Recent political moves have proved to a noted Hong Kong journalist and commentator that mainland authorities are in the process of gradually eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Ching Cheong, known for his courage during a thousand-day-long imprisonment in China, has called on Hong Kong residents to cherish Hong Kong’s core values. He also urges them to stand up together to fight against the trend of “communization,” which Ching says leads to Beijing calling the tune while Hong Kong’s freedoms pay the piper.
Ching expressed alarm at the a Dec. 12 request made by the Hong Kong Department of Justice that the city’s Court of Final Appeal seek guidance from the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in Beijing, on the “Basic Law,” which is considered the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) mini-constitution.
At issue was the “right of abode,” which is often used by mainland mothers to ensure that their child will have a chance at permanent residency in Hong Kong.
The idea of going to Beijing is anathema for many in Hong Kong, concerned that the influence of the mainland in the city is already too great. Asking central authorities for an interpretation would “set a damaging precedent,” Eric Cheung, an assistant law professor at the University of Hong Kong, told the Wall Street Journal.
Ching’s alarm deepend on Dec. 18 when Zhang Xiaoming was appointed as head of the People Republic of China’s Liaison Office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR)—the Liaison Office is similar to an Embassy.
Zhang recently remarked that Hong Kong should pass the controversial Article 23. The Basic Law Article 23 gives the Hong Kong government broad police powers in the name of fighting subversion, powers that critics say would erode constitutionally protected rights. First proposed in 2002, it was withdrawn in 2003 in the face of massive protests.
The South China Morning Post has reported that; “Some critics had feared that the Basic Law could be used to suppress organizations which disagree with the government and his [Zhang Xiaoming’s] remarks outraged pan-democrats in Hong Kong, who took the report as a sign the central government will tighten its grip on the special administrative region.”
Zhang has also accused “external forces” of helping in the resurgence and unity of democracy-oriented parties in Hong Kong.
The recent changes in Hong Kong, Ching Cheong said, given this alarming trend, were as expected. Not only does allowing the Basic Law to be interpreted by the National People’s Congress exceed its legal scope, but also, since Leung Chun-ying became the Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong SAR Government has been increasingly “communized.”
For example, before Leung Chun-ying traveled to Beijing to report his work, a number of chief secretaries for administrations and bureaus had visited Beijing, something which had never been seen before.
Ching Cheong said that in the past, the chief secretaries went to Beijing to report their work only at the end of each year, but now the Communist Party requires them to do so regularly. This is a significant change, but one not stipulated in the Basic Law.
Another change is how the appointment of SAR government officials has been altered since Leung Chun-ying took office.
“I know that several new cabinet officials of the Leung Chun-ying government had gone to Beijing to accept ‘confidential instructions’ before Leung Chun-ying publicized the officials’ appointment list,” Ching Cheong said.
Ching Cheong said that both the 18th National Congress report and the current Liaison Office Director Zhang Xiaoming’s article have made it clear that the Communist Party’s policy towards Hong Kong is one that will gradually communize it in the future.
“The two systems will be gradually, slowly transformed into one. My viewpoints—the ideology is communized, the Liaison Office rules Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong government is filled with leftists—were published in my article shortly after Leung Chun-ying came to power,” Ching Cheong added.
In the communization process, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has transferred a large number of its Party members into Hong Kong. Ching Cheong said that a conservative estimate of the number of Party members sent to live in Hong Kong is 400,000.
He said that since the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the CCP has begun sending Party members to Hong Kong with its “transition based on strength” guideline. Especially after the June 4 incident in 1989, millions of Hong Kong people took to the streets, which made the CCP more nervous and caused it to send more Party members to Hong Kong through the one-way permit and “family reunion” quota.
“If two-thirds of the quota of 150 people per day were used by the CCP, then from 1983 to 1997, there would have been more than 300,000 Party members who were sent to Hong Kong. Together with the local communists in Hong Kong, the total Party members is approximately 400,000.” This figure was estimated by comparing the number of representatives from Hong Kong and Macao participating in the 18th National Congress to representatives from other regions.
Ching Cheong also pointed out that the CCP’s not-so-subtle communizing Hong Kong is an obvious reflection of the the CCP’s totalitarian nature.
“The CCP’s operating mode, by which it tries to govern and control everything, unknowingly communized Hong Kong because the CCP’s core ruling concept is to control everything. This concept of totalitarian governance made the CCP intervene in Hong Kong’s affairs in all aspects.”
Especially for the 18th National Congress, the CCP unprecedentedly announced publicly that the 16 delegates from Hong Kong and Macao must attend the meeting as a separate group, and “stressed, with a very high profile, that two of them were native locals. By doing this, I think that the CCP more or less has revealed the extent to which its (CCP) influence and significance has gradually grown in Hong Kong.”
Ching Cheong urged Hong Kong people to treasure more the core values of Hong Kong. He said, “All the civilians should be mobilized to fight against the communization trend.”
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