The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China turned 22 at the stroke of midnight on July 1. In the past year, Hong Kong made remarkable achievements in its efforts to further integrate its own development into the overall development strategy of the country.
On Sept 23, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) officially began daily services. A month later, on Oct 24, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) officially opened to traffic. This symbolized a step closer to completing the one-hour living circle encompassing the Hong Kong and Macao SARs and the most economically vibrant area of the Pearl River Delta.
All the excuses they made up to justify their objections to the co-location arrangement have been proved groundless since the XRL started normal operations. The fact is that letting mainland authorities operate a one-stop checkpoint inside the XRL terminus poses no harm to the judicial independence of the HKSAR while making passengers’ trips by high-speed train a lot more enjoyable.The opposition in Hong Kong went out of their way before the opening of the XRL to obstruct approval by the Legislative Council of the co-location arrangement, which allows mainland immigration, customs and quarantine departments from neighboring Shenzhen to operate in a leased area inside the XRL terminus at West Kowloon.
Some Hong Kong residents are either unable to see that the center of gravity of global power is shifting from the West to the East or reluctant to accept this reality ... There will no doubt be more illegal campaigns — possibly worse than any we have seen. But the HKSAR must not stop moving forward simply because of intimidation like this
The opposition also hoodwinked a retiree into obstructing the construction of the HZMB with a judicial review based on “environmental concerns”. The court case delayed completion of the whole project for months and wasted a huge amount of taxpayers’ money. Today, while enjoying the benefits of the HZMB, Hong Kong residents should never forget the financial losses caused by the opposition camp.
Of course, the official opening of the XRL and HZMB were not the only achievements Hong Kong made last year. They are brought up here because earlier this year the SAR government submitted the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, commonly known as the extradition law amendment bill. However, the government had to suspend the legislative process indefinitely due to severe obstruction by the opposition camp.
Obviously the incident is undeniable proof of an adjustment in US strategy to target China as its main rival. For 21 years, Hong Kong was a channel of contacts for the mainland and US-led Western countries but also a “bargaining chip” for the latter to make demands from China. In the last year or so, however, Hong Kong has been turned into a “battlefield” for the US to wage an all-out campaign aimed at containing China’s peaceful development.
The US Congress is currently deliberating over the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019. Once passed, it will allow the US government to determine whether the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy is ensured and then decide to extend the US-Hong Kong Policy Act accordingly. It will also authorize the US government to provide various forms of protection for members of the opposition who broke the law in Hong Kong, such as those charged with criminal offenses committed during the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014 and found guilty by Hong Kong courts. When they apply for US visa at any US consulate general, the latter can grant their request without considering their criminal record and notify other Western nations of their “special status” according to US law. Once the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019 is passed by the US Congress and signed into law by the US president, the US government will be allowed to nullify any provisions of the US-Hong Kong Policy Act when the SAR government restarts the legislative process of a local law regarding national security according to Article 23 of the Basic Law, unless Washington is “satisfied” that the legislation will not restrict the individual rights of Hong Kong residents or foreign nationals in Hong Kong.
With the China-US relations being affected by a shift in US strategy toward the mainland, the implementation of “one country, two systems” in the HKSAR has inevitably been thrown into the choppy waters of international politics. It was at this critical moment that the extradition law amendment legislation suffered a major setback. This shows the SAR had underestimated the difficulty in passing it and also that some Hong Kong residents do not understand the changing international situation.
The SAR government tried its best to explain the proposed amendments to the extradition laws to major Western powers — but to no avail. This is because the real goal of these powers is to weaken Beijing’s leadership over Hong Kong. Some Hong Kong residents have been brainwashed with Western ideology and convinced their lives are closely linked to Western countries in many ways. They are either unable to see that the center of gravity of global power is shifting from the West to the East or reluctant to accept this reality. As a result, they chose to oppose the extradition law amendment legislation.
What happened at the Legistlative Council complex on July 1 symbolizes the opposition camp’s desperate attempts to derail “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong. The pillaging and defacing of the LegCo building is but a small part of the US-led Western strategy to obstruct China’s progress by messing up the HKSAR. There will no doubt be more illegal campaigns — possibly worse than any we have seen. But the HKSAR must not stop moving forward simply because of intimidation like this.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Everbright Holdings.
HONG KONG NEWS