Opinion | Hong Kong and its path to democracy
By Angelo Giuliano, Political and financial analyst
Hong Kong is a young democracy. Before its return to the motherland in 1997, it was a colony with absolutely no democracy, as all decisions were made by a governor working for the British Empire.
Before the handover, the British had made sure they would maintain influence well into the territory's future by keeping their agents (MI6) and other assets in Hong Kong long after returning it to China, a bit like "Operation Gladio" in Europe after WW2. It was important for the British to plant the seeds for creating division and chaos, capitalizing on the "divide and conquer" strategy the British empire had used so successfully over their colonies in order to maintain control through the "power of nuisance."
Countries like India and Myanmar are illustrations of other victims of this strategy.
Hong Kong adopted "one country, two systems" that guaranteed a certain degree of autonomy as long as the precondition of "one country" was fulfilled, meaning China's ultimate sovereignty over Hong Kong.
But foreign powers like the US and the UK had different plans for Hong Kong. In 2003, foreign powers were behind the opposition side attempting to block the enacting of Article 23 of the Basic Law, key legislation pertaining to the National Security Law barring foreign forces from meddling in Hong Kong's internal political affairs.
Such foreign meddling unfolded in 2014 through the so-called Umbrella Movement and again in 2019 when protests turned violent. Both were US-backed movements operating with blatant foreign funding coaching from the West in what is now clearly a US-China proxy war.
In 2020, the long-delayed National Security Law was finally passed providing the actual required pre-conditions for genuine democracy in Hong Kong to exist. Democracy should be a process of self-determination. What happens in China and its territories constitutes the nation's internal affairs and should be dealt with by the people living there and the people living there alone.
Any system adopted should reflect the people's own choices and not be influenced or dedicated by interests abroad in either Washington or London.
December 19, 2021 marks the first time Hong Kong has the Legislative Council election under the new National Security Law and in combination with other electoral reforms, and thus the first actual democratic election in Hong Kong. The system adopted by Hong Kong will be a mix of compromises that should be a good fit for both its culture and its economic realities. Previously it was a democracy hijacked by foreign elements and with a minority of politicians focused on opposing and filibustering any real progress as opposed to actually working together and compromising toward the mutual objective of working for Hong Kong's people and prosperity.
Hong Kong has adopted a mix of Western-style democracy with direct suffrage electing legislative power, but also with Chinese characteristics through a vetting process making sure only patriots can govern, all within a functional constituency system making sure a very representative LegCo is elected, avoiding the hijacking of Hong Kong politics by tycoons resulting in democracy of the 1% like what is found in the US.
Democracy should be a constant "work in progress" as there is no perfect formula or "quick fix" for any given political system. It should adapt as times change. What should ultimately make any given political system legitimate is its ability to deliver for the majority, the ability to produce results based on key performance indicators (KPI), and not merely crutch itself along from one election cycle to another on empty promises. Voters should not be left with voting merely for whatever they want to hear during campaign season with no assurances of ever actually seeing such promises kept. This leads to a vicious cycle of "electing and regretting".
For Hong Kong, the next LegCo term will be critical, now that all obstructions to genuine democracy have been lifted - including and perhaps especially with all foreign influence uprooted from Hong Kong's political landscape. Together with new electoral reforms, people will ask for tangible results from their elected representatives.
There are urgent issues to tackle such as affordable housing and other social and economic inequalities. This next term will be about a single word "delivering."
In recent days we have seen the circus that was Washington's "Summit for Democracy" attempting to push the notion of Western-style "democracy" as the only single system that should be adopted around the globe. This is quite a joke considering that polls in the US itself show a complete rejection of this fake democracy controlled by the 1%.
I wonder why the US would want to export a failed system abroad that is clearly not working even at home. Thinking in terms of US competition with the rest of the world, it only seems to make sense to export such a failed system to sow chaos and division to weaken the rest of the world.
On the other hand, maybe that is why China doesn't want to export its own "democracy with Chinese characteristics," a system of electing representatives while ensuring they ultimately deliver tangible results. Why would China export a successful system to its competitors?
Hong Kong could become a great model, serving as a bridge between China and the West. Hong Kong itself could benefit from both worlds as it has done throughout its history. Take whatever works from both sides and stay pragmatic. People will gain maturity in understanding what democracy is really about. People cannot "eat" freedom and democracy, but if they choose the right model of democracy, they can eat and otherwise prosper from the results it can bring, actual, tangible results, not endless empty promises.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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