Sunday, 15 June 2014

Words of Wisdom

Will Central be occupied come July 1? Everyone's waiting to see...
A former Canadian diplomat has waded into the white paper discussion and has urged Beijing patience and allowing Hong Kong a chance for it to shape its own future.

John Higginbotham was Canada's high commissioner to Hong Kong following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 until 1994. Before that he was in Beijing as trade commissioner and political counsellor.

The 70-year-old career civil servant was taken aback by the recent release of Beijing's white paper and cautions that the timing and tone of the document emphasizing China's total control over the city could spark "infectious destabilization".

"Patience and forbearance by the central government rather than dramatic actions have been the key to a successful transition in the past. Certain language and pressures could create the very things Beijing fears most about infectious destabilization in Hong Kong, as a result of its own tactical actions," he says.

"China should allow Hong Kong progressive opportunities to shape its future as a unique international city to make it an even more valuable asset to China and the world. Turning it into another Chinese city is not in China's own interests."

He added that Beijing should be "less demanding" over the issue of patriotism and obedience it expects of other local governments," Higginbotham says.

If China wants to be serious about the concept of "one country, two systems", then it has to be prepared to live with the "hurly-burly" of Hong Kong politics.

Higginbotham's words sound like sage advice, but will Beijing heed them?

The State Council could claim he is interfering in domestic affairs, but if he's a "good friend of China", perhaps it would consider his wisdom.

In the meantime we find the former diplomat's words of caution different from that of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that was one of five that took out an advertisement in the newspaper condemning the Occupy Central movement, saying it would cripple business in the Central district.

We shall see who will prevail...

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