China plays the ‘patriot’ card to crush Hong Kong’s opposition

Beijing uses an ideological bulldozer to plow through the ‘One Country, Two System’ model in the city

What a way to crush the opposition. In a plan to stack Hong Kong’s mini parliament with Beijing-backed candidates, pro-democracy politicians will be ruthlessly culled.

Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, did China’s bidding on Tuesday and endorsed the decision to ensure that only “patriots” sit in the legislative chamber and on district councils.

She simply parroted the view fleshed out by Xia Baolong, the deputy chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the powerful State Council.

The move will be seen as the final ideological bulldozer that plows through the “One Country, Two System” model agreed between China and the United Kingdom before the British handover in 1997. A Beijing-imposed national security law has already stifled political debate, gagging freedom of speech in the city.

“It is crystal clear we have reached a stage where the central authorities will have to take action to address the situation, including electoral reform. I can understand that the central authorities are very concerned. They don’t want the situation to deteriorate further,” Lam said at a regular media briefing.

She was referring to the summer of discontent in 2019 and sporadic demonstrations last year by the pro-democracy movement. More than one million people took the streets in mainly peaceful protests in a call for greater democracy in Hong Kong.

The facts:

What was said: “This need to change the electoral system and arrangements in Hong Kong is for one single purpose, that is to make sure that whoever is governing Hong Kong is patriotic. It applies to various aspects of the political structure, including the executive, the legislative, the judiciary, the district councils and the civil service,” Lam said.

Delve deeper: The remarks made by Lam were scripted in an earlier address by Xia, the head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. His comments at a video symposium on Monday confirmed that only “patriots” would “govern Hong Kong.” Again, he was reiterating the policy mapped out by his boss President Xi Jinping. “The principle of ‘patriots governing Hong Kong’ must be upheld to ensure the steady and sustained implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’” CGTN, the state-run television network, reported, missing the absurdity of the sentence.

One Country, One System: China’s latest claustrophobic chapter in the history of Hong Kong will have a seismic effect on the city. Political debate has effectively ended. Next on the list will be to muzzle the independent judiciary system. On the mainland, the ruling Communist Party controls all the levers of power, such as the government, the police force, the judiciary and the media. Hong Kong is being brought into line with Party policy. 

China Factor comment: The world must not abandon Hong Kong and the young pro-democracy activities calling for change. They did not demand “independence,” a lie constantly repeated by the CCP. All they wanted was the right to vote for an increasing number of legislators and the chief executive, which is hand-picked by Beijing. Instead, most of the high-profile figures, such as Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, are now languishing in prison. Back in 1775, Samuel Johnson uttered the famous quote that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Today, it has never ringed so true when it comes to Chairman Xi and his Party underlings.