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Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 10:24
Benny Tai's plan to destroy Hong Kong is despicable
By Ho Lok-sang
Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 10:24 By Ho Lok-sang

I  recently read a commentary about a plan devised by Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting of the University of Hong Kong to destroy Hong Kong and the good life of his compatriots on the mainland. I could not believe it. But to my dismay, that is indeed his plan. 

My immediate question is: Why would any Hong Kong person be so vicious? When he planned the “Occupy Central” movement, he wanted “to let love and peace occupy Hong Kong”. Why would someone who claims he loves Hong Kong be so vicious? 

Let us examine how it would work according to his plan. 

First, he coordinated the recent illegal “pro-democracy primary election”. The “primary election” is illegal because it is a clear violation of election rules by giving aspiring contestants for Legislative Council seats a head start, ahead of other potential candidates. The “primary election” took place before nominations were open, and engaged the public to vote for their preferred candidates. There is also the question of how to account for the expenses in the exercise, given that there is a limit to how much expenses are allowed in election campaigns.

Professor Tai aims at winning a majority in the legislature — more than 35 seats. I have no quibbles with that provided it is fair play and if the elected will go about serving the best interest of Hong Kong. However, instead of discharging their duties, Tai asked them to vote against the budget and to block all funding requested by the government. With no funds available, the government is expected to dismiss LegCo and call another election. Tai expects the “revolutionary camp” will again win more than half of the LegCo seats, forcing the chief executive to resign.

I can accept people holding onto their beliefs for whatever reason. This is their prerogative. But I cannot accept people proposing and promoting a strategy that points to social unrest and bloodshed and not offering a vision of how Hong Kong will fare better than today

Tai figures that Beijing would have to establish a provisional LegCo, appoint a new chief executive, and arrest political leaders in the “revolutionary camp”. This would provoke major social unrest and strikes, paralyzing the economy, eventually forcing a “bloody crackdown”, resulting in extreme sanctions on Hong Kong and the Communist Party of China. He likened this scenario to “holding onto the CPC while jumping off the cliff”. He wrote he could not imagine what would happen thereafter.

Instead of telling Hong Kong people how his strategy will bring about a better Hong Kong over the long term, he wrote he could not imagine what would happen next. I think this is utterly irresponsible. 

I can accept people holding onto their beliefs for whatever reason. This is their prerogative. But I cannot accept people proposing and promoting a strategy that points to social unrest and bloodshed and not offering a vision of how Hong Kong will fare better than today. I am dismayed that apparently many Hong Kong people subscribe to his strategy, as suggested by the 600,000-plus voters in the “pro-democracy primary election”. 

Someone with the stature of Professor Tai certainly needs to have a sense of social responsibility. He may disapprove of the one-party system on the mainland, but he cannot ignore the fact that people on the mainland are happy with the government. What right does he have to ruin their lives with a vicious plan?

A survey team from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University found that “compared to public opinion patterns in the US, in China there was very high satisfaction with the central government. In 2016, the last year the survey was conducted, 95.5 percent of respondents were either ‘relatively satisfied’ or ‘highly satisfied’ with Beijing”. This is much higher than Americans’ support for the federal government in the United States.

Similarly, another study from Dalia Research in Germany found that 73 percent of Chinese consider China to be democratic, but only 49 percent of Americans believe the same about the US. Dalia Research called the difference between how important people think democracy is and how democratic they think their country is the “perceived democratic deficit”. America’s perceived democratic deficit is 24 percent. That of China is a much lower 11 percent. The survey covered 124,000 people across 53 countries.

Many people critical of the CPC pointed to some blunders in the past, including in particular the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) and the “cultural revolution” (1966-76). But China today is not the China before 1979. Since 1979, there has been hardly any political campaigns launched by the CPC. Focus has been on poverty alleviation and economic development.

I understand why some people are wary about the new National Security Law. But I would urge that we had better wait and see how it plays out. Agitating over it will not help. We had gone through “Occupy Central”; we had gone through the fugitive law amendment bill. As a result of the agitation and violence, Beijing was forced into enacting the National Security Law. 

My reading is that as long as we stick to the Basic Law, Hong Kong will be fine. If the vast majority of mainland residents are happy with the central government, why should we fear that it will undermine our welfare? Under a “one country, two systems” framework, why can’t we respect the mainland’s political system, and abide by the framework for political reform as laid out in the Basic Law?

The author is a senior research fellow at the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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