【英语中国】香港的民主抱负并非“闹剧” Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations are no farce

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-7-1 01:28

小艾摘要: Ever since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 by British colonisers, an unresolved question has hung like smog over the city. Would it eventually be able to elect its representatives?Hong Kong ...
Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations are no farce
Ever since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 by British colonisers, an unresolved question has hung like smog over the city. Would it eventually be able to elect its representatives?

Hong Kong’s “mini-constitution” states the ultimate aim is for the city to choose its leadership by universal suffrage, not a bad concession given its decidedly undemocratic history under British rule. Beijing subsequently agreed in principle to the idea that Hong Kong’s mayor, known as the chief executive, could be popularly elected in 2017, and its Legislative Council in 2020. Yet what Beijing means by “universal suffrage” and what democracy advocates in Hong Kong mean by it are – surprise, surprise – not the same thing. The gap in interpretation threatens to put Beijing and Hong Kong on a dangerous collision course.

Beijing has made its bottom line clear. As stated in the Basic Law agreed with Britain, China expects candidates for election to be put forward by a nominating committee. Democrats say that is simply a ruse to screen out “undesirable” candidates. Indeed, Beijing insists all nominees must “love China”, a stipulation that under the country’s current political set-up may equate to loving the Communist party.

To underline its resolve, this month Beijing took the unusual step of issuing a policy document in which it spelt out the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government. Under “one country, two systems”, it said, Hong Kong enjoys its “high degree of autonomy” solely at Beijing’s discretion. The special administrative zone, as Hong Kong is officially referred to, may have free courts, freedom of speech and freedom to protest. It even holds a huge annual vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, something inconceivable on the mainland. But all of this, when push comes to shove, is because Beijing allows it.

Pro-democracy advocates accuse Beijing of changing the goalposts. Occupy Central, the most prominent campaign group, is threatening to bring the city’s business district to a standstill if the Hong Kong government’s proposals for universal suffrage do not meet what it deems to be international standards. Many in business-minded Hong Kong, where the nature of both money and power is well understood, think Occupy Central has gone too far. Yet many harbour a sneaking admiration for its pluck. So far, more than 700,000 people have voted in a mock referendum to determine what kind of democracy Hongkongers really want. That is no small number in a city of 7m. They must choose between three options, each of which involves some sort of public nomination process and each of which thus goes beyond what Beijing is likely to allow.

China could have ignored the referendum. Instead it has blustered and bullied. It has labelled the poll “illegal and farcical”, an odd thing to say of an exercise that does not pretend to carry legal weight. The largely online poll has been the target of a massive cyber attack, raising suspicions of an orchestrated campaign to silence Hong Kong. Most chillingly, one former Chinese official has warned that, if the protest movement gets out of hand, the People’s Liberation Army could be brought in to quell it. Such threats have almost certainly encouraged more people to vote.

Hong Kong can feel like a city under siege. Rightly or wrongly, Hongkongers feel their way of life is under threat. Popular resentment takes many forms. Many are angry that mainland money has pushed property prices beyond their reach. Others, rather snobbily, mock mainlanders’ manners and supposedly vulgar shopping habits.

More fundamentally, there are fears that press and judicial freedoms are being eroded. Earlier this year, Ming Pao, a newspaper with a reputation for independence, sacked Kevin Lao, its editor, raising suspicion that he had been sacrificed under pressure from Beijing. Shortly afterwards, Mr Lao survived a savage knife attack by perpetrators unknown. Lawyers are also worried. Some say Beijing’s insistence on their “patriotism” undermines the principle of judicial independence.

The question is how far can Hong Kong push back? Few outside Beijing would dispute that its people and institutions are fully equipped for democracy. Beijing, however, will almost certainly not tolerate any such thing on its territory, even in a quasi-autonomous city. Nor is Hong Kong united in its quest for democratic rights. Much of the establishment, which has made a fortune by cosying up to Beijing, is in no hurry to turn voting over to the great unwashed. On this, Communist leaders and many capitalist tycoons can agree.

How can a potentially violent stand-off be avoided? The most promising area of compromise is the composition of the nominating committee. At present, a pathetically limited 1,200 people, mostly representing business and pro-Beijing interests, choose the chief executive. If Beijing wants the true definition of a farce, there you have it.

自1997年英国殖民者将香港交还给中国起,一个悬而未决的问题就一直像雾霾一样笼罩在这座城市上空。这个问题是:香港最终能否实现选举制?

香港的“小宪法”(即《香港基本法》——译者注)表述称,最终目标是让香港通过普选来选定其领导人。鉴于香港在英国治下毫无民主可言,允许其普选已是中国中央政府作出的一个不小的让步了。北京方面后来原则上同意了香港2017年可普选行政长官(简称“特首”)、2020年可普选立法会的设想。但万万想不到的是,北京方面说的“普选”跟香港民主派说的普选不是同一回事。双方解读上的差异,或会让北京方面与香港走向危险的对峙。

北京方面已表明了底线。正如中英双方达成一致的《香港基本法》所阐述的,中方认为,选举候选人将由一个提名委员会提名。香港民主派则表示,这种做法完全是一种花招,目的是剔除北京方面“不中意的”候选人。的确,北京方面坚持要求,所有被提名人必须“爱国”。在中国现行政治架构下,这一要求或许等同于爱中国共产党。

为凸显自己的决心,北京方面本月采取了不寻常的举措,发布了《“一国两制”在香港特别行政区的实践》白皮书,阐明了香港与中央政府之间的关系。白皮书称,在“一国两制”下,香港享有“高度自治权”,但高度自治权的限度取决于中央授予多少权力。香港特别行政区或许享有独立的司法权、言论自由和示威自由,甚至每年都举行纪念“六四”死难者的大型烛光守夜活动(这种活动在中国内地是不可想象的)。但说穿了,这一切之所以能够存在,是因为北京方面允许其存在。

香港民主派指责北京方面偷梁换柱。声势最浩大的运动团体“占领中环”(Occupy Central)扬言,如果香港政府的普选方案不符合他们眼中的国际标准,他们就将让香港的商务区陷入瘫痪。香港人深谙金钱和权力的本质,颇有商业头脑。许多香港人认为,“占中”运动做得有些过头了。但有不少香港人都在心中暗自钦佩“占中”运动的勇气。迄今为止,有逾70万人参加了决定香港人真正想要哪种民主的模拟“公投”。鉴于香港总人口仅700万,这个人数可不算少。公投中有三个选项,每一个选项都涉及某种“公民提名”程序,因此每一个选项都逾越了北京方面可能允许的限度。

北京方面本可忽略这个公投。但它却摆出了气势汹汹和咄咄逼人的姿态,为这场投票贴上了“非法和闹剧”的标签——此举有些令人费解,因为这场投票原本就不标榜自己具有法律上的意义。这场主要在网络上进行的投票,遭到了大规模的网络攻击,这不仅让人怀疑这是一场经过精心安排的、旨在让香港噤声的攻击。最令人毛骨悚然的是,中国一名前官员警告称,如果抗议运动失控,可能会派中国人民解放军(PLA)予以镇压。几乎可以肯定的是,这类威胁反倒促使更多人参与了此次投票。

香港可能有种受到围困的感觉。无论这么想是对是错,总之香港人是认为自己的生活方式受到了威胁。香港民众的怨气表现为多种形式。许多香港人愤怒于中国内地资金推高香港房价、导致他们买不起房。还有一些香港人相当傲慢地讥讽内地人的举止以及所谓的俗气的购物习惯。

更为根本的是,香港担心出版自由和司法自由正受到侵蚀。今年早些时候,以报道独立而享有盛名的《明报》(Ming Pao)炒掉了总编辑刘进图(Kevin Lao)。人们怀疑《明报》是受到北京方面施压,把刘牺牲掉了。不久后,刘被不明身份的歹徒用刀袭击,所幸未伤及性命。律师们也感到担忧。有些人说,北京方面坚持要求他们“爱国”,这损害了司法独立原则。

问题在于,香港的反抗能走多远?香港的民众和制度已为实施民主制做好了充分准备,这一点在北京以外恐怕鲜有人质疑。然而,北京方面几乎肯定不会容忍任何此类东西出现在自己的领土上,哪怕是在一个准自治的城市里。另外,香港在追求民主权利方面也不团结。在通过讨好北京方面发了大财的香港建制派当中,有许多人并不急于将选举权交给普罗大众。在这一点上,中共领导层与许多资本家大亨可能想法相同。

如何才能避免一场可能到来的暴力对峙?最有望实现妥协的地方是提名委员会的人员构成。目前,负责提名特首候选人的提名委员会只有区区1200人,而且主要代表商界和亲北京的利益。北京方面想了解一下“闹剧”的真正定义?这就是。

译者/何黎

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