Tuesday, October 15, 2019

[EJinsight] Time for authorities to shed their stubbornness

In recent years, there has been growing concern among the international community as to whether the “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong is deviating from its original path as laid down in the Basic Law.

Amid this, the foreign relations panels of the US Senate and the House of Representatives have pushed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and the bill is scheduled to be put to vote in Congress sometime this week.

Once passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump, the legislation will provide legal basis for the US government to impose sanctions on people who are deemed violating basic freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong.

In my view, if the Hong Kong administration really wants to reverse the prevailing impression among the international community that the territory is gradually becoming no different from just another city in mainland China, and restore public faith, what it needs to do is undertake concrete actions, rather than embark on publicity stunts, such as running a promotional short video urging Hongkongers to treasure the city, as it is doing now.

Unfortunately, all that the authorities did in recent months was take steps that further undermined international confidence in the “one country, two systems”.

For example, before the government invoked the colonial-era Emergency Regulations Ordinance to pass the anti-mask law, it denied American academic Dan Garrett entry to the city on Sept. 26.

Earlier in September, Garrett had testified at a hearing on Hong Kong affairs held by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

I believe what the international community wants to see is Hong Kong maintaining its status as a special administrative region that is different from the rest of the mainland, and where people are entitled to human rights protection and freedom of expression.

Sadly, the Hong Kong government and the police seem to be doing the opposite thing, as they take on Hongkongers and treat those with opposing views like they are enemies.

If Hong Kong is to have a chance, those in power must stop acting stubbornly and start facing the reality immediately by responding to the demands among the society with solid actions.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 30 2019

Translation by Alan Lee



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