Blame the British for Hong Kong’s democratic deficit

By Jonathan Power

September 9th 2014

When 17 years ago the British lowered the Union Jack on their last remaining important colony, Hong Kong, Chris Patten, the governor, buried his face in his hands for the entire world to see and felt the profoundest sentiment a proud and ambitious politician could experience – failure.

It was indeed a personal failure to be added to his other great misfortune, the timing of elections back home in Britain that made it impossible for him to become prime minister. But on that damp evening it was the people of Hong Kong, those who knew him well could tell, that pierced his conscience. The British had let them down. They were giving up a colony having unaccountably failed not to leave it a functioning democracy.Read More »

Hong Kong and beyond

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Beijing should listen to its own excellent mantra: “One Country, Two Systems”. A part of that other system is democracy. England never practiced that during 150 years of conquest and colonialism – also fearing Hong Kong might vote themselves into independence from UK – but that low standard is no excuse.

And democracy today rides on an expanding agenda, much more than periodic fair and free multi-party national elections which China does not practice, for its own reasons.

China experiments with local democracy and Hong Kong is local. Democracy today moves in favor of direct election of the Chief Executive; in the Hong Kong case governor, in 2017. That means having a choice among candidates with different visions, not a governor appointed, be that by Beijing or by the governing council of Hong Kong.Read More »