When will China become a democratic country?

Opinion: China's autocrats end democracy in Hong Kong

The red party theorists in Beijing have never lacked imagination when it comes to making the impossible possible. They created new ideas out of contradictions in order to legitimize their sole rule. The Chinese constitution provides in the preamble that China is a "democratic dictatorship by the people". The prevailing basic economic order is "socialist market economy", which combines private property (market) with striving in the collective (socialism).

Or in the former British crown colony of Hong Kong: "One country, two systems", "Hong Kong administration of Hong Kong" and "a high level of self-government" are the principles that China and Great Britain agreed on before the metropolis was handed over to China in 1997. These principles resulted in the Hong Kong constitution, the Basic Law, which corresponds to international democratic standards.

No popular sovereignty

The Basic Law has a catch, however: the law provides for direct and general elections to parliament and the top executive. But a schedule is nowhere set. This gives Beijing scope.

The democratic protest in Hong Kong continues

Free and representative elections are the benchmark for any democracy. There are actually elections in Hong Kong, but always with an invisible player. His name does not appear anywhere. He only maintains a contact office, but still pulls the strings everywhere. He wants to have everything under control in order to stifle even the slightest criticism. And his name is CCP, the Chinese Communist Party.

Beijing prevents popular sovereignty in Hong Kong. Because only half of the 70-member city parliament is directly elected, the other half appointed by social groups. The head of administration must be confirmed by a China-friendly commission. The next parliamentary elections are due in September with a year delay due to Corona. The head of administration will be re-elected in 2022.

Who is a "patriot"?

The decision, which was passed on Thursday with 2,895 votes in favor and one abstention, provides that all candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections and the election of the head of administration will be checked for opinion by the same commission and only then approved. The Commission can even vote directly for members of parliament. To use the wording used in the propaganda: "People who love the country rule Hong Kong." So not those who love Hong Kong, but the autocracy!

Opposition parties from the democratic camp do not belong to the "patriots" according to Beijing's interpretation. Because they criticize the Hong Kong authorities and demand the right of general, free elections in accordance with the Basic Law. From the Hong Kong city parliament, Beijing wants to form a Abnick association like the National People's Congress. Before the 1997 return, China had promised the rule of law in Hong Kong - but not who would make the laws.

National law breaks regional law

In recent years, calls for direct elections have grown louder in Hong Kong. The majority loyal to China in the city parliament is therefore no longer guaranteed in the next elections. Therefore, the CCP, which has an absolute majority in the National People's Congress, is now resorting to the ultima ratio: the central legislation for the subordinate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region through Beijing. The basic law was placed in the framework of the Chinese constitution from the start - national law breaks regional law.

Political arrests are now commonplace in Hong Kong

But the practice is a blatant violation of the principle of "Hong Kong administration by Hong Kongers" and thus against an international agreement between China and Great Britain. How can MPs in the Great Hall of the People vote on Hong Kong's electoral code? The vast majority of them are neither elected by Hong Kong residents, nor do they even understand the Hong Kong dialect!

The underrated autocrats

The People's Congress passed a law for Hong Kong last year: the so-called "Security Law". Opposition politicians have been intimidated since it came into force on June 30, 2020. Many of them have since been retrospectively tried and imprisoned for alleged "endangering state security". Others emigrated in a hurry.

The mothers and fathers of the Hong Kong Basic Law wanted to ensure stability and prosperity in Hong Kong with the principle of "one country, two systems". In this democratic experiment, you completely underestimated the fact that the autocrats in centralized China have a significantly longer lever. Because they probably never wanted to seriously allow the people in Hong Kong what they had honestly hoped for after the end of the British colonial era: real democracy and self-government.

DW editor Dang Yuan writes under a pseudonym to protect himself and his family.