The Chinese regime shouldn’t see the people of Hong Kong as bitter foes, says a local financier, because they are only asking for what has been promised to them.
Hedge fund manager Edward Chin believes that most Hongkongers are happy to stay a part of the mainland under former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s “one country, two systems” model and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
That’s what the “10 requests” made by a group of pro-democracy Hong Kong finance professionals to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) really are about.
On Jan. 22, the 2047 HK Finance Monitor, a newly rebranded group, took out a quarter page political advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, Asian edition.
Addressed to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the “requests”—for example, Beijing should “refrain from interfering” in Hong Kong’s administrative affairs; defend the city’s freedoms; “create and facilitate” universal suffrage in Hong Kong— are all “things enshrined in the Basic Law.”
“It’s important for Beijing to know that our requests are not something out of the ordinary,” said Chin, the organizer of 2047 HK Finance Monitor, in a Skype interview with the Epoch Times.
“Xi Jinping should hear the voices of the people.”
The group’s ad comes at a crucial time in the local political scene. The Hong Kong government is currently holding a public consultation on a restrictive set of democratic reforms that pro-democracy supporters protested against in a 79-day long street occupation from September to December 2014.
The 2047 HK Finance Monitor is formed from an earlier group of financiers and bankers who supported the Occupy Central civil disobedience initiative for democratic reform in 2013.
The “2047” in the name references the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which allows Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” to rule itself, keep its way of life, economy, and various rights and freedoms for a period of fifty years after the British transferred sovereignty over the city to Beijing in 1997.
Respect ‘One Country, Two Systems’
If Hong Kong is to remain a financial hub and a “truly international city,” says Chin, the Chinese regime should understand the “one country, two systems” principle and not seek to reinterpret it.
But mainland business practices like “guanxi”—the building of personal relationships via bribery and kickbacks so as to smooth deals—are starting to affect Hong Kong’s finance sector.
Business in Hong Kong, Chin told Epoch Times, should be conducted in an “honorable” manner with “fair play,” and not get mired in shady “guanxi.”
And to ensure good business practices, the Hong Kong government should assert the city’s autonomy and not “kowtow to a totalitarian regime.”
Country, not Party
Unfortunately, Beijing is choosing to view Hongkongers’ holding their government accountable and calling for democracy signs of wavering loyalty towards the mainland.
Chin notes that the June 2014 White Paper issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC)—China’s faux legislature—sought to address Hongkonger’s lack of “patriotism” towards the country.
In the White Paper, the NPCSC controversially stated that only people who “love China and love Hong Kong” can become Hong Kong Chief Executive candidates.
A new army cadet group set up by the People’s Liberation Army garrison base in Hong Kong seemed to be formed on the model of the White Paper. The group came under fire because its recruits had to swear an oath to “build up Hong Kong” and “serve the motherland.”
But Hongkongers do love China and its culture, says Chin.
They just “might not love the CCP” and its treatment of the Chinese people and dissidents, as well as the lack of a proper justice system and human rights.
And now, Chin says, Hongkongers are “public enemy no. 1” in the eyes of the Chinese regime.
Of course things could change if Xi Jinping heeds 2047 HK Finance Monitor’s “request”—allow proper democratic reform in Hong Kong, which would serve as a “blueprint” for “China’s progress towards democracy.”