Academics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have followed Hong Kong U in conducting politically sensitive public-opinion surveys. Newspapers report that the latest shows that Hong Kong people do not want independence, or that they do – depending on taste, editorial judgment and selective use of the data…
The poll results are pretty much what you would expect. Most Hong Kong people are realistic/resigned enough to accept the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ relationship between the city and the PRC. At the same time they oppose direct control by Beijing.
The traditional reading of ‘1C2S’ was that these were compatible, indeed much the same thing. However, Chinese officials have changed their stance in recent years, stressing that Hong Kong’s autonomy is limited and conditional. This is a reaction to/cause of the emergence of a loose localist/independence movement among the young. Which brings us to the angle: the younger generation are heavily more pro-independence than anti-…
The professor running the survey is coy about the possible reasons why, 20 years after the handover, young people oppose Chinese sovereignty. Perhaps he thought it provocative to list the ways Beijing has mishandled Hong Kong since 1997 – appointing administrations that primarily serve property tycoons and make housing unaffordable, breaking promises of democratization, flooding the place with Mainland visitors, clumsily trying to impose ‘patriotic’ education, undermining public institutions and the media, threatening rights and freedoms, intimidating and smearing critics, abducting book-sellers, etc, etc.*
A recent addition to this list would be the imposition of the entertainingly desperate requirement that Legislative Council election candidates sign a ‘loyalty test’. Even pro-Beijing think-tank guy Lau Siu-kai thinks it’s stupid, pointing out that it could backfire by concentrating voter support for a smaller range of radical candidates. In other words, the test will do what the pan-dem camp cannot manage by itself – trim the current bewildering array of opposition parties cannibalizing each other’s votes.
Lau patriotically explains that the geniuses behind this policy have no doubt considered this and concluded that it is worth the risk for the sake of national security. He also says it will win Hong Kong’s government brownie points in Beijing. The poor guy has always struggled to sound convincing. The fact that he is speaking about it at all suggests that he can see what is already obvious to those of us less attached to Leninist tyranny – that Beijing’s local Liaison Office is, idiotically, actually nurturing Hong Kong’s once unthinkable pro-independence sentiment.
*For anyone who missed it: a markets-related aspect of the Communist Party’s growing influence in Hong Kong here, with background here.
Thanks again for this badly-needed wave of sanity.
However… I’m instinctively mistrustful of too-subtle analyses, those that build too many hypotheses on each other. Lau SK’s straw man may be made of iron underneath, his frankness doubly or triply duplicitous.
The obvious result of the thought police’s triple treble kowtow test will be to split the already splintered dems et al, no leading-question survey needed there. But surely it will tend to isolate the more radical elements, those who refuse to sign? Which is what they want?
Dog packs invariably eliminate the singletons, then pick off stragglers and floaters, hoping to avoid a big showdown. A few endure for generations, but they usually fail through over extending, followed by internal feuds. Certainly facing them head-on is counter-productive unless you can nobble the no. 1, who rarely ventures out.
Whatever happened to ‘planking’ ?
The 15-24 year old poll is pretty stunning in that only 26% would be opposed to independence in 2047. It only takes 1/3 of the 33% “unsure” to make up their minds on the side of independence to give the “Localists” a majority.
Congratulations must go to CYL for his masterful first term as CE.
Surely CCP will see the damage that has been done and find a CE in 2017 capable of restoring some confidence in the Basic Law from a young HKer’s perspective.
Perhaps it is pro establishment candidates who should be taking an extra oath of allegiance to the “two systems” part of our constitutional settlement in order to stave off secessionism?
There is a natural assumption that high youth support for something makes it inevitable. However, were this really the case left wing parties would rule in every democratic country, since they almost always win the youth vote.
However, in this case, this kind of pattern is familiar from Taiwan, where indeed high youth support for Taiwanese independence (or at least identifying as Taiwanese rather than Chinese) has, over the course of 15-20 years, turned into support for it in the population as a whole – albeit with plenty of help from heavy-handed and threatening behaviour from the CCP towards Taiwan.