Letter to LibDem leadership on Hong Kong

December 6, 2020 6:21 AM

Bauhina flagIt has come to our attention that an event will be held on 7th December, co-hosted by Young Liberals & SWHK HK on "The decline of democracy and how young Liberals can help". The invitation states "… stand against the Chinese Communist Party in a bid to restore democracy and freedom to this formerly autonomous city."

We have concerns over the level of imbalance in debates concerning HK and since Ed, Layla and Alistair are on the speakers' panel, we wish to draw your attention to the following:
1. Amongst CLD members and Executive members, are people who grew up in HK or have families there. Yet, CLD has never been consulted whenever the party leadership speaks about HK.

2. HK was never autonomous under British rule.

3. What do we mean by 'democracy and freedom' for HK? What do we mean when we say Stand with HK? Do all 6 million HKers support the protestors and are aghast at the security law?

Please have a look at this Reuters report on 30th August 2020. According to the Reuters report, polling by HK Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) showed the following:
• Whilst 60% oppose the Security Law, only 44% support the pro-democracy protest
movement and 19% support independence from China.
• 56% agreed with the statement 'Do not label the protests as riots' and 44% agreed
with the statement 'amnesty for the arrested protestors'.

There is a lot more data in the report that warrants analysis. Of course, this was in
August, and we know that the situation in HK is fluid. The report includes a graph that
track public opinion from December 2019. The point we want to make here is that the
debate should be more nuanced and based on evidence rather than from an emotional,
ideological or parochial perspective.

4. The Sino- British Joint Declaration - Clause 3(2) states: The HK Special Administrative
Region will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs which
are the responsibilities of the Central People's Government.

The point here is that we may disagree with some of the clauses or how the Security law
is implemented but we should acknowledge that China has the right under the Joint
Declaration to produce a Security Law for HK and jurisdiction over defence and foreign
affairs.

We agree that the Basic law provides the basis for universal suffrage in HK and the level of
autonomy as delineated in the Basic Law should be upheld and defended. However, there is
a serious question of what some of the pro-democracy advocates really want, as there are
radical elements who are seeking to separate from China and for HK to become
independent.

What should be the Lib Dem policy on HK? The starting point for determining the policy
should not be what is happening now or in the past few years, but what will happen in 2047,
which is not that far away. The choice of end game in 2047 determines what policies or
strategies to adopt now.

There are 3 potential end game scenarios.
1. HK returns to China completely
2. HK becomes independent
3. HK continues as 'one country, two systems' for another agreed period.

The first scenario would be in accordance with the rule of law, as HK rightfully returns fully
to China. The second scenario would be another 'Taiwan' supported and defended by
western powers. This scenario would be a violation of the Joint declaration which provided
a transitional period of 50 years.

Advocates of the second scenario see the Communist Party of China as 'evil' and must be
defeated. There is no room for dialogue. For example, when Christine Jardine summed up
the policy motion on HK during the Autumn Conference, she said that you either vote to
stand with HK or you are with the Communist Party of China. This is no different from
Brexiteers claiming Remainers are 'traitors'. The demonising of China has led to an increase
in Sinophobia and hate crime against the Chinese and other East and Southeast Asians
communities in the UK.

The third scenario may be plausible but will require engagement, collaboration and
compromise. The first scenario would require even more collaboration and compromise to
prepare HKers to live like others in the mainland.

The question we are asking is what the Lib Dem Party policy position on HK will be. Which
endgame scenario does the party want to support? We also ask that the Lib Dem leadership
consults Chinese Lib Dems on matters pertaining to China.

Thank you and best wishes,

Dr Yeow Poon Chair
Sarah Cheung Johnson Vice-Chair
Marguerita Morten Secretary
Merlene Emerson MBE Treasurer
Councillor Dr Yukteshwar Kumar Executive Member
Linda Chung Executive Member