Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Democracy is not the real issue

By Lau Nai-Keung (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-03 09:30

The 'choice' proposed by some radicals in Hong Kong is not genuine because it denies the irrefutable reality that the SAR is part of China

On Sunday, after meticulous deliberation - and with input from Hong Kong members - the National People's Congress Standing Committee reached a decision on the framework for political reform in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The same evening, a number of organizations announced a series of confrontational actions in response. This signifies the beginning of a showdown predestined since the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984.

Despite appearances, democracy is not the real issue at stake here. If local lawmakers are willing to move forward and pass the political reform bill that the government proposes, all Hongkongers will be able to vote for the chief executive in 2017. Nobody has ever doubted this. However, the controversy has long shifted to the issue of nomination. Radicals from the opposition are now claiming that if the nomination mechanism falls short of their demands, the form of democracy that results will be a "fake" one.

On the surface, the dissidents' demands seem innocent enough. They want all Hongkongers to have a "genuine choice", to be able to nominate and elect whoever they want. Senior officials from the central government, on the other hand, have repeatedly reiterated this is not what is stipulated in the Basic Law. Much of the discussion has revolved around the Basic Law. But the truth is, the majority of Hongkongers have no interest whatsoever in the legal merits of the claims by either side. To them, it is the substance that matters.

And the substance is about Hong Kong's position in China - "One Country". Yet not many people in Hong Kong are paying much attention to Beijing's message that national security is the most important priority when considering democratic reforms for the election of the chief executive in 2017, or the repeated assertion that China will not tolerate perceived attempts by foreign powers to interfere in the election to gain a foothold in the country. This really is the crux of the matter.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News