Conversation on Freedom and Democracy

A friend asked me can the 1200 representatives be acceptable for the democracy in Hong Kong. Has China absolutely refused the idea of democratic reform? Here is my answer.

We have to first ask who and what do the 1200 representatives are accountable to? They are not accountable to the people of Hong Kong. They are obligated to please the mainland government. They are appointed by the communist government because they are loyal to the “one country, one party” system. All these individuals benefit personally from the Beijing government. Individual members of the 1200 may have different agendas but they have to protect their own business interest. Under the “harmony principle”, they can only nominate a puppet administration.

I am not assuming the mainland government will refuse to let democratic principles to rule Hong Kong. The Beijing government just will not do that. They do not have the desire for diversity of ideas. Democratic value is NOT just “one person, one vote”. The fundamental value should be “free to express one’s view” without afraid of someone arresting me in the middle of the night and taking me to jail without a fair trial. This cannot be said about the totalitarian government. The “black jails” still exist in China. As of now, most arguments are focus on two areas. If you do not agree, you do not love your country. You are a traitor. That is simply not true.

That brings up the second point you mentioned. “It will hurt the economy.” Yes, it will. If you look at history, totalitarian government may build up the economy in a short time, but it will not last. Corruption and controlled economy will ultimately fail. One can look at the former USSR, (Russia is not in good shape now either.) Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Eastern Europe, etc. Those are examples for us not to follow.

The Chinese propaganda usually claims this protest is an American conspiracy. Conspiracy theory is often used to distract people not to focus on the real issue. It’s so easy to blame the foreign devils for their shortcomings than to look at the mirror. I am not saying the Americans are perfect, far from it. The reality is Obama has his hands more than full with the Islamic terrorists now. Do you really believe he wants to start another war with China? On one hand, Beijing wants to have an open economy so it can attract foreign investments. In the past thirty years, China used this strategy to lift it out of poverty and modernized itself. On the other hand Beijing is hardened with its cold war mentality. It actually attached itself more with Russia, a country which had conquered its territory (and still does) but tried to alienate the US (which helped China to fight the Japanese invaders). The Beijing government published racist article against the former US ambassador Gary Locke. It called Locke a “banana”. It accused Locke did not speak the language of his ancestors (He can speak Cantonese, but the Chinese government does not recognize Cantonese is part of the Chinese language set.) It criticized Locke of being of Chinese ancestry, dare to talk about foreign values such as “human rights”. It is easy to use patriotism to cover up the shortcomings of the political mistakes of the communist party. Then use patriotism to stir up racial hatred of another people group. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan used the same tactic to start WWII. No, I’m not the opposite side.

I just want to be one the side of reasons. As I see it, the mistake of the students is they focus on 普選, “universal suffrage”. “Universal suffrage” should only be one element of the debate. “Freedom to think, express, choose…” should be the overarching theme.

In Genesis 2, God created two trees for human. Whether one believes the story is literal or not, the teaching in Genesis 2 painted a picture of “freedom of choice”. Free to choose, to question, to imagine… are first and foremost in the creation of the human environment. As Christians, we should imitate Christ. Jesus let his enemies express, talk, and even hang him on the cross. Jesus explained his view of the Kingdom in ways the people at the times could understand. Even though he is the Son of God, he never imposed his views on others. He let all, including the Pharisees, had the right to choose. He never labeled his enemies unpatriotic. Peter asked Him to send fire to destroy the opposition. Instead, he commanded his disciples to “love your enemies “. This should be our response. I do not believe the communist will ever preach that.

I remember a German pastor, Martin Niemöller wrote this poem when he disagreed with the Nazi government. He was sent to concentration camp for seven years because of his beliefs.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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