A treacherous fault line

Updated: 2014-10-23 07:24

(China Daily)

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By insisting on demands that have no legal standing, leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students have effectively chosen to stand on a treacherous fault line.

In their first dialogue with Hong Kong SAR Government officials held on Tuesday on the city's proposed electoral reforms, the student leaders reiterated their demands for public nomination of 2017 Chief Executive candidates. They were asking for a retraction of the National People's Congress Standing Committee's August decision, and even amendment of the Basic Law, which stipulates that a broadly representative Nominating Committee will nominate future CE candidates.

Under the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement, the central government has a constitutional role to play in the political development of the HKSAR. The NPCSC has the ultimate authority to interpret the Basic Law, which constitutes the sole legal basis for any changes made to the city's electoral arrangements.

By blatantly defying the central government's constitutional rights, the student leaders have revealed an absence of any real sense of national identity. By insisting on Hong Kong deciding its political development on its own, they are in a sense suggesting they subscribe to the idea of Hong Kong "realizing its self-determination".

This is an idea promoted by a few political fanatics in the city including those behind the "Occupy Central" campaign. They have been trying to foster a so-called "Hong Kong identity" by emphasizing its colonial history and legacy. This is all with the delusion of eventually turning the city into an independent political entity. But this is a road leading to a dead end.

For universal suffrage to be implemented as scheduled, and more importantly for democracy to advance in the city, future dialogue on Hong Kong's electoral reforms should be conducted. But it must always be done within the legal framework set by the NPCSC in its Aug 31 decision made in accordance with the Basic Law.

Street politics won't help advance democracy; what it will do is undermine the rule of law. Weeks of chaos and social disruption caused by the "Occupy" campaign should have helped the student leaders and other protestors realize that. Rather than achieving what they have originally intended, their actions have caused so much discord that it threatens the city's social stability and economic well-being.

It is time for student leaders and other organizers of the "Occupy" campaign to call off their protests and get back on the right track. After all, standing on a treacherous fault line, they stand no chance of achieving what they want.

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