Beijing Speaks of a Meeting of the Minds: Why Not Begin with Hong Kong?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 7, 2014
Executive Summary: When Xi Jinping spoke recently about cross-Strait relations. he spoke of
a "meeting of the minds." An opportunity has arisen. The Hong Kong government has declared that
it will "postpone second phase consultation on political reform," and
that "the door is always open to dialogue." Beijing is not about to have
the Hong Kong government open the door to dialogue, yet refuse to give
an inch. Tanks cleared Tiananmen Square. Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts in
Thailand ripped the country apart, as did similar conflicts in Ukraine.
By contrast, current developments in Hong Kong offer an opportunity to
ease confrontation. Doing so may not be easy. But if Beijing really
wishes to ensure a "meeting of the minds" in Hong Kong over one country,
two systems, it must first enhance its own political credibility, not
merely demand that people disperse without giving an inch. Why not initiate a meeting of the minds, beginning with Hong Kong?
Full Text Below:
When Xi Jinping spoke recently about cross-Strait relations. he spoke of a "meeting of the minds." If Beijing is serious about this, why not begin with Hong Kong?
On Sunday night the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Hong Kong Government officials convened their first "preparatory dialogue meeting." Yesterday, Monday, was a work day. Occupy Central members announced that they would not disperse, but would clear the roads. For the most part, Hong Kong returned to normal. People could get to their places of work. Primary school students could get to their schools. The government decided not to disperse the gathered masses.
Amidst the struggle between the government and the people, this was an achievement worthy of recognition. It may be a turning point in the successive waves of confrontation between the government and the people. Contrast this with the masses in Thailand and Ukraine who stormed government buildings, or with the Tiananmen Incident. The Occupy Central movement has now reached a turning point. If a mutually acceptable solution can be found, the Hong Kong experience could establish a new paradigm for global democracy. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope that Beijing, the Hong Kong government, and the public will establish a model worthy of emulation, and turn a negative event in the history of Hong Kong into a positive event in the history of China.
The ball is now in Zhongnanhai's court. Beijing must seek a "meeting of the minds" with the Hong Kong public. As the Hong Kong Federation of Students put it, "Political problems requiire political solutions. Talks and compromise with the government are the only way. Beijing simply demand that the people disperse, while it refuses to give an inch." When pepper spray and tear gas fail to solve the problem, Beijing must seek a "meeting of the minds" with the people of Hong Kong. It cannot refuse to give an inch.
As we look back, we see that "sham universal suffrage" was merely the result of bureaucratic inertia. Why did Beijing insist that universal suffrage must be subject to "filters?" Why did it assume that "screening" could filter out "unpatriotic people who do not love Hong Kong?" As long as the relationship between Hong Kong and the Mainland remains the same, why didn't Beijing think it could not acquire an absolute majority under "genuine universal suffrage"? Why did it feel compelled to resort to tear gas and batons to maintain "sham universal suffrage"? During the Occupy Central turmoil, Beijing did everything it could to uphold "sham universal suffrage," a weapon that ripped Hong Kong apart. This revealed Beijing's weakness and timidity. It undermined the credibility of Deng Xiaoping's historic legacy of "one country two systems." By now Beijing must realize that tear gas cannot maintain "one country, two systems." The correct way is to seek a "meeting of the minds."
As matters stand, Beijing looks both weak and guilty. For example, Beijing invoked the "rule of law." It accused the Occupy Central movement of interfering with the conduct of daily life. But those advocating the "rule of law" used "sham universal suffrage" to violate the law of democracy. In today's Hong Kong, those who advocate "sham universal suffrage" hae tear gas. Those who advocate "genuine universal suffrage" can only occupy the streets. Faced with tear gas. whither any "meeting of the minds?"
In fact, the election of the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council in Hong Kong by means of genuine universal suffrage under "one country, two systems" was a commitment made to Hong Kong by Deng Xiaoping and three generations of CCP political leaders. It is the only way to ensure a "meeting of the minds" with Hong Kong society. At this juncture, the Beijing authorities should be affirming "genuine universal suffrage." Such an affirmation should been seen as honoring a political commitment made by Deng Xiaoping. It should be seen as the communist regime's test bed for its policy of "Letting some of people experience democracy first." In other words, it should see this as a political achievement. It should do everything in its power to realize it. It should not see it as a political burden, and use tear gas against the public. Beijing has no reason to oppose "genuine universal suffrage" or refuse to give an inch.
Beijing's political resources are abundant. The protestors are disorganized and weak. They face increasing social pressures from anti-Occupy Central forces. Beijing must not be short-sighted. It must resort to force to suppress public discontent, but instead "free up its mind." It must seek solutions from a higher perspective. That is the way to reach a "meeting of the minds"with Hong Kong society, and to resolve the "sham universal suffrage" induced public controversy. If Beijing is confident, and does not have a guilty conscience, it can freely make concessions. These should not be seen purely as concessions to the protesters. They should be seen as a means of enhancing its own political credibiliy, and upholding the reputation of Deng Xiaoping's "one country, two systems." From this perspective, there is no need to concern oneself over who made concessions today. This is a rare opportunity for Beijing to adopt a political initiative that can enhance its credibility.
An opportunity has arisen. The Hong Kong government has declared that it will "postpone second phase consultation on political reform," and that "the door is always open to dialogue." Beijing is not about to have the Hong Kong government open the door to dialogue, yet refuse to give an inch. Tanks cleared Tiananmen Square. Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts in Thailand ripped the country apart, as did similar conflicts in Ukraine. By contrast, current developments in Hong Kong offer an opportunity to ease confrontation. Doing so may not be easy. But if Beijing really wishes to ensure a "meeting of the minds" in Hong Kong over one country, two systems, it must first enhance its own political credibility, not merely demand that people disperse without giving an inch.
Why not initiate a meeting of the minds, beginning with Hong Kong?
2014.10.07 11:07 am