16th April, 2014
Hong Kong Independence: Notion that Enlightens Hong Kong’s Democratic Movement
Lin Fei-fan, a student leader of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, said in an interview that he thinks that comparing to Taiwan, Hong Kong is a more matured civil society. However since Hong Kong is under the control of One-Country-Two-Systems, the political situation has been dragging its democracy advancement. He said, “Hong Kong does not only need universal suffrage, Hong Kong needs to go independent”, believing that Hong Kong independence is the only way forward for Hong Kong’s democratic movement.
Hong Kong independence has never been seen as a realistic option, not even when Hong Kong was under British rule. Not only this, but Hongkongers have always been apolitical, those who are political only care for China’s political issues. Since China’s traditional “Greater-China Unification” concept is deeply rooted in Hong Kong, “unification” is natural and righteous but independence is heinous treason. Hong Kong independence is not the only taboo, Taiwan independence, Tibet independence and East Turkistan independence are all taboos. Those who support independence are always being labeled as being “backed by foreign powers” and are seen as sinners of the Chinese race. Neither Chinese nor Hongkongers could escape from this ideology. Chinese activists are against Communism and the Communist Party, but whenever it comes to Taiwan or Tibet independence, the deeply-rooted “Greater-China Unification” mindset surpasses. Some Chinese activists who visited Taiwan and met with Democratic Progressive Party said to DPP that Taiwan independence is an ideology that is based on the lack of democracy in China, if China is a democratic nation, the unification of Taiwan and China is only natural, and there is no need for an independent Taiwan. DPP representatives, however, said whether or not China is democratic has nothing to do with Taiwan and the bottom line is there is no need for Taiwan and China unification.
In 2000 when DPP became the ruling party, Hong Kong Legco moved and voted for the motion on “opposing Taiwan becoming independent”. All Legco members, including the pan-democrats supported the motion, only Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee abstained. Whether or not Taiwan becomes independent has nothing to do with Hong Kong, but Hong Kong’s general public had been opposing Taiwan independence. A poll conducted last month shows that 58% of the younger generations in Hong Kong support Taiwan independence, the overall poll shows that the majority of Hong Kong opposes Taiwan independence. Only 14% Hongkongers support East Turkestan independence, with 65.9% people oppose it. This clearly shows that the “Greater-China Unification” ideology remains the mainstream from the general public to pan-democrats. Hongkongers do not support Taiwan and East Turkestan independence, they cannot possibly support Hong Kong independence.
The word “independent” came from the world “dependent”. The autonomy of independent is dependent, not united which refers to the opposite situation “separated”. An independent person means that he has independent thinking, personality, his own consciousness and free will. It does not mean that he can self-sustain, but rather his behaviours and choices are not determined by others.
China has been under autocracy for over 2,000 years. Same as what Lu Xun said, people are either in the era of “temporarily satisfied with the state of slaves” or “wish to be slaves but failed”. Both states show that people are living on and relying on the autocrat, which is the state that is the opposite of independent. Chinese natural “Greater-China Unification” inclination is constructed by the long-term autocracy. In the recent 60 years, China has only becoming more autocratic.
The most important criterion for a nation to be democratic is the majority of the society has to have independent consciousness and free will. In the early days of Taiwan, supporting Taiwan independence is seen as treason. The society does not tolerate any tangible actions that support Taiwan independence, nor the very discussion of it. Not until after The Formossa Incident in 1980, a defendant proposed at court that: Taiwan and Taiwanese have the right and freedoms to promote Taiwan independence. Since Taiwan was under the international spotlight, such proposal that concerns freedom of speech (rather than tangible actions) was approved by the government. And only after this, Taiwan independence became a legitimate subject for discussion in Taiwan. The society had also begun to shake off the “Greater-China Unification” ideology. In 1992, supporting Taiwan independence began to be recognised as a demonstration of freedom of speech, and Taiwan’s democratic movement started to take off.
Hong Kong independence and Taiwan independence are the same. They are both perspectives that should be protected under freedom of speech. They are not tangible actions that can be executed and Hong Kong nation and Taiwan nation will not be established based on discussions in the societies. Proposing independence is to help the society to break away from the “Greater-China Unification” ideology, which is an enlightenment of democratic movement. In fact, One-Country-Two-Systems, high degree of autonomy and Hongkongers to govern Hong Kong detailed in Basic Law are basically nurturing Hong Kong’s independent governance, instead of promoting Unification. Mao Zedong said in 1920 that “break through from the big China with no foundations and establish many small Chinas” because “in the 4,000 years of history, China has always been about big structure, big scale and big policies which led to superficial strength with weaknesses deeply rooted within, glorious on the surface but corrupted beneath…” Some proposed a federal government back then, but Mao believed that China needed to establish multiple “nations” (poleis) before formulating a federal government, and supported the establishment of multiple “nations” in China.
When referencing to history, when China was in a separated state, people had a better life. However, when China is unified, people suffered from the most severe exploitation and suppression. “Greater-China Unification” restricts people’s ability for independent thinking and creativity. During Spring and Autumn and Warring States (700 BC – 221 BC, also referenced as “Period of Disunity”), Chinese culture was at its peak. North of Italy was separated into multiple poleis in the 14th Century, and it was the world renowned Renaissance period when culture was at its most flourishing time. People who claim to support democracy yet being confined by the “Unification” ideology are in fact those who cannot detach themselves from relying on autocracy – in essence, they beg for democracy from the autocrat in order to gain a tiny amount of power and a roof over their heads.
In all of human history, has there a single place that ask for democracy from the authority and successfully be granted their wish? None. Any democracy in the world has to be rooted locally, and be fought for with the spirit of independence before it could be realised. What really causes Hong Kong’s democratic movement becoming more difficult by day? Lin Fei-fan said that “Hong Kong independence” is the only way forward for Hong Kong’s democratic movement is not unrealistic and certainly not an ungrounded comment. This is something that Hongkongers, especially the pan-democrats in Hong Kong, should brood over.