Crush HK independence drive

Updated: 2012-10-27 07:44

By Chui Ning (HK Edition)

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Chen Zuo'er, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, recently posted comments on a mainland-based online forum, including his view on the rise of political forces seeking "Hong Kong independence". He noted that Hong Kong has indeed seen in recent years a political movement advocating "Hong Kong independence" in various guises, spread rather quickly like a virus. He cautioned that people need to be on high alert and be prepared to eradicate these notions in the SAR.

Chen made similar remarks last month when he came here, for the publication of a new book he wrote about his experience as a member of the Chinese delegation in negotiations with its British counterpart, over the handover of Hong Kong's sovereign rule back to China.

Chen knows Hong Kong's history and present conditions, thanks to years of working as a member of the CPPCC Standing Committee and deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. His concern is very much justified, because Hong Kong society is actually faced with such a challenge and the central government is also watching its development closely.

The "Hong Kong independence" movement did not appear out of the blue. Its roots can be traced back to the days spanning the handover in 1997, when two forces representing the new and old Hong Kong fought fiercely for dominance. The ideological battle left the desire for "Hong Kong independence" on the sideline to grow, through grooming by forces representing the interests of Western powers. Its existence and resurgence are also the result of negligence by local society in general and indulgence by certain political parties and individuals.

Different from "Taiwan independence" as well as "Tibet independence" and "Xinjiang independence" on the mainland, the "Hong Kong independence" movement has remained hidden from public view. All prominent opposition parties avoided advocating it openly and directly, while the movement itself never carried out any destructive moves openly against the establishment. This different approach is more elusive and deceptive and therefore more dangerous and potentially more destructive.

The "Hong Kong independence" movement exists under a myriad of disguises and in very complex forms without a clear focus just yet. Its manifestation is seen mainly in the awareness of the notion and its spread. One of the more pronounced expressions of "Hong Kong independence" is misinterpretation of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, by favoring "Two Systems" over "One Country". It is designed to turn Hong Kong into an independent political entity, particularly apparent in misrepresenting the relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the central government.

Another form of such expressions is picking on the social system of the mainland to justify the destruction of "One Country, Two Systems" and to make Hong Kong a base for subversive efforts against the central government. Yet another form of such attempts is challenging the constitutional authority of the central government over the HKSAR, by stressing its "judicial independence" while ignoring the fact that Hong Kong's judicial system is part of the country's judicial system.

The most glaring of such attempts is demonizing the interpretation of the Basic Law by the NPC Standing Committee. The latest variations of "Hong Kong independence" rhetoric are opposition to the moral and national education program in the name of rejecting "brainwashing" and "chihua" (Communist autocracy). Concerted efforts are being made to block the cross-boundary economic integration of Hong Kong and Guangdong, by opposing and delaying related development projects.

Given the uniqueness of Hong Kong society, it is not yet possible to eradicate the "Hong Kong independence" underground completely, because the social, statutory conditions and public awareness are not yet ready. That doesn't mean the "Hong Kong independence" movement should be left to foment and infect. Efforts must be made to prevent it from poisoning people's minds and undermining the "One Country, Two Systems" exercise at the expense of Hong Kong's stability and prosperity.

The SAR government should hold its ground on important issues, while patriotic forces should unmistakably support the SAR government on policies crucial to Hong Kong's long-term development.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator. This is an excerpted translation of his column published in Ta Kung Pao on Oct 26.

(HK Edition 10/27/2012 page3)