【英语中国】香港与北京渐行渐远 Hong Kong: rebellious mood grows against Beijing

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2014-7-10 06:47

小艾摘要: Seventeen years ago this week, in a rain-sodden ceremony of pomp and solemnity, the Union Jack was lowered over Hong Kong for the last time and the colony was handed back to Beijing. Chris Patten chok ...
Hong Kong: rebellious mood grows against Beijing
Seventeen years ago this week, in a rain-sodden ceremony of pomp and solemnity, the Union Jack was lowered over Hong Kong for the last time and the colony was handed back to Beijing. Chris Patten choked back tears as he made his final address before an assembled gathering of British dignitaries that included Prince Charles and Tony Blair, then prime minister. “I am the 28th governor, the last governor,” Mr Patten said. “Now Hong Kong people are to run Hong Kong. That is the promise and that is the unshakeable destiny.”

Today, many in Hong Kong are wondering whether that promise and that destiny are beginning to look shaky. Hong Kong is facing arguably its worst political crisis since the handover, as pro-democracy activists and the Communist party in Beijing come into conflict over how the former colony should be run.

Under the so-called Joint Declaration, which was later crystallised in the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s “mini-constitution” – Beijing promised to preserve freedoms that were absent on the mainland: the freedom to demonstrate, freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary on which the city’s status as an international financial centre rests.

The proximate cause of tension revolves around what form of universal suffrage Hong Kong will be permitted in the 2017 election of its chief executive, the rough equivalent of a mayor. Beyond that, there is deepening anxiety about the territory’s institutional and cultural identity, which many in Hong Kong fear is being swamped by power, money and the sheer numbers of people pouring in from the mainland.

This week, well over 100,000 people – the organisers claim 510,000 – took part in a pro-democracy rally to mark the anniversary of the handover. Last month, there was a record turnout for the annual vigil to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a show of anti-Communist party sentiment that would immediately be suppressed on the mainland.

A group called “Occupy Central” also organised a mock referendum on universal suffrage that attracted 800,000 voters, an exercise denounced as illegal by Beijing.

The mood of rebellion in the city has intensified since Beijing last month issued a “white paper” clarifying the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy. “One country, two systems” did not exist because of any integral right or piece of paper signed with a faded colonial power. It existed, it said, because Beijing allowed it. Alex Chow, a student leader who was one of more than 500 arrested after the July 1 march, said the white paper was like a “nuclear bomb that infuriated the people of Hong Kong”.

Martin Lee, a prominent lawyer and founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic party, says Beijing is “trying to frighten the people” of his city. Recalling images of protesters facing down guns in Tiananmen Square in 1989, he says: “Let them bring in the tanks. When I see a tank, I will get myself a bicycle.” Predicting mass opposition to any show of force, Mr Lee says many more protesters would join him. “One tank may not be enough.”

The idea of PLA tanks on the streets of Hong Kong, something that would perhaps fatally undermine its status as a global financial centre, might seem far-fetched.

Last month, however, a former top Chinese official warned that Beijing could declare martial law and deploy PLA troops in Hong Kong if “Occupy Central” carried out a threat to bring the business district to a standstill. Global Times, a tabloid mouthpiece for the Communist party, warned this week that Hong Kong could face unrest similar to Thailand and Ukraine because of the pro-democracy demonstrations.

Beijing’s tussle with Hong Kong is not an isolated event. Throughout the region, a more assertive China has become embroiled in disputes with neighbouring countries over territory in the East and South China seas. In Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing considers a mere province, people are watching events in Hong Kong with apprehension.

Hundreds of students occupied Taiwan’s parliament in March to protest against what they see as their government’s dangerous flirtation with Beijing. This week, Zhang Zhijun, the head of China’s Taiwan affairs office and the highest-ranking official to visit the island in six decades, cut short his visit when his entourage was pelted with paint.

In Hong Kong, the debate centres on the question of who should be able to stand in elections for chief executive. Beijing insists that, in accordance with the Basic Law, candidates must be screened by a nominating committee. It also says that any candidate must “love China”, a requirement that many interpret as meaning loyalty to the Communist party. Pro-democracy activists want a form of civic nomination that would allow less pro-establishment figures a shot at office.

Beyond the technical arguments about precisely how the chief executive – and eventually the legislative council – are to be elected lie much deeper misgivings about Hong Kong’s way of life.

Many residents feel the economic spoils have been carved up by an establishment that has swiftly transferred its loyalties from colonialists in London to communists in Beijing. Income disparity in Hong Kong is among the widest in Asia. Many poorer people have given up on the idea of ever buying a flat, as prices have been driven to astronomical levels by a wall of mainland money.

Apart from a sense of social and economic injustice, there is resentment against what is perceived to be an “invasion” by mainlanders. Ugly confrontations have broken out, with Hongkongers accusing mainlanders of sundry affronts, including buying up all the baby formula (because of a fear that mainland milk is contaminated) to eating food on the impeccably clean subway. The Hong Kong government is considering imposing a cap on tourists to assuage public resentment.

There is also a nagging concern that institutions are being weakened. When a respected newspaper editor was fired and then attacked by knife-wielding thugs, some people jumped to the unproven conclusion that mainland forces were somehow behind it. In 2012, protesters forced the Hong Kong government to abandon a plan to introduce “national education”, widely seen as an effort to teach a whitewashed version of history that would please the Communist party. “I don’t recognise Hong Kong any more,” says one professional Hong Kong woman who has taken refuge in Taiwan.

In an interview, Mr Patten, who recently retired as chairman of the BBC Trust, said he felt compelled to break his usual silence on Hong Kong affairs.

“The rule of law isn’t a matter – as the Chinese white paper rather surprisingly suggested – of judges being part of a branch of the administration,” he said. “Judges under the rule of law are independent and there shouldn’t be any question of them being instructed or pressed to subordinate their view [to] political considerations.”

Mr Patten, who in the run-up to handover was seen by Beijing as deliberately stirring up trouble over democratic rights never granted by Britain, went further. London, he said, would never have signed the Joint Declaration had the language been the same as Beijing is now using. “We couldn’t possibly have signed a white paper which said that the joint declaration is really a single declaration.”

China’s effort to put pressure on the “special administrative region”, as Hong Kong is now unglamorously known, has backfired, some say. “When Hong Kong reverted to China, there weren’t supposed to be any fundamental changes for 50 years,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian. “But so much seems to have changed after just 17 years.”

Mr Zhang said Beijing was less concerned about the situation in Hong Kong per se, and more worried about spurring demand for universal suffrage on the mainland.

For Hong Kong, the battle is not just about democracy. The territory has enjoyed a business-friendly reputation precisely because it is seen as the one place in China where the rule of law is upheld. Even the four big international accountancy firms, nervous about the impact that unrest could have on business, took out an advertisement declaring they were against the pro-democracy movement.

Thus Hong Kong’s reputation as a business centre could receive a double blow. On the one hand, the institutions that underpin it could be weakened as Beijing asserts more authority. On the other, the backlash against such perceived threats could create an instability that makes international companies think twice about basing operations there.

The stakes over the next few months are thus extremely high. If the government does not put forward a proposal on universal suffrage deemed acceptable, “Occupy Central” protesters have threatened to carry out their plan to bring a vital Hong Kong business district to a halt. They would, in effect, be calling China’s bluff. How Beijing responds will help to shape the next 17 years and beyond.

Additional reporting by Julie Zhu and Wan Li

17年前的7月1日,香港在滂沱大雨中举行了隆重的主权移交仪式,飘扬在香港上空的英国国旗最后一次被降了下来。时任香港总督彭定康(Chris Patten)强忍泪水,在查尔斯王子(Prince Charles)、时任英国首相托尼?布莱尔(Tony Blair)等一干英国政要显贵面前发表了其任内的最后一场演讲。他说:“我是第28任香港总督,也是最后一任总督。现在香港将会由香港人管治,这是承诺,也是一个不容改变的进程。”

如今,香港许多人怀疑这一承诺和进程开始动摇了。香港正面临可以说是自主权移交以来最严重的政治危机,因为亲民主的活动人士和中共中央围绕这个前英国殖民地的治理方式产生了分歧。

按照《中英联合声明》,北京方面承诺维护香港的集会自由、出版自由和司法独立——这些都是内地所未享有的,香港作为国际金融中心的地位也依托于此。后来中国政府以该声明为基础,制定了香港的“小宪法”——《基本法》。

最近香港与内地关系紧张的直接症结是,香港在2017年选举行政长官(大致相当于市长)时可以采用哪种普选形式。此外,香港民众还对香港的制度和文化特性可能受到的影响日益感到焦虑不安——香港许多人担心本地制度和文化正受到权力、金钱和大量涌入的内地人的侵蚀。

上周,超过10万人(组织者号称有51万人)参加了纪念香港主权移交的亲民主游行活动。上个月,香港举行了纪念天安门事件的年度烛光守夜活动,参与人数创历史最高纪录。如果是在内地举行这种对中共表达不满的活动,就会迅速遭到镇压。

一个名为“占领中环”(Occupy Central,简称“占中”)的团体还组织了一场与普选有关的模拟公投,80万港人参与了投票。北京方面宣称,此次投票是非法的。

自中国政府上个月发表《“一国两制”在香港特别行政区的实践》白皮书、阐明香港自治权的限度以来,香港的反抗情绪加重了。白皮书声称,“一国两制”的存在不是因为任何固有权利,也不是因为中国与一个没落殖民大国签署的文件,它之所以存在,是因为中央的授权。香港学生领袖周永康(Alex Chow)表示,白皮书就像“核弹,激怒了香港人”。周永康是因“七一”游行而被捕的500多人中的一员。

香港民主党创始人、知名律师李柱铭(Martin Lee)表示,北京方面正在“试图恫吓香港人”。李柱铭回忆起1989年抗议者在天安门广场上面对枪弹的画面,他说道:“让他们开坦克过来吧。当我看到坦克时,我就给自己找辆自行车。”李柱铭推测,中央如果展示武力必将激起民众反抗,他说那时将会有更多的抗议者加入他的行列。“一辆坦克可能不够。”

中国人民解放军把坦克开上香港街头的说法听起来似乎很不着调,那种场景或许会彻底破坏香港作为全球金融中心的地位。

然而,上个月就有一位前中国高官警告称,如果“占中”真的如其威胁的那样让中环陷入瘫痪,中央可以宣布戒严,并在香港部署解放军兵力。中共喉舌小报《环球时报》(Global Times)上周警告称,亲民主的示威活动可能让香港陷入与泰国和乌克兰类似的动荡局势。

北京与香港的争执并非一起孤立事件。在整个亚太地区,姿态日益自信的中国在东中国海和南中国海与多个邻国存在领土争端。在自治的台湾岛,人们正在不安地关注着香港局势。中国政府认为台湾只是它的一个省份。

今年3月,台湾数百名学生占领议会以示抗议,他们认为当局正在危险地与北京方面接触。上周中国国台办主任张志军访台,因随行人员被泼漆而缩短了行程。张志军是60年来访问台湾的最高级别的大陆官员。

在香港,争论主要集中在谁能够参与行政长官选举的问题上。北京方面坚称,按照《基本法》的规定,候选人必须经过提名委员会的审查。它还表示,任何候选人都必须“爱国”,这一要求被许多人解读为候选人要忠于中共。亲民主活动人士希望采取一种公民提名的普选形式,这样不那么亲中央的人士才有上台希望。

除了围绕如何选举行政长官(以及最终关于立法委员会的选举)的技术层面争论以外,更深层次的担忧则与香港的生活方式有关。

许多居民的感受是,香港的经济发展成果被当权者瓜分,那些原本效忠英国殖民者的当权派很快倒向了中共。香港的收入差距在亚洲名列前茅。随着内地大量资金的涌入将香港房价推至天文数字,许多穷人已经放弃了买房的念头。

除了感到社会不公和经济不平等之外,香港人还对内地人的“入侵”心存怨恨。充满敌意的对峙已经爆发,香港人指责内地人在诸多方面有冒犯失礼之举,包括买光所有的婴儿奶粉(因为内地人担心内地牛奶被污染),以及在干净的地铁上进食。香港政府正在考虑限制游客人数,以缓解公众怨气。

香港人还担忧一点:香港既有制度正在被削弱。当一位受尊敬的报纸编辑先是被解雇、而后被持刀歹徒攻击时,一些人匆忙得出了未经证实的结论:内地势力可能是幕后黑手。2012年,香港政府拟设立“国民教育科”,这被广泛视为意图教授粉饰版历史、迎合中共之举,但在抗议者压力下,港府不得不作罢。一位曾在台湾避难的香港职业女性表示:“我再也认不出香港了。”

在接受采访时,“末代港督”、近期从BBC信托(BBC Trust)主席职位退下来的彭定康表示,他认为自己必须打破在香港事务上一贯的缄默。

“按照(香港的)法治,法官是独立的,根本不应指示或迫使他们将自己对正当程序以及何为合法的看法置于某种别的政治考量之下,”彭定康对英国《金融时报》表示。

在香港主权移交前,北京方面认为彭定康在民主权利问题上故意挑起事端,而英国从未赋予过香港民主权利。彭定康进一步表示,如果北京方面当初使用与现在一样的语言,那么英国政府绝不可能签署《联合声明》。“我们不可能签署一份声称《联合声明》其实是单方声明的白皮书。”

香港现在有个不太吸引人的名称——“特别行政区”。有人表示,中国向香港施压已经产生了事与愿违的结果。“当香港回归中国时,本来以为50年内都不会有什么根本性改变,”居住在北京的历史学家章立凡表示,“但才过了17年却已经变化了这么多。”

章立凡称,比起对香港局势的担心,北京方面更担忧香港局势激发内地的普选要求。

对香港而言,这场斗争不只与民主有关。香港之所以赢得利于经商的名声,正因为它被视为中国唯一的法治之地。就连国际四大会计事务所也登广告宣称反对亲民主运动,它们担心骚乱可能影响企业经营。

因此,香港作为商业中心的名声可能遭遇双重打击。一方面,随着北京方面树立更多威权,香港商业中心地位所依托的制度可能被削弱。另一方面,对此类威胁的反抗可能造成不稳定,令跨国企业在香港开展业务时要三思而后行。

未来几个月的事态发展至关重要。“占中”抗议者威胁称,如果政府没有拿出民众认可的普选提议,他们将按照计划让香港一个重要商业区停摆。这实际上是逼中国摊牌。北京方面作出什么反应,将影响未来17年及以后的香港前途。

朱莉、万丽补充报道

译者/何黎

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