Saturday, 7 March 2015

Clarification Please

Zhang Dejiang's statements on Hong Kong's future is subject to interpretation
Ah the Chinese language can be so.... vague.

It's open to so many different interpretations which is why Chinese officials love it. They can make these pronouncements that are difficult to translate because other languages, such as English can be very precise.

The latest is the top official in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, Zhang Dejiang, who spoke at the National People's Congress, saying achieving universal suffrage in 2017 is "an historic opportunity not to be missed".

However, he also warned that "a missed opportunity would not come again", creating a sense of panic that if pan-democrats veto the upcoming political reform package, then Hong Kong people would have lost their only chance at "one man, one vote".

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, interpreted Zhang's words this way:

"He said some forces have publicly vowed to vote down the package to elect the chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017... he said they are exhausting all means to obstruct Hong Kong's path to democracy," Fan said.

In meetings with local deputies yesterday, Zhang reiterated universal suffrage in 2017 must be based on the framework which was set down by the NPC Standing Committe in August.

This means two to three candidates running for chief executive, must be first approved by Beijing before being put on the ballot that every one would be able to vote for. And this is exactly why tens of thousands occupied the streets in Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok for 79 days.

Fan added Zhang also told local deputies that "it is difficult to eliminate the negative effects of Occupy Central... which reflected that the young people lack understanding about the Basic Law and the country".

Or is this Fan's way of explaining to Zhang that young people in Hong Kong still don't understand that they are Chinese?

Another Hong Kong delegate, Brave Chan Yung, also expressed fears that the city was missing its only opportunity for universal suffrage, and that if it was voted down this time, another chance would not come again.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Zhang's words should be interpreted as "a warning".

However, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Basic Law Committee, believed Zhang was not saying that Hong Kong's political system could not be changed after 2017.

So what did Zhang really mean?

Chinese officials can say whatever they want and then backtrack later because what they said originally was so vague that it could have been interpreted a number of ways.

And that's what we're seeing here, which is much like a dog chasing its tail -- going around in circles.

Can we get a clarification once and for all? Or perhaps Zhang is couching his words to suit possible circumstances for later?

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