Beijing’s Latest Move to Meddle With Hong Kong’s Democracy Could Backfire

November 13, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020

Commentary

Hong Kong has once again attracted international attention. The Chinese regime has disqualified four Hong Kong democratic legislators, leading to the resignation of 15 lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp. World leaders have condemned Beijing’s latest move in meddling with Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.

CCP Interferes With Hong Kong’s Democracy

On Nov. 11, the Standing Committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), passed a resolution that led to the disqualification of four Hong Kong legislators—Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, Kwok Ka-ki, and Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) might not have expected that its decision would have led the pro-democracy lawmakers to quit the Legislative Council (LegCo).

Beijing’s mouthpiece Xinhua immediately followed with an article attacking the four disqualified members, claiming that they “smeared the central government’s exercise of its legitimate constitutional power as ‘political suppression,’” “begged external forces for intervention and even sanctions that would only jeopardize the stability in the HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region],” and “colluded with external forces to intervene in Hong Kong’s affairs.”

Xinhua also claimed the “resignation en masse” showed that the pro-democracy lawmakers were pushing back against the central authorities’ overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

The CCP’s move is seen as undermining the legal agreement set out in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration which gives Hong Kong autonomy. Under the treaty, the CCP promised to guarantee Hongkongers basic freedoms not granted to mainland Chinese under the regime’s rule for at least 50 years after 1997 through the “one country, two systems” model.

World Leaders Call Out Beijing

World leaders have expressed concerns over the unseating of the four Hong Kong lawmakers.

The British government immediately summoned the Chinese Communist ambassador Liu Xiaoming to express its deep concern about the situation in Hong Kong. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. … The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms.”

Nigel Adams, the U.K.’s minister for Asia, said: “We will continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime.”

The European Union’s 27 governments said in a statement, “This latest arbitrary decision from Beijing further significantly undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle. … These latest steps constitute a further severe blow to political pluralism and freedom of opinion in Hong Kong.”

Australian Foreign Minister Marissa Payne issued a press announcement, stating that “Beijing’s disqualification of elected members of the Legislative Council has seriously undermined Hong Kong’s democratic process and system, as well as the high degree of autonomy stipulated in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party group of lawmakers working to reform the approach of democratic countries to China, also condemns the CCP’s breach of Hong Kong’s Basic Law and destruction of its autonomy.

U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien also criticized the move, saying in a statement: “‘One Country, Two Systems’ is now merely a fig leaf covering for the CCP’s expanding one party dictatorship in Hong Kong.”

It is foreseeable that the CCP proactively provoked confrontation. The United States could impose and a new round of sanctions on Hong Kong. The CCP is taking a huge risk.

Hong Kong Issue Highlights CCP’s Political Crisis

During a press conference of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Nov. 12, a reporter from AFP (Agence France-Presse) asked: “The U.S. has recently warned of further sanctions against China after four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers were disqualified yesterday. Other countries including the UK and Germany have also criticized the disqualification of these lawmakers. What’s China’s response?”

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “The issue of the qualification of the HKSAR LegCo members is purely an internal affair of China, and other countries have no right to make irresponsible remarks and interfere.”

The Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) has always been an obstacle to the CCP’s tyranny. Although this year’s LegCo election was cancelled on the grounds of the pandemic, what will happen next year? Beijing wants to abolish the election of the Hong Kong LegCo so that the CCP can elect its members directly and to ensure its one-party governance. The disqualification of the four pro-democracy lawmakers is just the first step.

The CCP will never feel at ease as long as the LegCo elections are still possible. Once the democrats take control of the LegCo, it would be hard for the CCP to control Hong Kong, and the effect might spread to mainland China. Any subtle disturbance could lead to a major crisis for the regime.

Yang Wei has been closely following China affairs for many years. He has been contributing political commentary on China for the Chinese language Epoch Times since 2019.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.