Changes are approaching for Hong Kong and they don’t seem to be precisely the type demanded by protesters in the streets. The Chinese Government has pointed out that it proposes measures to strengthen its authority and “national security” in its wayward autonomous territory.
Where for almost five months the massive protests sometimes violent, demand more democracy and denounce the policies of its autonomous Executive and from Beijing.
Among the changes that arise are a ” refinement ” of the process of selection and cessation of the next heads of autonomous Government. In addition, the Hong Kong education program will have to emphasize patriotic doctrine and political leaders, national security.
This was announced by a senior official, Shen Chunyao at a press conference to explain the results of the annual meeting of leaders of the Communist Party of China, concluded last night.
Currently, the head of government is elected by a committee of notables, almost all of them with ties to Beijing, between two or three candidates, liked by the Chinese Government. Citizens do not have the possibility to present a candidate, one of the main demands that the Umbrella Movement raised five years ago, the student seats that paralyzed the center of Hong Kong for almost three months and precursors of the current protests.
The meeting, chaired by the head of state and Party secretary, Xi Jinping, had Hong Kong as one of its ” main issues,” Shen said. According to the final communiqué of that plenary, Beijing considers measures that reinforce the administrative supervision of the central government and eradicate any separatist temptation or endanger the stability of the country.
What would be the “improvement” in the selection of autonomous prime minister is an unknown. The change in the selection process of his head of Government is one of the main demands of the Hong Kong protesters, 82% of whom declare themselves contrary to the current head of the office.
Carrie Lam. But that mobilized demand a universal suffrage system, which although it is provided for in the Basic Law or Hong Kong constitution – “when appropriate circumstances arise” – , an increasingly critical Beijing of “Western values” does not seem willing to grant.
Since this summer, the central government has concluded that what happens in the former British colony is, together with the trade war against the United States, one of the great risks to social stability, its absolute priority. A risk that has been the subject of frantic internal and external consultations during these 21 weeks of protests, including the full Central Committee of the Party held this week and concluded on Thursday.
The statement of that meeting underlines the need to “strictly govern the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao strictly in accordance with the (Chinese) Constitution and the Basic Law. Also protect the long-term stability and prosperity of both.
”The document coincided precisely with the announcement that, for the first time in a decade, the former British colony has entered into recession, due to the impact of the protests and the commercial war.
How to protect that “stability and prosperity”? Chinese leaders stress in the document the need to “establish a solid legal system and a compliance mechanism to safeguard national security in both administrative regions.”
Although it is not among the protesters’ demands, the Chinese Government believes that the final objective of the protest participants is to force the independence of the former colony. An absolute red line for Beijing , for which territorial integrity is one of its key interests.
“We will not tolerate any challenge at the base of this principle,” Shen insisted. Nor will “any act of division of the country, or endanger national security, be accepted. We will impede with determination that external forces interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macao and perpetuate separatist, subversive, destructive or infiltration activities. ”
The senior official did not provide further information about what precise measures, or when, could be put in place. He did abound in what the government believes should be the remedy for the disappearance of the hostility of many Hong Kong people towards the Chinese government system: increase the “patriotic spirit” among officials and students and improve knowledge of the history and culture of China.
The government’s proposals in Beijing threaten to cause even more rejection among Hong Kong protesters, who are preparing for this weekend a massive new rally. An attempt to implement a patriotic curriculum in 2013 led to important demonstrations among high school students, led by a very young Joshua Wong.
The 2014 sit-ins that paralyzed downtown Hong Kong for almost three months, known as the Umbrella Movement, had universal suffrage as their main demand.
Participants in the current protests also demand the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill – the only concession they have achieved release and removal of charges of the almost 3,000 protesters arrested and an investigation into the violence of the Police.