This ad was published by 70 Hong Kong financial professionals to warn Beijing against political interference. The English version was posted on the Facebook page of “Financial Professionals for Occupy Central”: http://on.fb.me/1ptyeLu
Ten Requests to the Communist Party of China from the People in Hong Kong (Finance and Banking Sector) -English version
23 April 2014, Hong Kong.
To Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China
To Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong,
Ten Requests to the Communist Party of China from the People in Hong Kong (Finance and Banking Sector)
Since Hong Kong’s reversion to the motherland, the Hong Kong Government policies have increasingly fallen short of applying the principle of “one country two systems” and the policy objectives of the Basic Law. This has created a perception that the Hong Kong Government has not been listening to the voice of Hong Kong people, creating deep-seated conflicts across various spectrums in our society. The current political climate in Hong Kong is having a negative impact to Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a major financial centre in Asia. Hong Kong’s existing political system has become the stumbling block to the city’s long-term social, political and economic growth, and is the root cause of social division and disharmony in Hong Kong.
We are a group of professionals who work in the Hong Kong finance and banking sector and we represent this industry group. We are all Hong Kong permanent residents who truly love the country and Hong Kong. We wholeheartedly believe that the central government of China is one that serves and seeks the greatest well-being for the people of Hong Kong. We have full confidence in the future of Hong Kong and hope that the city will remain firmly in its position as an international financial centre. We hope the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party will heed the following 10 requests which reflect the voice of Hong Kong people, specifically that of the finance and banking industry.
1) Fulfill its promises made in the Sino-British Joint Declaration by fully supporting one country two systems. Allow Hong Kong people to rule Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy, and refrain from interfering in the administrative affairs of Hong Kong.
2) Establish a system of genuine universal suffrage that conforms to international standards and recognize that this is the political freedom that all the people in Hong Kong seek. To implement the principle of “one country, two systems”, the Central Government must accord the Hong Kong Government with high degree of autonomy and recognize its legitimacy.
3) Defend Hong Kong's freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, creation, and all kinds of freedom enshrined in the Basic Law and relevant international conventions.
4) Allow Hong Kong to continue to operate under a fair, just, and open business environment. Prevent monopoly by persons or organizations of special privilege in various industries.
5) Empower the Hong Kong Government to set policies independently, including but not limited to policies relating to immigration, naturalization and travel entry to advance the city's long-term interests. Maintain and enhance Hong Kong’s position in the international finance community so that it retains its competitive edge in attracting high quality professionals and talents from all over the world and from various industries and sectors.
6) Safeguard the spirit of the rule of law and judicial independence.
7) Protect and respect the freedom of the press and empower the public and the media with the right to monitor and critically challenge Hong Kong government and its policies.
8) Understand Hong Kong's unique historical background and preserve Hong Kong's uniqueness as a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures.
9) Safeguard Hong Kong's reputation for maintaining a strong anti-corruption culture in government and business. Eliminate all perception and possibility of growth of a bribery culture, and take considerable effort to establish anti-corruption policies and campaign in China which can only have a positive impact to Hong Kong’s status in the global economy.
10) Create and facilitate universal suffrage for Hong Kong which can be leveraged as a blueprint for democratic elections in China to advance China’s progress toward democracy.
In order to elaborate the 10 requests stated above, we enclose the Appendix which set out in more detail the interpretation of each request. We sincerely urge the leaders of the Central Government to consider these requests which reflect the voice of the Hong Kong people. Our objectives are firmly rooted in the belief that the Hong Kong people should be granted the right of universal suffrage and the Hong Kong Government should have the independence to make laws based on consensus drawn from the people of Hong Kong.
Views expressed from a group of finance and banking professionals who are passionate about the interests of Hong Kong.
Interpretation of Request no. 1:
China should fulfill the guarantees made together with the United Kingdom in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, which grant Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. Except national defense and foreign policies, none of the officials from the central to local governments (including the Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong) shall interfere the internal administration of Hong Kong. Executive power resides in Hong Kong. The nomination and election structures of the Chief Executive incontrovertibly lie within Hong Kong's executive power, and hence neither the central authorities, government departments nor organizations should interfere Hong Kong's internal matters. China as a great power must fulfill its promises and should not weaken the concept of "high degree" of autonomy to become "intermediate degree" of autonomy, "low degree" of autonomy, or simply autonomy. We hope the Chinese communist leaders can earnestly honor its promises made in front of the international community to implement "one country, two systems", and so facilitate Hong Kong's continuing prosperity and development.
Interpretation of Request no. 2:
We sincerely call on the central government leaders, in accordance with Article 39 and 45 of the Basic Law, to establish an universal and equal electoral system that conforms to international standards and is to be used for electing the Chief Executive from 2017 onwards, in addition to directly electing all seats in the Legislative Council in 2020 by completely abolishing functional constituencies. All framework and operation of electing and nominating the Hong Kong Chief Executive are electoral matters internal to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), not China's national election, and thus the central government should delegate its power to the SAR and serve only to appoint the Chief Executive-elect as stipulated in the Basic Law. Therefore, it will be unnecessary to reiterate the so-called "one position, three conformity", or unduly dwell on the false notions that nomination by citizens or nomination by parties would be breaching the Basic Law. Not a single clause in the Hong Kong Basic Law forbids "civil nomination" or "political party nomination." If the Basic Law is incapable of sanctioning "civil nomination," then how does "everyone is equal before the law" come by? If only certain privileged persons or individuals from certain sectors have nomination rights, then it is tantamount to depriving all Hong Kong citizens' right to equality before the law. We urge the Chinese communist leaders to respect Hong Kong citizens' wish, and to demonstrate and exercise the rule of law regarding the city's political reform. Only by doing so can we unite Hong Kong, mitigate deep-seated contradictions in the political, economic, and social aspects in the future, and do a good job in carrying out one country, two systems. If a bogus universal suffrage with pre-selection or screening is implemented in 2017, then this so-called universal suffrage remains a small-circle election. The Chief Executive thus elected will continue to lack legitimacy and the society will continue to face a predicament in governance. We understand the central authorities' concern regarding the Chief Executive candidates' political allegiance. However, the central authorities should have confidence in Hong Kong citizens who are mature enough in civil awareness not to pick a chief executive who confronts the central authorities. Confidence and people's support are interrelated. If the central authorities have faith in the people of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong people will trust and support the central authorities too.
Interpretation of Request no. 3:
Hong Kong's achievements today owe to generations of hard work, and significantly so being a pluralistic and free society. Universally-accepted liberal values and freedom in business and information flow are among the reasons why Hong Kong attracts international enterprises. The successful development of the financial industry hinges upon the freedom of capital and information flow. The economic miracle of Hong Kong can hardly be carried on if any of the abovementioned freedoms is battered. Foreign investors and even businessmen from mainland China will lose confidence in our business environment, and thus causing inconceivably negative impact on China's overall economic development and the process of reform and opening-up. The central and Hong Kong SAR governments must conscientiously safeguard all existing freedoms in Hong Kong, instead of restricting and suppressing Hong Kong's renowned liberties for any political reasons.
Interpretation of Request no. 4:
Decades of Hong Kong's economic rise relied on the concerted efforts of entrepreneurs and small-and-medium-sized enterprises, who have also won Hong Kong's fame as an international commercial metropolitan. Small businesses and large enterprises had always been able to coexist peacefully thanks to the abundant opportunities, good commercial structure, and the rule of law that protected and allowed the free development of all industries without facing the threat of monopolization. Unfortunately, government policies in the last decade have increasingly leaned to the advantages of big business conglomerates. For instance, property developers are in control of not only the property market but also a great variety of industries related to the Hong Kong people's daily lives, forcing closures of small shops due to their inabilities to cope with rising costs and competitions from big enterprises. Hong Kong is gradually becoming a city monopolized by big financial groups. Currently, for someone to win a Chief Executive election, the support from property developers and big financial groups is essential. In return for their support, the government tacitly consents to monopolization by stalling the legislation of anti-monopoly laws, giving rise to the notion of "property hegemony". The influx of mainland businesses into Hong Kong in recent years is supposed to induce new dynamics into the city's economy. However, some of them also brought in nepotism in the management style. A privileged class was slowly formed where people are chosen based on personal relationships rather than capabilities. These all contradict the principles of fair competition that made Hong Kong successful. The key to solving this issue is a government with a high degree of legitimacy under the leadership of a chief executive who is elected through a universal and fair election, and accountable to ordinary citizen. Government policies should facilitate a fair business development, without favoring any businessmen or financial groups. Enterprises from all around the world doing business in Hong Kong should respect and follow the city's long existing business culture and the principle of fair competition.
Interpretation of Request no. 5:
It is essential for any country, region, or big city to map out a long-term population policy that conforms to the needs of its local residents and also aims for a balanced development in the long run. Hong Kong, in its capacity as a special administrative region and an international metropolis enjoying a high degree of autonomy, should by all means hammer out its own population policy for the city's long-term benefits. Unfortunately Hong Kong has no clear population policy, not even a complete control over who can reside here and who cannot. We sincerely ask the Chinese communist leaders to return Hong Kong the approval right to examine the abode issues of prospective residents from the mainland, and halt the daily fixed quota for allowing 150 mainlanders to reside in Hong Kong. Hong Kong as an international metropolis need to attract talents from different parts of the world, not just the Mainland, to live, start new businesses, and develop here. Failing to do so Hong Kong will start to lose its shine and ultimately lag behind global competition.
Interpretation of Request no. 6:
The rule of law is one of the most important core values of Hong Kong and one of the cornerstones for maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity. Other than a sound legal system, it is far more important that Hong Kong has been practicing the separation of powers (executive, legislative, and judiciary) – under which the courts can make impartial ruling according to the spirit of the law and the legislative intent without being influenced by any political or populist pressures. The government has no right to interfere with or influence the court’s ruling, while the public can sue the government for any governing malpractice. Such a system can ensure justice being enshrined and the government being monitored so that the law would not be reduced to a political tool. The spirit of rule of law and our judiciary system are essential elements for maintaining Hong Kong as an international metropolis. They are also crucial elements that must remain intact for the successful implementation of "one country, two systems". However, there have been opinions in recent years advocating the coordination, rather than the separation, of the executive, legislative, and judiciary powers in Hong Kong. Such promulgation makes Hong Kong people and international investors worry over the degeneration of the rule of law in Hong Kong. We sincerely urge the Chinese leaders to abide by the promise of keeping the system of separation of powers unchanged in Hong Kong. It is the soul of Hong Kong, without which the city's future is doomed.
Interpretation of Request no. 7:
The media has always been recognized as the fourth estate in a society, bearing the responsibilities of monitoring the government outside the establishment, exposing social problems, crimes and injustice. The freedom to interview, edit, and report, as well as press autonomy, are essential components for any contemporary civil society. For long, Hong Kong has been admired of its press freedom, which enables media of a wide array of political stances to flourish and allows the public to obtain information from varied viewpoints. However, in recent years, the government opts for turning a deaf ear to opposing voices. Certain media that take different political stances from the government and those who frequently criticize and expose government's administrative errors have been facing mounting pressure from the authorities. As the situation deteriorates, we have started to see self-censorship among the media and editorial autonomy undermined. Chains of recent incidents have raised the concern among Hong Kong people as to whether the freedom of press has been narrowed. These include some large companies stopping to place advertisements in newspapers that often criticize the government, popular radio talk show hosts being fired, ex-chief editor of a newspaper being stabbed, newspaper articles written by anti-government political commentators being trimmed or amended, etc. Should the media choose to report only those news that are in the government's favor, the public would be deprived of their right to know; the media would no longer perform the function of monitoring the government; the civil society in Hong Kong would wither; the development of our economy and livelihood would be hindered. We believe the Chinese leaders would understand the importance of this point.
Interpretation of Request no. 8:
Hong Kong has always been a place blending Eastern and Western cultures. Hong Kong has absorbed the virtues from various Chinese and foreign cultures and built up a unique multi-culture society with its own set of core social values in different areas including freedom, the rule of law, human rights, religions, morality, commercial culture and social integrity. The spirit of "two systems" in "one country" is precisely to maintain such uniqueness of Hong Kong. It is a crucial cornerstone of Hong Kong as an international finance and commercial hub, that gains the recognition of international society, enterprises and investors. On the culture of language, Cantonese is the mother tongue of the general public in Hong Kong. We definitely oppose any means taken by the government to downgrade or abolish the legal status of Cantonese or the right of local citizens using it. The traditional Chinese characters used in Hong Kong should not be gradually replaced by the simplified Chinese characters used in Mainland China. Hong Kong has already been a mature city in terms of economic and social development since the 1980s. As such we sincerely ask the Chinese leaders to respect the uniqueness of Hong Kong and avoid adopting a paternalistic attitude or the Mainland’s governance mindset in dealing with Hong Kong. They should also try not to impose the Mainland’s culture or way of doing things onto Hong Kong. The value of Hong Kong lies precisely in its differences from the Mainland. Such differences enable Hong Kong to act as a bridge between the Mainland and the world, helping Mainland enterprises and capitals to enter the global arena and thereby contributing greatly to the continuous reform and opening up of our country.
Interpretation of Request no. 9:
Since the setting up of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1970s, Hong Kong has changed to be a clean city in just two to three decades. The clean governance over the past 40 years in Hong Kong has helped establish a fair and just society and a highly efficient government, which contributed to the brilliant economic miracles. However, there have been signs of resurgence of the corruption culture in recent years, with cases of rich businessmen, former senior government officials, and even ex-Chief Executive and ex-Commissioner of ICAC being associated with corruption. Should the clean culture disappear in Hong Kong, all our glorious achievements would be gone. We are therefore desperate to maintain a clean social system in Hong Kong at all costs. We support the central government’s anti-corruption moves; yet all these should begin at the root of the system and the culture. The value of Hong Kong to Mainland China is not only in economic or financial aspects but also in its culture of safeguarding conscience and justice, and the persistent implementation of an open and transparent system. Mainland cities can learn from Hong Kong’s clean governance and law, which will help China transform into a civilized and clean world power.
Interpretation of Request no. 10:
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of his vision of the “China Dream”. For the 1.4 billion Chinese people, the China Dream should be to realize a constitutional government on the land of China, where government power should be checked and the basic human rights of Chinese citizens should be subject to substantial constitutional protection. The real China Dream is the dream for a constitutional government pursued by the Chinese people for over a century. Even just from the self-interest angle of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China’s pace of globalization means it will not be too long before its people find the dictatorship of the CCP unacceptable. It is just a matter of time for the CCP to introduce constitutional reforms if only to sustain its ruling status in China. Democratic election is an essential step towards a constitutional government. Just like economic reforms, the Central Government would usually look for a pilot city and, if proved feasible, roll out the reforms on a countrywide basis. Similarly, to implement political and constitutional reforms, it is totally reasonable to first conduct a pilot democratic election. Across the nation, Hong Kong is no doubt the most suitable place for carrying out pilot constitutional reforms given its economic, educational and the rule of law levels. Therefore, if in 2017 Hong Kong people can elect our Chief Executive through a universal suffrage system that is in line with international standards, it will not only help Hong Kong develop steadily in the long term but will also be a crucial first step towards realizing the China Dream of a constitutional government.