13th March 2013
No Political Reform in China Means No Referendum in Hong Kong
The 1st Session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee concluded yesterday. Yu Zhengsheng, the new Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC, emphasised in his speech that the National Committee must hold fast to the leadership of China’s Communist Party and must never directly adopt the western political model into China. He also warned that members of the National Committee must “refuse/resist extreme stands that are blundering and stray from China’s conditions”. This statement has disappointed the world which had hope in the new Xi-Li government. Some PRC scholars also said that the so-called “never directly adopt the western political model into China” is a low level statement: “democratic constitutional government” does not exist in the West only – Communist China has been talking about it for decades. Refusing a political reform is an impasse, and “others will not stick with you to wait for the end together”.
China Will Have No Political Reform
Yu Zhengsheng: hold fast to the leadership of China’s Communist Party, refuses western political model
The 18th CPPCC confirmed the ruling of Xi Jinping (President) and Li Keqiang (Premier) (hence, the term Xi-Li government), and the public once had hopes in this new government as a number of statements they made and actions they took were quite different from what China’s Communist Party has always been. The public, therefore, expected to see progress in China’s political reform during the NPC & CPPCC. However, the speech delivered by Yu Zhengsheng yesterday (12/Mar/2013) was strong and harsh demanding the National Committee to “be unswerving and hold fast to the leadership of China’s Communist Party” and “must never adopt the western political model directly”, and “maintain a sturdy and correct political direction”.
Content to be Political Foil to Communist Party
The senior figures of China’s Communist Party once again publicly announced that the NPC and CPPCC are the “rubber stamps” and “political foil” of the Party. Both Jia Qinglin (Chairman of CPPCC) when delivering his progress report on 3rd March at the beginning of CPPCC, and Wi Bangguo when giving his progress report at the opening of NPC on 5th March, used words and phrases almost identical to Yu’s. Wu also said explicitly that CPPCC legislation “is to strengthen the (China Communist) Party’s ruling party status”.
Wu Jiaxiang, one of the brains during Hu Yaobang’s era, said “China has only adopted one Western political model, which brought calamity to the nation and its people” – indirectly criticising the Communist Party for copying Soviet Russia’s model. Wu also pointed out that the reason for the Communist Party to repeatedly emphasise the necessity of insisting the leadership of the Party and rejecting western (political) models is that the Party worries about it. Wu said that the Communist Party began to talk about freedoms, democracy, constitutional government, nationalisation of the army (the PLA’s oath is to service and be loyal to the CCP) and judicial independence as early as Yan’an Era (between 19/Oct/1935 and 23/Mar/1948), “why have all these now become western models and do not fit China’s conditions?”
Scholars call it “low level”
Yu Jianrong, a scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, commented that “never copy (the western model)” is a low level statement because political systems differ from country to country in the West, without a united model. Also, democratic constitutional government is not uniquely western as China’s Communist Party has been talking about it for decades. He said “not copying this, not going toward that, (The Party) always wants to preserve the system that allows the league of those in power to share ill-gotten profit. This is a dead-end route. People will not want to die with you!” Zheng Shiping (pen name: Tujia Yefu) ridiculed this stance, saying “if not copying the western model, how about learning from the eastern model? Say those in Taiwan, Japan and Korea.”
Some analyses suggest that since the 18th CPPCC began there have been voices coming out from the Party urging both political reform, and rejecting the western model. This shows that there is an intense competition between the “pro-reform group” and the vested interests “conservative group”. Jia Qinglin and Wu Bangguo are hand-picked and helped out by Jiang Zemin. Jia and Wu’s families, and those who sided with Jiang are the vested interests. Yu Zhengsheng achieved his current status because of patronage from Jiang’s group. Facing down such influences on his power, will be extremely difficult even if Xi Jinping wants to be “a brilliant leader”.
Hu Yaobang’s Son: Difficult for Xi to Push for Political Reform
Interviewed by a Hong Kong radio channel, Hu Dehua, son of Hu Yaobang (former General Secretary of Communist Party of China), urged China to push forward political reform. However, he thinks it is more difficult for Xi to push the reform compared to when Hu’s time in the 80s – it was not long after the Cultural Revolution, with more room for discussions, and there were more-open-minded senior officials including Zhao Ziyang and Xi Zhongxun (Xi Jinping’s father). It is a completely different era now.
The New Generation’s Knowledge is Unbalanced
Hu Dehua also pointed out that the new generation of leaders of the Communist Party were brought up under the Party’s education system and suffered from the Cultural Revolution, therefore their knowledge and eduction are not balanced. Hu said that Wang Qishan, Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, recently said in public that he must maintain the Party’s political discipline. This implies that (the Party) will forbid government officials to criticise the government, which is very worrying. He wishes Wang could clarify in public.
Recently, Hu Dehua has been urging political reform in Communist China. Early last month, he attended a seminar organised by Yanhuangchunqiu Weekly,where he criticised the Party for not striving for reform and said it could face the same fate as the Soviet Communists. In mid-January this year, he was interviewed by a Hong Kong newspaper and urged the Party to use Bo Xilai’s case to push forward a political reform. At the beginning of last year, he also talked about political reform in PRC with iSun Affairs, a Hong Kong magazine.
Hu Dehua, 63, is the third son of Hu Yaobang. Studied in Chongqing Telecommunication Institute during Cultural Revolution, then went to teach in Nanjing Institute of Communication Engineering. He joined the Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Science in 1986, and became a businessman afterward. He worked in real estate before running an energy technology company now.
No Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong
CY Leung Refuses to Begin Consultation on Political Reform
The pan-democrats in Hong Kong believes that the recent comment made by Yu Zhengsheng, the new Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC “China must never directly adopt the western political model”, means Peking will definitely push for a “fake universal suffrage” for the Chief Executive election. Henry Tang, a new standing committee member of the CPPCC, thinks that launching consultation on political reform next year could be “a bit tight”, and sufficient time is needed for discussion. However, CY Leung, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, continues to ignore the people’s demand to begin consultation. A number of pan-democratic Legislative Council members have said that the Chief Executive election must be a “true universal suffrage” that fulfills the international standard. They warned that if Peking adapts a strong attitude, more Hong Kongers will join the Occupy Central movement.
Rumours have it that Peking will include a “pre-election system” into the Chief Executive election in order to prevent pan-democrats from running for candidacy. The voice demanding the launch of a public consultation on political reform becomes louder. Yesterday (12/Mar/2013), CY Leung stated, prior to joining the Executive Council meeting, that he will “take responsibility for” the (future) Chief Executive elections, and insisted that the consultation will begin at the appropriate time. Fredrick KK Fung who met with CY Leung for breakfast yesterday quoted Leung that “there is still time and room to work on (the consultation of CE elections)”, the same statement Leung gave in the legislature recently.
Everything Depends on PRC Government’s Preference
On the other hand, Henry Tang said launching consultation next year may not allow sufficient time (for discussion) as relevant laws must be legislated by 2015. Launching consultation next year, according to Tang, “time wise, it will be very tight to complete the (political reform). Hence, like many Hong Kong citizens, I hope to have sufficient time to participate in this discussion”.
According to a source, prior to the Policy Address CY Leung had been whispering to the media firmly that he would not discuss the political reform (during his Address), and will not process this matter within this year, triggering public discontentment. Afterward, some senior government officials explained to the pan-democrats that there isn’t much for the HKSAR government to do at the moment on political reform as it all depends on the PRC government. If the PRC government loosens its grip, there will be room for discussion. Some pan-democrats said Yu Zhengsheng resents the democratic model recognised by the international community, and his stance on not adapting the western (democratic) model means there is no hope for Hong Kong to have a fair and representative electoral process: “There is no (democracy) in Peking, they would never give (universal suffrage) to Hong Kongers!”
Joining Occupy Central to Fight for Universal Suffrage
James To Kun-sun from the Democratic Party said that statements made by Yu Zhengsheng and CY Leung have cast a shadow over people’s hope in having a fair and representative electoral process in Hong Kong. “(We are not demanding) copying the western model, but a universal suffrage that fulfills the United Nation’s Human Rights Convention – an election with objective standards”. He added that Peking’s actions would only force the people of Hong Kong to fight, for example participating in Occupy Central. He called upon people of Hong Kong to fight for a fair and representative electoral process, and “say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done”.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai from the Neo Democrats rebutted Yu Zhengsheng’s statements, “we are demanding a universal suffrage that fulfils the international standard, it is not about adapting a ‘western model’ as there are democratic systems in the east.” He added that the longer the PRC government refuses to grant Hong Kong a fair and representative electoral process, the more fragmented Hong Kong society will become, because “even the scholars who traditionally take a mild stand and fell for previous trickery* think a negotiation will only result another betrayal, and should motivate people to demonstrate people’s power”.
*i.e. a fair and representative electoral process which has been denied twice by the PRC government, once in 2007 and most recently in 2012, despite being written in the Basic Law – the mini-constitution of Hong Kong SAR
Charles Peter Mok, legislative council member from the Information Technology Functional Constituency, said “there is no mention (of universal suffrage) in (Leung’s) policy address, it will be too late if we don’t start discussing it now!”
Plans to Adapt Peking’s Election Model for HK CE Election
Rumours during the NPC & CPPCC suggest that a pre-election will be included in the future Chief Executive election (CE election) in Hong Kong, allowing Peking to prevent any pan-democrats from standing. Some pan-democrats quoted sources close to Peking saying that the proposed pre-election is only one of the means to stop any pan-democrats from joining the CE election. Peking’s ideal blueprint for Hong Kong is to apply PRC’s differential voting system onto Hong Kong’s CE election, “which pro-government individuals can run for the office will be decided by Peking, people of Hong Kong have absolutely no say (in choosing who to be the CE)”.
Copying PRC’s Differential Voting System
A pan-democrat quoted pro-Peking individuals they met recently that “Peking is considering a lot of options, for example tightening the nomination process, (which means) people (who are not favoured by Peking) cannot obtain sufficient nominations.” It is believed that pre-election is not the only tactic PRC has for Hong Kong’s CE election in the future.
The same pan-democrat said Peking’s ultimate goal is not stopping pan-democrats to run for office, but to control elections in Hong Kong, “is to set heavy barriers so that (the Peking government) can control the election and would only allow pro-government individuals that they favour to run for candidacy”.
A pro-Peking individual said the blueprint the PRC government has for Hong Kong’s election is the differential voting system that is used in the elections of village and Party representatives in the PRC, “first the PRC government will come up with a list of candidates, who are all endorsed by the PRC government, then the election will be held. Having an election or not does not really matter”. This of course will produce an unfair and unrepresentative election where results are all known before the election is held. A CE being “elected” via this system will not be accepted by the general public in Hong Kong. Should Peking follow this route, it will certainly help pan-democrats to gain support from the community, enhancing their political bargaining power.