Beijing official Qiao Xiaoyang ‘made a rare appeal to Hongkongers to back the Communist Party’ over the weekend. A sample from the South China Morning Post story…
Hongkongers are free to practise their capitalist system in the city but they should support the Communist Party and accept that it is unconstitutional to oppose China’s socialist system despite their ideological differences, a visiting mainland legal expert said on Saturday.
…the city’s residents must recognise that Hong Kong is under China’s “unitary system”. …this meant the Basic Law … ultimately draws its authority from the country’s constitution.
“The Basic Law does not grant the right to oppose the nation’s fundamental system,”
“Does the [party deserve] support from Hongkongers? Ideological differences aside, I believe the answer is yes.”
He added that while the Communist Party welcomed scrutiny, it was “unconstitutional” for those in Hong Kong to “oppose Chinese socialism publicly”.
“If one allows the call of independence to exist and take root, it will eventually endanger ‘one country, two systems’,” Qiao warned. “So on this subject, we just cannot behave like an open-minded gentleman.”
He was echoing the substance of the 2014 State Council White Paper on ‘One Country Two Systems’. That paper was designed to manage expectations ahead of Hong Kong’s political quasi-reform. It marked the end of (the idea/pretense of) Hong Kong’s post-1997 autonomy, and fed into the Occupy/Umbrella protests. (As an aside, check out this prescient paragraph from that time.)
Qiao was speaking in the context of recent amendments to the Chinese Constitution, which, the SCMP notes, now defines the Communist Party’s leadership as ‘the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics’. He mentioned ‘socialism’ several times, and he also acknowledged Hong Kong’s ‘capitalist’ system.
This is confusing. China’s ‘socialism’ is code for one-party rule rather than a theory of communal ownership of the economy. To Beijing, Hong Kong’s ‘capitalism’ has been code for horse-racing, a free press, the absence of capital controls and other things that are not allowed on the Mainland. So Qiao could logically state that Hong Kong’s capitalist system is totally subject to China’s socialist one.
The fact that he kept mentioning Hong Kong’s ‘capitalist’ and distinct ‘ideological’ system is supposed to be reassuring: we permit you to be different, albeit totally subservient, within our hierarchical structure. Indeed, his whole approach was – by Mainland official standards – an attempt at being warm and fuzzy. Usually, the tone is simply menacing.
This probably reflects Beijing’s growing frustration at Hong Kong’s inability or refusal to comprehend. The CCP is so exasperated that it’s even trying to be nice.
It won’t work, because it is impossible to accommodate both the one-party system and pluralism in the same place. Beijing is insisting that certain opinions and words must be forbidden and eradicated – yet where Hong Kong is coming from, the notion of ‘illegal ideas’ is absurd.