In a speech on 9 November to CEO's at the APEC Summit in Beijing, President Xi expounded on what he meant in his recent references to the "New Normal" in China's development trajectory.
This new connect can be characterized into the following COMPONENTS -
(a) permanent change from high-speed to moderately high-speed economic growth;
(b) continuous economic re-structuring -
services and consumer demand to gradually become the mainstay of the economy;
continous narrowing of regional differences;
economnic proportion of household incomes to continue rising;
greater sharing of fruits of economic development amongst the masses.
(c) change from investment-driven to innovation-driven.
The following BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES are likely to result -
(a) Even at around 7% average annual growth, China's economy will still be leading world growth;
(b) Growth will be more balanced, stable and multi-dimenisonalwith new "Four Modernizations" - New industrialization, Digitization, Urbanization, and Agricultural modernization and greater reliance on domestic consumption to minimize exposure to external risks;
(c) Economic re-structuring already manifested in the first three quarters of 2014
consumption overtaking investment as main contributor to GDP growth;
share of services at 46.7% overtaking manufacturing;
high and new technologies, including machinery manufacturing registered higher rates of growth compared with industrial averages; and
government streamling and de-regulation have resulted in greater market vitality with newly-registered enterprises growing at 60% compared with previous year.
The country must CONTINUE TO ADAPT to the "New Normal" in the following way -
(a) clear-mindedness on new contradictions and surfacing nof hidden risks;
(b) intensifying of overall reform deepening-
to energize latent market vitality;
to widen paths for innovation;
to push forward high-quality outward openness;
to promote people's well-being, including equality and social justice.
A diagramitc illustration (in Chinese) is provided in the following extract dated 10 November, 2014, from the "100 Plan Organization", a state-sponsored organization to attract global talents. Click here
Live panel discussion on World Insight with Beijing's China Central Television broadcast on 26 October, 2014
At the interview I made the point that China's concept of the rule of law is different from the West. There is no intention of embracing the Western idea of separation of powers between the administration, the judiciary and the legislature. And the rule of the Communist Party cannot be challenged, even as party officials are now held to account according to law. However, there are moves to improve the independence of the judicary by elevating powers to appoint local judges and the funding of the legal system to the provincial level. Additionally, ideas of institutionalizing the current corruption-infested system of "Letters and Petitions" system are beginning to be talked about.
What the promotion of the Rule of Law or Rule by Law actually means in China is further illustrated in the latest leader in The Economist (November 1-7, 2014).
A further article in the same issue highlights the new emphasis on the role in upholding the rule of law of China's Constitution, to which all officials will have to swear allegiance to in future. 4th December would henceforth be made the National Constitution Day.
This debunks the speculation surrounging earlier officially-sanctioned attacks against "constitutionism" that at best lip-service would hence forth be paid to the role of the Constitution in China's politics. What is to be understood is that the supremacy of the Party is enshrined in China's Constitution. That means that the Party's leadership cannot be questioned by China's laws. But that doesn't mean that Party members are above the law, as the recent anti-corruption campaign is at pains to emphasize.
At a BBC World TV interview on 6 October, my fellow interviewee mentioned Hong Kong's identity. This I happened to have flagged up in an earlier TV interview on Beijing's CCTV.
As Mainland China's political, economic and social impacts on Hong Kong have grown dramatically in recent years, the perception that Hong Kong's unique identity and way of life may be at risk is feeding much of the passion driving what in many ways is a spontaneous student movement, with no lack of supporters from younger members of the general public.
This rising consciousness of Hong Kong's separate identity is well dissected in an aricle by Wang Gungwu, a celebrated historian who is now chairman of the East Asian Institute and a professor at the National University of Singapore. The article first featured in the Straits Times and was later reprinted in the South China Morning Post of 8 October, 2014. Download South China Morning Post - Wang Gungwu - Test of Wills
At the BBC interview, I referred to the genie let out of the bottle. It's a genie that obeys the dream in Hong Kong's young hearts and minds - the dream of a more equitable and just future where the leader is freely chosen by the people and fighting for their dreams. These aspirations are now famously symbolized by the so-called "Umbrella Revolution". Some jokingly refer to the umbrellas as "Weapons of Mass Democracy" (WMD).
That dream is articulated by a Hong Kong young lady in a video of the New York Times of 7 October and in an anonymous letter to the students by a HK Mainlander which first appeared in the Asia Literary Review and was reprinted in the South China Morning Post on 10 October, 2014. Download Letter to HK students - Tonight I picked a side
It is also captured in the impassioned songs sung loud by the crowds such as the Beatles' (John Lennon's) Imagineand Hong Kong's late pop singer Beyond's Broad Seas and Open Skies (in Cantonese).
These are manifestations of the so-called "Generation Z", born in the internet era and passionate with ideals to change the world, as expounded in a research paper of 22 October, 2014 by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a Hong Kong think-tank. Download Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre 智經研究中心 - Generation Z (in Chinese)
This shows that a powerful driver of Hong Kong's civil disobedience movement is as much the dissatisfaction and frustration with an unequal and unjust society as the perceived erosion of Hong Kong's own identity, which a Chief Executive chosen by a narrow committee is perceived as unable to defend. Hence, the rapid build-up of broad-based support by the younger Generation Z, armed with passion and mobile technology.
Nevertheless, Beijing's worries about a free-for-all universal suffrage system for Hong Kong are well understood. Hence, safeguards in Article 45 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution, to ensure what some may regard as wanting to know the outcome before an election is held. Click here
Moreover, there are suspicions that there could be more extraneous influence at work than meets the eye.Click here
On 11 October, the English edition of The People's Daily, China's official mouthpiece, featured a front-page articlesaying that Louisa Greve, Vice President of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), met key members of the Occupy Central movement several months ago. Greve is responsible for Asia, Middle East and North Africa and was frequently associated with "Tibetan independence", "eastern Turkistan" and other independence movements. The article decries US's vain attempt to trigger a "Colour Revoultion" in China by fermenting an "Umbrella Revolution" in Hong Kong.
The timing of the latest revelations about CY Leung's pre-election deal with an Australian company may invite further suspicions.
Identity aside, social discontent out of unbridled capitalism, of which Hong Kong may be an exemplar, is rising across a globe embracing capitalism with a vengeance. In this regard, the Hong Kong young lady may well be speaking for the rest of the world.
The following are apt illustrations in this regard -
For China, Embarrassing Parallels Between Hong Kong Protestors and America's 99% , Ana Swanson, Forbes Online, 6 October, 2014 Click here
Hong Kong Occupy Central - Globalization, Capitalism, Identity - IMD Professor Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Forbes Online, 5 October, 2014 Click here
With the dynamics playing out for the heart and soul of Hong Kong under the One Country Two Systems formula, Hong Kong is near what I would call a Martin Luther King moment. There comes a time when a society's rift has to be healed. A game of chicken is no substitute. It's time for both sides to explore pragmatic ideas for the way forward. Some are suggested in my Op-ed article in the South China Morning Post of 7 Ootober.
My participation in a radio panel discussion on Voice of Russia on 8 October together with Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World and an RT analyst.
Voice of Russia's brief transcript is here. Please note that the reference to a "Law Arbritration Committee"" is erroneous. If my intervention was carefully listened to, I did refer to a "nominating committee"" under Hong Kong's Basic Law. Naturally, the overall slant of the discussion was not as balanced as I wished.
My live TV interview with Beijing's CCTV English on 5 October, 2014. I ventured to highlight the conundrum of One Country Two Systems as the student and other protests in Hong Kong reflect a growing clash of identities with those in the motherland. My interview slot starts at 16:50 of the recorded TV clip.
Whilst in London on a visit, I was interviewed by long distance phone call on Beijing's CCTV News on 3 October. The update focussed on the impact on Hong Kong's business and other sectors of the community.
My appearance on the News clip starts at meter reading 07:40.
Hong Kong’s current political reform controversy is often depicted herehere as to suggest that Beijing reneges on its promise of universal suffrage, tramples on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, turns a deaf ear to 800,000 people's voices of democracy, and has the Hong Kong police cramping down on peaceful civil protest.
The truth, however, can be sought from the following realities.
First, as expounded by HK Chief Secretary Carrie Lam's article in the Wall Street Journal, universal suffrage is not spelt out in the Joint Declaration. It was Beijing’s idea to introduce it in the Basic Law, which is a national law of the PRC. Beijing specified in 2007 that universal suffrage to elect the Chief Executive should be introduced in 2017. There is no reason why Beijing should risk international credibility by eating its word. Indeed, recent authoritative pronouncements by Beijing have made this clear beyond doubt.
Second, under the One Country Two Systems formula, Beijing has never allowed, let alone promised, that Hong Kong people can have a completely free hand in choosing whom they want. In accordance with the Basic Law, the selection of the Chief Executive must be “by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures." (Article 45). No alternative is contemplated, nor is there any provision to allow the nominating committee to delegate or dilute its collective power of nomination. Legally, this rules out direct nomination by other means including “public nomination”.
Third, the reason behind Article 45 of the Basic Law is to minimize the chance of someone being elected in the rough and tumble of universal suffrage who may be potentially subversive of the Communist Party in Beijing. This doesn’t mean that the CE must be a Communist Party member, nor does it mean that he or she is debarred from standing up to Beijing. If it were so, the Two Systems would collapse in the eyes of the world. But this does mean that the CE can’t allow Hong Kong to become a base for subversion of the regime on the Mainland. This is the One Country side of the bargain.
Fourth, does this mean that Article 45 does not measure up to so-called “international standards for suffrage or democracy”? Perhaps not. But this is infinitely better than any system Hong Kong has enjoyed so far. Why, then, should Beijing worry, provided it wields the final substantive power of appointing the CE? The answer is that this nuclear option cannot be over-simplified. If Beijing should refuse appointing someone duly elected, there will be huge international outcry of electoral charade. The whole credibility of One Country Two Systems would be in tatters. The people of Hong Kong would be disgruntled, sowing the seeds of political unrest.
Fifth, does it mean that Beijing wants to know the outcome before an election is held? The unspoken answer is Yes, to make sure that no one is allowed to run for election who is suspected to be a potential subverter of Communist Party rule in China. Indeed, this is what the requirement of “patriotism” actually means, a natural and essential credential expected of a Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region accountable to the central government.
Sixth, does it mean that the Hong Kong people would not have a genuine free choice? Not necessarily, because the nominating committee can be made as broadly representative as possible, which also means that the different sectors underpinning Hong Kong’s economic and social viability, including the business, professional, grassroots, and political sectors, must be evenly maintained.
Seventh, is Hong Kong turning into a police state? Not by a long chalk. The description of alleged police violence is really over the top, considering how restrained the police was in maintaining order. The city’s tolerance in becoming the world’s “capital of protests” is well earned. Hong Kong has retained, for 20 years in a row, the top rank as the world’s freest economy, according to stringent yardsticks of the Heritage Foundation. This accolade would not have been kept for so long if Hong Kong’s civil society fails to make the cut. But Hong Kong also prides itself on its rule of law. Hence unprecedented attempts to force through the gates of the Legislative Council building, or gate-crashing the local garrison premises of the People’s Liberation Army, cannot be condoned under the law. Advanced democracies would have acted likewise in similar circumstances.
Eighth, is Beijing’s worry about foreign instigation paranoiac? Not quite. The Hong Kong media is awash with revelations of secret donations of millions of dollars to “democratic” politicians, activists and civic leaders, all from one single source, the founder of the Apple Daily, who is reported to have close ties with U.S. top aides like former US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. These donations allegedly include some $20 million to ex-Catholic Bishop Zen, who became a vocal Beijing critic, during the tenure of his bishopric. What comes to mind is Pope John Paul II’s famous involvement in Poland's Orange Revolution leading to the former Soviet bloc's eventual collapse. It’s small wonder that Beijing remains suspicious of possible plots to ferment a Jasmin revolution in Hong Kong agitating for the Communist Party's downfall. Reference to risks of Hong Kong becoming a future Casablanca is quite apt.
In sum, One Country Two Systems means that Two Systems cannot exist independently of One Country. A high degree of autonomy under the Two Systems, yes, but not to the extent of threatening the stability of the One Country.
The recent publication by Beijing of a White Paper on Hong Kong, unusually translated into seven languages, is meant to tell the world where Beijing's redlines are.
Against Occupy Central, whose organizers also allegedly received secret donations from the same source, there is now a surging movement for Hong Kong’s silent majority to speak out. The Anti-Occupy Central movement has now gathered over one million personal signatures and counting. This clears some of the smoke and mirrors that what Occupy Central stands for represents mainstream public opinions.
Yes, the fissures between Hong Kong and Beijng are widening. Click here Hong Kong deserves more democracy and should see open, fair, and accountable universal suffrage to elect a new Chief Executive in 2017. But the election must be conducted in accordance with the Basic Law. Using coercion, however “peaceful”, to force Beijing's hand to break the Basic Law does not accord with Hong Kong’s law-binding core value. If anything, it is likely to wreck the very foundation of the One Country Two Systems formula which these coercive actions purport to uphold.