In the United States, when we refer to someone as a “patriot” we’re generally talking about a person who prioritizes fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. In Hong Kong, that word has now taken on a markedly different meaning. The label is being applied to the “patriots only election” being held today, where voters will choose from candidates vying to fill some of the seats in the central legislative committee. That committee will select members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council that will pick the city’s next chief executive in March.
But unlike what was seen in previous years, the “voters” going to the polls today won’t include everyone. In fact, the only people who will be allowed to vote are the “patriots” who have been screened in advance and pledged their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and its puppet government in Hong Kong. The number of lucky individuals who qualified to vote today totaled just 4,900 out of a city with a population of 7.5 million. Isn’t democracy wonderful? (Reuters)
Fewer than 5,000 Hong Kong people from mostly pro-establishment circles vote on Sunday for candidates vetted as loyal to Beijing, who will pick the city’s next China-backed leader.
Pro-democracy candidates are almost absent from Hong Kong’s first election since Beijing overhauled the city’s electoral system to ensure that “only patriots” rule China’s freest city…
Changes to the political system are the latest in a string of moves – including a national security law that punishes anything Beijing deems as subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces – that have placed the international financial hub on an authoritarian path.
Local media is reporting that more than 6,000 police officers have been deployed to monitor the vote. For those of you doing the math at home, you’ll quickly realize that the government has deployed more police officers to lock down the polling places than the number of people who will actually be allowed to cast a ballot.
When China took over control of Hong Kong from the British they passed the city’s “mini-constitution” which is known as the Basic Law. In it, as the linked report reminds us, they promised “universal suffrage” for the people of Hong Kong. As usual, the promises of the Chinese Communist Party have proven to not be worth the paper they are literally printed on. (Unless that was a typo and they meant to say “universal suffering.”)
At this point, it’s unclear why China bothers with the time and expense required to hold these sham elections. Most of the seats allowed for former members of the pro-democracy, opposition party have been eliminated. And now, anyone who has ever been associated with the opposition will fail to pass the “patriot vetting” process, so they will never be allowed to vote anyway. The CCP is selecting every member of the council and will thus be able to pick the new Chief Executive next year. Even if Carrie Lam is replaced, the new leader will certainly be someone who has Beijing on speed dial on their phone and will not make a move without having the approval of the party. (Lam is eligible for another five-year term if China approves.)
It appears that Hong Kong is fully lost now. Given that nobody is going to risk a direct military confrontation with China on their own doorstep, there is little to be done now that they’ve shown absolutely no restraint in their efforts to absorb the city. Any of the pro-democracy advocates who remain would be wise to take Great Britain up on their offer of unlimited immigration and get out of there while it’s still possible to do so. The ensuing collapse of the formerly thriving, capitalist system in Hong Kong will be a tragic object lesson for generations to come.