Friday, 18 March 2016

Hong Kong Activists Advised to be Strategic

As Hong Kong seems more polarized than ever before in the political arena, with localists gaining a larger voice, a democracy expert says separatism is "suicidal".

Professor Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University in the United States, says any attempt to advocate independence, or look at it as a way out of "one country, two systems" by 2047, will only push Beijing to crack down on Hong Kong, and further marginalize the already weak pro-democracy camp.

"I think it is suicidal," said Diamond who is visiting here. "It's not the way Hong Kong is going to achieve democracy and deeper or more meaningful autonomy. It is just going to play into the hands of the hardliners in China."

Hong Kong Indigenous' Edward Leung appeals to many
While localists like Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous managed to get over 60,000 votes in a recent by-election, putting him firmly in third place, it demonstrated he clearly appealed to a demographic that wanted their voices heard. But Diamond thinks this is not the way to go.

"When you have been victimized... and been treated unjustly, as the whole Hong Kong population has been, the natural reaction is anger, frustration and resentment," he said. "But being mad as hell and resolving that you are not going to take it anymore is an emotion but not a strategy."

He suggests this is why the 79-day Occupy protests failed in large part because the protesters should have been more empathetic and get into the minds of their political adversaries in a bid to neutralize the opposition.

At the same time Diamond stresses he is not telling activists to change their aspirations, but to act strategically with an analytical mind.

Diamond says Occupy protesters should have been empathetic
Definitely food for thought for the pan-democratic camp and of course the localists when they think about their strategy, particularly in the run-up to September's Legislative Council elections.

Intriguingly, he believes communism will be out of the picture by long before 2047, and that through painful transition, China will be governed with a federalist democracy system.

Beijing probably dismisses Diamond's theory as unthinkable, and out of spite will probably do anything it can to survive beyond 2047.

However, it's an interesting prediction he's making and China watchers will definitely try to read the tea leaves to see if that may come true...

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