Beijing has shown enough tolerance and special preference for Hong Kong, and the city should not expect anything better than it has already been granted, an influential mainland defence researcher said yesterday.
Likening the political turmoil in Hong Kong over independence advocacy to China’s Cultural Revolution, Jin Yinan told a group of local journalists that Beijing would now focus even more on “one country” instead of “two systems” – a policy track it began five years ago when Hong Kong was embroiled in a row over national education.
The central government has always given Hong Kong preferential treatment in policy- making, including holding back Shanghai from eclipsing the city as China’s financial hub, said the retired major-general who once headed strategic research at the National Defence University under the People’s Liberation Army.
Jin noted that Beijing had always taken a step back in times of conflict in Hong Kong, preferring a hands-off approach to let the city work out its own compromises and solutions.
“But there is no open sky even though we have taken a step back. We can’t take a step back on issues of major principle,” he said.
“The central government’s policies for Hong Kong are very satisfactory. If you are still not satisfied, then there won’t be any better policies.”
Jin said the fallout in Hong Kong over fears that the city’s autonomy was under attack by Beijing’s recent steps to curb independence advocacy would not shake the central government’s resolve, no matter how immense and painful the backlash might be among independence seekers.
“China used to be very politicised while Hong Kong mainly focused on economic development over the past years,” Jin said. “But it seems that the trend has now reversed. Hong Kong is highly politicised and what is happening here is similar to what happened on the mainland during the Cultural Revolution.”
The sociopolitical movement that swept China from 1966 to 1976 marked one of the most turbulent chapters in Chinese history.
Earlier this month, Beijing waded into the controversy over two localist lawmakers’ anti-China antics at their oath-taking ceremony by interpreting the Basic Law to make such conduct punishable by disqualification.
The contentious measure came before the High Court ruled that Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching should lose their Legislative Council seats because they had effectively declined to take their oaths with their protest action last month.
Jin condemned Yau for asking the British government to intervene in a bid to keep her seat, saying only Beijing could offer that kind of protection to Hongkongers.
There would be increased focus on the first part of the “one, country, two systems” policy, he said, noting that Beijing had already identified the need to change track five years ago.
That was during the furore over the government’s bid to introduce national education in the school curriculum.
A citywide opposition movement led by students worried about being “brainwashed” eventually forced the government to shelve the plan, while their campaigning laid the groundwork for localist sentiment that has changed Hong Kong’s political landscape.