A matter of concern for the whole world

Chen Gong

Solving the Hong Kong issue: from the streets to the meeting rooms

The protests in Hong Kong have not stop- ped even after Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam announced that an extradition bill with mainland China has been “withdrawn”.

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Instead, they have become bigger because of various complicated factors, although participating numbers are falling during weekdays.

To this day, the protests still show no signs of ending.

The impact of the Hong Kong issue has gone beyond Hong Kong itself and it has now become not only a matter of concern for Beijing, but also the international community.

Hong Kong’s economy is affected as a result. Morgan Stanley has lowered its gross domestic gross (GDP) growth forecast for Hong Kong this year from 1 percent to -0.3 percent.

Concerns about the sense of security in Hong Kong have increased and this could fatally damage Hong Kong as a financial centre.

At the social level, the differences of Hong Kong society will inevitably leave social ruptures and traumatic memories that are difficult to heal.

‘Street, parliamentary politics’

What happens in Hong Kong has further influenced a wide range of other issues that affect the establishment of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, Belt and Road Initiative, South China’s economy and many other aspects.

The keys to solving the Hong Kong problem are “street politics” and “parliamentary politics”.

In recent years, Hong Kong people who did not care much about politics have become more and more concerned about them.

This phenomenon is closely related to many political and economic issues, as well as policy operations. Politics and governance cannot be limited to “street politics”.

‘One country, two systems’

Instead it should be focused on the political structure and layout of the society so that stability can be truly achieved.

There are inherent limitations and problems in street politics and it is easy to move toward the extremes: violence and irrationality.

Therefore, making “street politics” returning to the meeting rooms should be recognised as the fundamental goal to reconstruct a stable Hong Kong society.

This involves two key points from China’s perspective. First, “one country, two systems” will remain as the basic institutional framework of Hong Kong’s governance.

Second, it is normal for young people in Hong Kong to participate in politics, but politics must be resolved within the parliament in accordance with procedures.

Under the basic framework of “one country, two systems”, the central government will also respect all decisions of Hong Kong’s parliament in accordance with the law.

The biggest worry for China about parliamentary politics in Hong Kong could be the loss of control and subversion in Hong Kong’s parliament.

This is not very likely to happen, because there are three factors that now govern the risks of parliamentary politics in Hong Kong.

Rule of law

The first is the military, which is the last powerful means of legal possession in any country.

Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, there is a very clear definition of the military forces’ role in Hong Kong.

Second is the law. Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law and the law is the core of its system.

Judges at all levels of Hong Kong’s courts are appointed or removed by the chief executive in accordance with legal procedures – and the chief executive, whoever is elected – must be appointed by the National People’s Congress. Therefore, who is the ultimate “decision-maker” in Hong Kong is very clear. Third, to stabilise Hong Kong, there are complex political, economic and information relations that can be harnessed. Therefore, the existing political structure and system of Hong Kong can ensure the political stability of Hong Kong.

Political structure

The key to all this is to make good use of Hong Kong’s existing political structure, and not to create political topics out of nothing.

In this regard, the appeals of Hong Kong people are actually open to discussion and it is up to the Hong Kong parliament to decide whether to agree or not. From an objective point of view, whether China can do well in parliamentary politics in the future is the biggest challenge China will face in Hong Kong.

The key to Hong Kong’s long-term stability under the “one country, two systems” policy is the operation of parliamentary politics.

Britain has long used parliamentary politics to achieve stability in Hong Kong and China should be able to do the same.

Chen Gong founded ANBOUND Think Tank in 1993, He is now ANBOUND chief researcher. Chen is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of his outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy

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