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Hong Kong opinion leaders oppose emergency legislation

Posted September. 02, 2019 07:28,   

Updated September. 02, 2019 07:28


On Saturday night when pro-democracy protesters clashed with the police paralyzing traffic in Hong Kong, Johnny Lau, former Hong Kong journalist based in Beijing, said in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo that Hong Kong government officials had complained that their opinions go unheard as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is doing nothing to resolve the issue. Even if there are different views within the government, officials are not being able to disclose them, he added.

Opinion leaders in the former British colony differed in their views on the latest Hong Kong protests, but all opposed the use of emergency legislation, which was hinted by Lam. Prof. Lau Siu-Kai of the Chinese University of Hong Kong who had headed state think tank “ Central Policy Unit,” expected that the country will not enter into the emergency state (which would necessitate the emergency laws) in a short period of time.

Those in the pro-Beijing, pro-government party as well as the opposition pro-democracy party agreed that if the Carrie Lam administration accepts at least one out of five demands from protesters, namely an independent investigation into police, they could have hopes to resolve the issue, according to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmaker James To. Protesters are also calling for a complete abolition of the extradition bill and the rioter-related regulation, an unconditional release of protesters, and a direct election system. The lawmaker pointed out that demonstrators would not expect all of the five demands to be met, and that up to 80 percent of them would not take to the streets if an independent probe and the withdrawal of the extradition bill are accepted.

Though it is a very difficult time, if well resolved, this could rather leave a good example of the “one country, two systems” approach Beijing is seeking as a solution to unification issues with Taiwan, the lawmaker said. “Yet, if this issue is not resolved in a desirable manner, not only Taiwan but the entire world won’t accept the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”

Lau expected the upcoming one month until Oct. 1, which marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese government, will be significantly important for Hong Kong. He expressed concern that those within the Beijing government seemed determined to curb protests, as they said that China, at the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, won through even though the world tried to blockade Beijing. “If Hong Kong is destroyed, there will be no ‘one country, two systems’ principle and the result will be more serious than the Tiananmen Square demonstrations,” he said.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com