Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Xi Jinping Regime should return to Deng Xiaoping’s Hong Kong Policy
KANEKO Hidetoshi / Journalist

December 27, 2019
On December 8, there was a pro-democracy demonstration by 800,000 citizens (according to the organizer) in Hong Kong. Starting last June with 800,000 people opposing the introduction of the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters legislation Amendment Bill”, there have been a series of demonstrations in Hong Kong, with 2 million people taking part at one point.

Since then, as the clashes intensified between the radical protesters repeatedly obstructing traffic in urban districts and the police force, there has been a decrease in the number of participants in the citizens’ demonstrations upholding the principle of “peace, reason, and non-violence”. The police force arrested radicals in succession by wantonly deploying tear-gas grenades, water canons, and even by using guns loaded with live ammunition. It was said that the Police’s excessive crackdown on the radicals had another purpose, that is, to dissuade the general public from participating in the demonstrations.

However, 800,000 strong citizens’ demonstration recurred after the suppression of the hardcore protesters’ activities. Even after half a year, the number of people taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations shows no sign of decreasing.

Why do demonstrations on such a scale continue? It is because the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang National Revolutionary Army and the Communist Army, presumably settled 70 years ago, started smoldering again among their descendants.

The People’s Republic of China cerebrated its 70th anniversary in October this year. President Xi Jinping reviewed the military parade from a platform in Tiananmen Square. In the same place, Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of the New China 70 years ago. The Republic of China, that is, the Old China, lost its ruling power over the mainland at that point, and Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist Party fled to Taiwan. Afraid of the raging storm of the Red Army’s advance, millions of refugees flooded into safe, British-ruled Hong Kong.

The theme song of the American movie “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”, set in Hong Kong of that period, is a well-known classic still broadcast on radio today. The author of the original story, Han Suying, herself one of the refugees, left this aphorism widely cited by Hong Kong researchers: “Borrowed Place, Borrowed Time, Hong Kong”. Hong Kong is a place filled with the disquietude of the refugees displaced from the Republic of China.

President Xi’s father was a General in the Communist Army in the Chinese Civil War. President Xi wishes to “liberate” Taiwan and Hong Kong in his generation so as to complete the offensive left unfinished by his father’s generation in the Civil War. After assuming power, he declared the end of “the Den Xiaoping Era” and the beginning of “the Xi Jinping Era”. Furthermore, he plans to take Hong Kong and Taiwan under Chinese sovereign rule between this year (the 70th founding anniversary) and 2021 (the 100th anniversary), and to enter his 3rd term at the 20th National Congress in 2022. His ambition was thwarted by the Hong Kong demonstrations. Infuriated, President Xi issued a stern order to the Hong Kong government to suppress the demonstrations.

On the other hand, the majority of Hong Kong citizens are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the refugees who had been displaced by the Communist regime. Although they lost their guardian, Britain, when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, they relied instead on Deng Xiaoping’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy. But Xi Jinping’s administration changed the interpretation of “One Country, Two Systems” to de facto “One Country”, which ignited the fear among Hong Kong citizens. If the wall of “Hong Kong autonomy” collapses, the People’s Liberation Army might break through the Taiwan Strait next. The slogan of Hong Kong demonstrations, “Today’s Hong Kong, Tomorrow’s Taiwan” spread to Taiwan, and the Democratic Progressive Party, which had rejected President Xi’s interpretation of “One Country, Two Systems” attracted support from Taiwan voters.

The ultimate demand of the Hong Kong demonstrators is to introduce a direct election of the Chief Executive. But what has driven most citizens into demonstration for such a long period of time is their fear toward the Communist Party. Unless China switches to a more tolerant Hong Kong policy, demonstrations will continue indefinitely.

Then how should the neighboring countries face Hong Kong from now on? The US “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” enacted in November is well conceived. The United Stated established a system where it will annually check the Hong Kong government, not the Chinese government, for the level of “One Country, Two Systems” attained, and if found insufficient, the favorable treatment given to Hong Kong could be cancelled. The US sent a signal toward Xi’s administration to return to the rules of the Deng Xiaoping’s Era, thus avoiding a head-on collision with China.

Before democratization demanded by the Hong Kong People becomes a reality, the fastest way for Hong Kong to regain its stability is for China to return to the generous policy of Den Xiaoping’s time and give Hong Kong a sense of security. As China’s economic growth slows down, President Xi may well realize before long the negative impacts of his own Hong Kong policy.

What is compelling is the desperate state of mind of Hong Kong’s young generation. Feeling that the time for “the Borrowed Place” is running out, there are signs that young Hongkongers are choosing to emigrate to countries such as Australia. With the loss of the young people, the Hong Kong society is certain to lose its vibrant energy. Surrounding countries including Japan are bound to respond.

Hidetoshi Kaneko is a Contributing Editor for Mainichi Shimbun Newspaper.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

金子 秀敏 / ジャーナリスト

2019年 12月 27日





当時の香港を舞台にした米国映画「慕情」( 原題、Love Is a Many Splendored Thing)の主題歌は今もラジオで流れる名曲だが、難民の一人だった原作者、韓素英(Han suying)の言葉も香港研究者に引用される名句だ――「Borrowed Place, Borrowed Time, Hong Kong」(借りものの土地、借りものの場所、香港)。香港は、中華民国を追われた難民の不安が満ちている土地だ。







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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Xi Jinping Regime should return to Deng Xiaoping’s Hong Kong Policy