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Home / Business / Five years ago Saturday, a turning point for Hong Kong and China

Five years ago Saturday, a turning point for Hong Kong and China



HONG KONG – In many places around the world, a single date marks seismic events that are turning points in recent history, such as the 9/11 attacks in the US or the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November for Europe , For the post-colonial Hong Kong, the turning point fell on 31 August 2014.

At that time, a leading Chinese government agency announced a plan for limited democracy in Hong Kong. Beijing's decision fell far short of the claims of democracy protesters this summer, sparking a two-month occupation of several parts of Hong Kong known as the Umbrella Movement.

This year, protesters seized the following day: Simply as "the 31.08." known for their big march on Saturday, although an organized rally seems unlikely.

The authorities in Hong Kong have refused to give the demonstrators permission to repeat the recent clashes should the demonstration take place. The authorities objected on Friday, and the organizers of the march broke off the demonstration after they had not received the permit, although people would probably protest in some other way.

Some centrists in Hong Kong and Western political scientists suggested that adopting the decision of August 31 five years ago might have been helpful democratic cause and could still be a good option for the area. They argue that even if two or three Beijing allies appear on a ballot for a vote of all people in Hong Kong, those candidates would become less per Beijing during the election campaign. They could compete with each other to promise more democracy in order to get the most votes in public.

"If they want to win a popular vote, they would have to choose a policy that is closer to the political center," he told David Zweig, a long-time political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The decision of August 31 gives Beijing the final word on who will become CEO. After the parliamentary elections, Beijing would decide whether to elect the winner of the parliamentary elections as chairman of the board. If a candidate is too critical or promises Beijing too much in the election campaign, he may not be appointed, said Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the Hong Kong and Macao Association of China, an elite, semi-official advisory body founded by Beijing.

"Beijing does not allow anyone to appear accountable to the people of Hong Kong over its accountability to Beijing," Lau said.

] The decision five years ago was a compromise in Beijing between moderates willing to tolerate a certain democracy in Hong Kong and hardliners less willing to admit it. The compromise should go far enough to meet Hong Kong's Democratic demands to forestall the impending occupation of the streets in the fall – a goal that could not be achieved with the compromise of resorting to violence. But Beijing has changed since then. President Xi Jinping was in office for less than two years at the time of the Standing Committee's decision and continued to consolidate power.

In the years since then, he has lifted a constitutional restriction of two terms as President, allowing him to remain in office indefinitely. He has replaced almost all leading military and security officials by loyal people. Human rights lawyers were sentenced to long prison terms and Internet usage in mainland China was more tightly controlled.

Democrats of democracy still hope that Beijing will make them a better offer. "I hope Beijing will understand if you make a concession, it's not a sign of weakness, but a sign of a great power," said Emily Lau, a democracy-oriented legislator.

However, some Beijing hard-liners over Hong Kong politics have begun to question whether concessions to democracy supporters, such as enabling parliamentary elections to control Beijing's candidates, are still needed.

Lau Siu-kai said because the Standing Committee has never overturned the decision, it remains available in the books and theory for Hong Kong.

"It's still available because it's the national law," he said, adding, "I do not see this as a possibility that the 31st of August would be accepted by the Democrats."


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