated and vented its anger on the pro-democracy camp. It condemned the mass resignation as an “open challenge” to the central government aiming at mutual destruction. It warned that the resigned lawmakers are “destined to ruin their political future,” implying that they would not be able to stand for election again.
However, no matter how vigorous Hong Kong or the Western world may react, Beijing will not slow down its suppression of human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. All sorts of long-term, medium-term and short-term national security policies and patriotic measures will be expedited. The disqualification of the four lawmakers has set a very bad precedent in that Beijing has bypassed the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Legislative Council, and allowed the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to make major constitutional decisions for Hong Kong directly. So, what’s Beijing’s next step? Zhang Xiaoming, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council has hinted at it.
In his speech at the Basic Law 30th Anniversary Legal Summit organized by the Department of Justice of Hong Kong, Zhang pointed out that those who are patriotic and love Hong Kong govern Hong Kong, while those who oppose China and create chaos in Hong Kong should be out. This is both the political rule and the legal norm. He added that “patriotism” should be put before the core values of democracy, freedom and human rights and he was happy to see that the Hong Kong government is working hard to improve the civil service oath system, the national education system, and the legislative council member qualification review system. In the future, the judicial system will also usher in a reform.
In other words, the next step is to incorporate patriotic standards into the judicial system so that Beijing will have full control of Hong Kong courts. Therefore, very soon, Hong Kong judges will be required to take oath and attend patriotic training courses. The days are counting for their complete wash out.
(Poon Siu To, veteran journalist)
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