3rd April 2013
Not to be Threatened by Basic Law Article 18
Pan-democrats began to call for an Occupy Central civil disobedience movement shortly after the PRC government attempted to threaten the people of Hong Kong by getting individuals to talk about Article 18 of the Basic Law in public: The law says “In the event that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decides to declare a state of war, or, by reason of turmoil within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the government of the Region, decides that the Region is in a state of emergency, the Central People’s Government may issue an order applying the relevant national laws in the Region.”
People of Hong Kong should not be intimidated by this threat. Cross-referencing the PRC’s previous threats to Japan, Vietnam and The Philippines, it becomes clear that the stronger the threat is, the weaker the action. On the other hand, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the army of PRC’s Communist Party, but not a national army. The fact is that the PRC never abides by the law – not even its own, and so with or without Article 18 the PRC can send the PLA into Hong Kong (in greater numbers, they are already on the ground) any time. In theory, if the PRC wishes to do so, they could exterminate Hong Kong immediately. On the contrary, if the PRC does not wish to send in the PLA, even if there are hundreds of laws allowing so they would not do it. Hence, the PRC citing the Article 18 is only an empty threat to test the courage and bottom line of the people of Hong Kong.
Why wouldn’t the PRC government dare to (send PLA to Hong Kong)? The strongest card Hong Kong holds is not good heart, but Hong Kong’s international status and the hundreds of thousands of residents in Hong Kong that hold foreign passports. In addition, Hong Kong has become the vault of the Communist Party’s princelings, and a money-laundering haven for the government officials of the PRC. The formula powder shortage problem in Hong Kong has drawn global attention, how much more press would an invasion attract?
By the same token, if there is a riot in Hong Kong, the monetary channels for PRC government officials will be frozen. With the risk of economic meltdown, the PRC government will not dare to start a war nor would they dare to send their PLA troops (to Hong Kong). If it becomes an international matter, PRC’s economic miracle that is built on quicksand, will suffer from the panic withdrawal of international capital. This is a substantial problem the PRC did not have to face back in 1989, but now they could not risk triggering it.
The pan-democrats in Hong Kong are at a crossroads. Will they continue to be the frog in the “how to boil a frog story”, allowing Communist China’s colonisation plan to carry on – which will eventually make Hong Kongers to become the minority? Will they change their strategy, focus on local politics, and buy time to wait for the PRC to change? Or will they reject the totalitarian dictatorship through revolution?
It is a difficult choice. There are many problems yet to be resolved. Pan-democrats need to reflect on what they are and have been doing, what short-term and long-term goals they have for Occupy Central, and how to achieve these goals. After coming up with a clear answer and reaching a consensus, the pan-democrats can then execute their plan.