'This Has Been an Act of Self-Harm'

A commentary by Bao Tong
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A protester shouts slogans at a pro-democracy rally next to the Hong Kong government complex, Aug. 31, 2014.
A protester shouts slogans at a pro-democracy rally next to the Hong Kong government complex, Aug. 31, 2014.

The Occupy Central movement isn't defeated, because it's flexible, and it's hard to say whether it was a guerrilla movement or whether it will endure. Though it hadn't even yet been implemented, it has still gone down in history.

It has already accomplished two historic tasks. Firstly, it expressed the sacred demands of Hong Kong's voting public for universal suffrage without wavering.

Secondly, it forced the standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to show its true colors.

The NPC standing committee owes its own existence to a fake election, so it's unlikely that it would have a grasp of what true universal suffrage would look like.

It lacks both memory and credibility, as it is in flagrant violation of the "five steps" it set out for political reforms in Hong Kong 2004, which aren't being followed here.

And the high-ranking official they sent to scare people can't even abide by the Constitution. Instead he declared mass protests, which are clearly permitted by the Constitution, to be "illegal."

Foreign ministry

And such behavior hasn't been limited to the NPC standing committee.

When the foreign ministry said that an inquiry ordered by the British parliament into the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration was "interference in China's internal affairs," it demonstrated its lack of understanding of the remit of the foreign ministry, and of the relationship between parliaments and executive arms of government.

A foreign ministry that doesn't understand or respect the principles of diplomacy or international treaties is no sort of foreign ministry at all.

And it was the voters of Hong Kong whose right to an election was violated; who were harmed by the NPC standing committee and the foreign ministry's termination of "one country, two systems."

Much has happened in Hong Kong since then. The Hong Kong government can no longer govern in tune with its people. This is a tragedy, although perhaps the NPC standing committee sees it as a joyful victory.

The whole of the Chinese population was also harmed by this, as were all people of goodwill around the world who have dealings with China.

'Act of self-harm'

This has been an act of self-harm, not only on the part of the NPC standing committee and the foreign ministry, but on the part of the new generation of China's leaders, whose imaginations gave us the "Chinese dream" and such rich and complex "deep reforms" and such frequent news of the anti-corruption campaign.

And we mustn't forget their unborn resolution about the rule of law. All of this has now been cast into shadow and stigma.

I don't know what the best course of action is, unless it is a sincere self-criticism from the NPC standing committee.

As for Occupy Central, whose place in history is assured, we can expect that they will size up the situation and act smoothly when the time comes, getting the maximum effect for the smallest price.

They have the whole future ahead of them.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.





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