Letter to BS: Hong Kong district council elections show all is not lost

Pro-democracy supporters celebrate as pro-Beijing politician Junius Ho lost District Council Elections | Photo : AP/PTI
Compliments for your editorial “Signals from Hong Kong” (November 29) beautifully analysing the ground realities in the country.  Hope the authoritarian Chinese regime is listening. Hong Kong's unique attributes, which have been honed over centuries just can't be replicated in a year or two — as indeed the Chinese government has learnt through their efforts in Macao and Shanghai. Macao's beautiful casinos have managed to attract gamblers — especially from the sub-continent —  but that, as you say, means only "limited success"; not even a small fraction of what Hong Kong has been doing. 

During the 22 years since the UK returned the territory to China, the Chinese government must've earned billions in taxes from businesses and people in Hong Kong. It has also enjoyed tremendous gains from Hong Kong being the financial window to the world and a critical transshipment hub for exports and imports. The unique one-country-two-systems template has indeed worked beautifully with both China and Hong Kong gaining hugely. Being ranked, the world's freest economy for 24 consecutive years is a great badge of honour. 

It is only because the government of China decided to deepen its control on the erstwhile city-state that all hell broke loose. They should've realised that the culture that prevailed there for almost two centuries cannot be changed by a police or military crackdown. Naturally, people rebelled and it has got so bad that, secretly, Chinese authorities must be regretting the steps taken by them. Suddenly, they can see this big window closing and businesses from Hong Kong moving to Singapore or Tokyo. Even for a strong economy like China, this loss could be unbearable.

All is not lost. The results of Hong Kong's district council elections -- in which pro-democracy candidates won over 90 per cent of the seats -- show that the Chinese regime did not extend their power to control these elections. On one hand, it has created a new set of challenges for the government. I feel, it is also an indication that things haven't yet gone beyond redemption. The Chinese government will do well to go easy and let things in Hong Kong return to how they were before June. Let the very astute Xi Jinping not worry about a loss of face. 

Krishan Kalra, Gurugram

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