Friday witnessed the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Seventy-two years ago, when the country’s leaders announced the establishment of the republic, they aimed at beginning a socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics. According to the founding members of the republic, democracy is an outcome of its political civilization that fulfills the common desire of mankind. This is exactly the essence of the democracy that is reflected from the Chinese government of the people, by the people, for the people.
COVID-19 has dragged down global economic development heavily, and people’s livelihoods everywhere have been drastically affected by the interoperability of restrictions imposed by the pandemic and economic stagnation. Despite the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese mainland has achieved virus containment with a growing economy and the alleviation of poverty. Such an exceptional height that Hong Kong couldn’t be able to reach. What’s worse in Hong Kong, the US sanctions and the new British National (Overseas) passport-led immigration have brought further uncertainty about the future of Hong Kong, once China’s most glorious and prosperous global city.
Thanks to the newly enacted National Security Law for Hong Kong and the improved local electoral system empowered wisely and resolutely by the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, Hong Kong has made efforts in changing the width and depth of governance methods and reorganizing its political ecology. The changes have undeniably made an unprecedented impact on Hong Kong’s democratic system and corresponding political culture.
Although the emergence of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the recently renewed plan for Qianhai are favorable for Hong Kong, the society has not yet fully seen the pivot in the context of regional development. Can our lost time and weakened advantages be made up for in the competition with rising modern cities in the region? While the negative impact from the 2019 social unrest and COVID-19 pandemic have gradually been contained, the prospects for Hong Kong are not completely clear. Hong Kong society may be faced with confusion and the people are wrestling with the way forward.
The sense of direction for Hong Kong’s future development should be reoriented with a crystal-clear view that its democracy has entered a new stage of rapid transformation. The ability to fully recognize and the mass acceptance of the new political election system still pose questions for many people, but the new system with an overarching authority has been apparently up and running since the Sept 19 Election Committee’s elections.
The reason for the change to a new election system initiated via a top-down approach is due to the previous alienation of democracy that is supposed to be working in Hong Kong, in the form of violence on streets and the anti-State players instigating confrontations in local politics. It resulted in an undesirably anti-China sentiment among many members of society, which inevitably led to massive destruction. As the new election system has unfolded, it is predictable that the new political election system will be carried out in a new way under the renewed governance framework of “one country, two systems” with the prerequisite of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
The subversive forces in Hong Kong have been colluding with external forces extensively to slander not only HKSAR’s democracy but also China’s, and sacrificing the future of Hong Kong for their political goals, even conniving in the sporadic appearance of “lone-wolf-like terrorism”. These shameful acts, unacceptable to the majority, should not be happening in Hong Kong, being part of China with the normative, open and rational qualities that a democratic society should have. However, the correction of Hong Kong’s democratic culture and political ecology will not achieve full effectiveness within the short term. It requires long-term mobilization and political wisdom.
The first election under Hong Kong’s new electoral system — the holding of the Election Committee elections — was settled smoothly on Sept 19. It was agreed with the fundamental principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, and those who have opposed the fact that Hong Kong should be ruled with patriotism have been eliminated from the race. It is the primary and essential goal of the electoral system’s enhancement.
Hong Kong’s renewed democracy showcases the central government’s determination constructed under the lawful framework of the Constitution and the Basic Law for the reconfiguration of the “one country, two systems” principle. The development of Hong Kong’s democracy should objectively respond to the Hong Kong society’s own needs and resolve the deep-seated social issues with a next step of integrating into the overall development of the country. We do not need an American democracy to “exemplify”, as China has its own civilization, system, scalability and ideals to pursue democracy with Chinese characteristics. Against the hegemonism and power politics, what has reshuffled in Hong Kong is a great rejuvenation of the unique democratic system under the special administrative region institutionalized and empowered by China’s central authorities.
The National Security Law and the new electoral system are the dual legislative protections for Hong Kong. The newly elected Election Committee and its future electoral power signify a new milestone for Hong Kong to renew its identity and head for pragmatism. “Patriots administering Hong Kong” started solving the problems of local political stagnation and distinguishing the Western conspiracy against China in Hong Kong that has existed for many years.
The shifting of the new paradigm in Hong Kong’s democratic system has been painstaking yet necessary. This will mark the beginning of a new democracy in Hong Kong with its own characteristics to ensure China’s sustainable implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The author is a radiologist and non-official member of the Commission on Poverty in Hong Kong.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.