Patriots in, Democrats out as Hong Kong enters a new political era



The first of three “patriotic-only” elections under Hong Kong’s new political system took place on the same day that the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the city’s largest independent labor group, announced its intention to join. dissolve.

Sunday’s election commission was the result of a radical overhaul of the system mandated by China, which was provided for in the Basic Law enacted in 1990.

Photo: Kyle Lam / HKFP.

The polls, in which police outnumbered voters, marked the beginning of the era of “patriots running Hong Kong.” It follows a troubled, but unsuccessful, 24-year-old experiment known as the ‘Hong Kongers Who Run Hong Kong’.

Within the framework of the new game of “patriots”, only those considered by Beijing as “true patriots” will have a role in the administration of the city. Those who are labeled “anti-Chinese” and troublemakers will not only be barred from joining the Legislative Council, District Councils and the 1,500-member Election Committee, but could face harsh political reprisals.

Photo: Kyle Lam / HKFP.

Civil society groups, especially trade unions, have become the next targets after pro-democracy political parties and groups have been eliminated one after another.

The Professional Teachers Union, the city’s largest body of teachers, is in the process of being dissolved. The Hong Kong Alliance for the Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements in China, currently under investigation for alleged violations of the National Security Law, may be removed from the corporate register by order of the security secretary.

The list of small groups, which have decided to disband since the entry into force of a radical national security law on June 30, 2020, is much longer.

Photo: Kyle Lam / HKFP.

Founded in 1990 by a group of veteran independent trade unionists, the HKCTU became the last major pro-democracy body to fall as Beijing stepped up efforts to silence organized voices of dissent in society.

Even groups with far fewer members and limited influence in governance are starting to feel the heat.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association is one example. Drawing inspiration from and imitating Security Minister Chris Tang’s script, Police Commissioner Raymond Siu on Saturday accused him of being “unprofessional” and of political bias.

Among other charges, the couple said the HKJA promptly condemned acts of violence against the now-defunct Apple Daily, but did not speak up when pro-establishment media were subjected to violence.

Chris Tang (left) is sworn in on June 25, 2021 as the new Security Secretary. Photo: Government of Hong Kong.

A statement by the HKJA on Saturday documented some of its previous statements condemning acts of violence and obstruction of media journalists, including Ta Kung Pao and TVB.

Although Tang and Siu’s attacks do not hold water, they give pro-Beijing media and politicians ammunition to castigate the group of journalists.

Not surprisingly, the intensity of the attacks is increasing – and is elevated to the level of national security. Evidence is lacking, however.

The fate of the HKJA is unclear. But Hong Kong’s new socio-political landscape after Beijing enacted the National Security Law and overhauled the electoral system is increasingly clear.

Hong Kong Journalists Association. Photo: Kelly Ho / HKFP.

In an interview with an online media outlet, Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the semi-official China Association for Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the place for mass politics would be greatly reduced. The stage of “elite politics” would be further expanded for the patriots to rule the city, he said.

Professor Lau envisioned the formation of a ruling coalition made up of patriots from different sectors.

His association, which reports directly to the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, acts as an advisor and think tank to the central government. Once the policies are in place, he and the members of the association will support them and explain them to the public, he said.

Some 24 years after the end of colonial rule, when like-minded elites handpicked by the British administration in Hong Kong backed the regime, the city retreated to an elitist regime of a different kind – with patriots on the inside and Democrats and civil society groups on the outside.

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