What you need to know
Pro-democracy politicians issued a declaration on April 21 affirming their stands regarding Hong Kong’s future. The declaration lays great emphasis on autonomy issue and calls for peaceful movements in Hong Kong. However, other parties, including the Demosistō, still hold concerns about the real effect of negotiations with the Beijing government.
Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang
Hong Kong scholars Brian Fong Chi-hang and Max Wong, authors of the book “Reform Hong Kong,” have signed a declaration with other 30 politicians regarding Hong Kong’s future.
The declaration was published today on the fanpage of Reform Hong Kong. Some politicians from the Civic Party, Democratic Party and Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL) also signed the declaration. The 30 politicians include Raymond Lee, Eric Lam Lap Chi, Ho Kai Ming Kalvin, KEN Tsang, Alvin Yeung and Tanya CHAN, all of whom are famous Chinese democracy advocates. The group is mostly middle-aged, and considered part of a different group from the new generation of activists in Hong Kong.
The declaration points out that the pro-democracy camp in the 1980s expected mainland China to gradually develop its democratic system. Therefore, under the “One country, two systems" principle, they supported increased democracy of Hong Kong under China’s rule.
However, in the last 30 years, the Chinese government has not moved towards democracy. The hope held by the pro-democracy advocates was shattered in 2014, when the National People’s Congress of the PRC decided to restrict their elective rights.
The declaration lists four different points (simplified below):
1. Guarantee the exercise of autonomy under the Basic Law:
According to the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong, Hong Kong was guaranteed the basic rights of autonomy. However, there are still some unfair codes in the Basic Law, which Chinese officials use to restrict Hong Kong’s freedom. Therefore, the signatories call for amendments to Basic Law to reinforce protections regarding human rights of the Hong Kongese.
2. Internal affairs decided by Hong Kongese:
According to Article 3 of the joint declaration between the UK and the PRC, China promised that Hong Kong could enjoy 50 years of wide decision-making rights after 1997. The signatories anticipate that the political status of Hong Kong should be determined by Hong Kongese under a highly developed democratic system. Allowing Hong Kongese to decide their own internal affairs is beneficial for them to become more independent in the future.
3. Clarifying the “Hong Kong recognition":
The declaration also writes that, since Hong Kong’s central recognition should be determined by their residents’ cultural values, they consider all people residing in Hong Kong as Hong Kongese regardless of their race.
4. Non-violent protests are the key to success:
The last point affirms that non-violent protests, such as strikes, boycotting or occupying the parliament, are the methods accepted mostly by Hong Kongese and that these types of movement can unite Hong Kong citizens. The signatories even state that they embrace discussions and negotiations with the Beijing government under the principle of openness and transparency.
Opposite opinion holders remain concerned
The news was published by the Stand News, who mistakenly included Demosistō as one of the signatories, but later corrected the information immediately. Demosistō wrote to clarify their stand in this issue.
According to the post, Demosistō agrees with the declaration’s emphasis on the exercise of autonomy, but does not think negotiations and discussions would change the current condition. They call for more self-consciousness among Hong Kongese to exercise real autonomy.
Gakky Nam, a netizen who commented on the declaration of Reform Hong Kong, was wary about the transparency of future negotiations. She mentions the consensus reached between the pro-democracy politicians and Chinese officials last September, when a communicating group to exchange messages with the central government was set up. Nam accuses these politicians of not supporting Hong Kong’s efforts to establish its own constitution in 2014.
Edited by Edward White
In Media HK