One Country Two Systems is great and foreign governments definitely should not sanction Hong Kong

(The column that I was unable to publish in Apple Daily)

For no particular reason, I decided to write a column today, June 17th, explaining my long and firmly held belief that One Country Two Systems is going absolutely wonderfully, and that no foreign government should ever think about sanctioning the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.

Everyone knows this is how I really, genuinely feel. Those of you who remember the highly esteemed journalists of Wen Wei Po following me in December 2018 undoubtedly also remember the reason why they followed me: they were fans, eager to catch my latest positive-energy insights about the glory of One Country Two Systems and the Chinese Communist Party. We swapped classic quotes from Chairman Xi and celebrated the opening of the high-speed rail checkpoint in Kowloon. Oh yeah!

So, everyone, buckle up and get ready for a hearty helping of positive energy in this week’s column.

The first point that I would like to raise, extremely sincerely: One Country Two Systems is going wonderfully. Please allow me to provide three points in support of this extremely correct standpoint.

First of all, historically speaking, One Country Two Systems is a glorious end to the shame of colonization. The Hong Kong people lived for a century and a half under the humiliation of colonial rule, and what did they have to show for all that colonial suffering other than a notably high standard of living, transparent and accountable legal and political institutions, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly? Enough of that mess, right?!?

Second of all, one only has to look around at the vibrant state of Hong Kong’s political, legal, and cultural institutions today to know that the Chinese government is definitely abiding by its promise of One Country Two Systems. A dynamic and accountable political system, a transparent legal system, and an active press that serves as the fourth estate without any threat of repercussions. After all, One Country Two Systems and a high degree of autonomy are written into the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, and we all know that of course Peking would never break its promises. In fact, anyone who thinks otherwise just might be violating the National Security Law! What’s that hotline number?

Finally, the end of colonization in 1997 and the successful implementation of One Country Two Systems in the twenty-four years since means that the Chinese government could definitely never be a colonial power forcing a completely alien and failed dictatorial model onto Hong Kong: indeed, not even the slightest chance of that!

So, on the topic of One Country Two Systems, I agree with highly intelligent and popular politician Leung Chun-ying. In 2010, Leung commented that Deng Xiaoping should have been the first Chinese citizen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize [].

Now, readers might be surprised to learn I have an ever so slight difference of opinion with Leung here: a rare occurrence and, I’ll admit, a dangerous stance to take, considering that Leung is literally the city’s most beloved politician. But I’ll just use my freedom of speech to go ahead and say it: Leung argued that Deng Xiaoping should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifting millions of Chinese people out of poverty, but I think Deng deserves the prize for coming up with the highly successful model of One Country Two Systems. You see, as Carrie Lam said, there is still a wide spectrum of permissible political opinions in Hong Kong today: we can all state different reasons why Deng Xiaoping deserves the Nobel Peace Prize!

Having established the greatness of One Country Two Systems, I will now turn to my second extremely sincere point: definitely under no circumstances should any foreign government ever even think about sanctioning Hong Kong or China. Now, please allow me to provide three points in support of this extremely correct standpoint.

First, please refer to my points above. There is no reason for anyone to sanction the Hong Kong or Chinese government because One Country Two Systems is so awesome. One could say that if, for example, the regime was denying the Hong Kong people their legally guaranteed rights to free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly, then one could understand why some governments might pursue sanctions against the figures involved in such crimes. But let’s all breathe a great big sigh of relief, because thankfully that is definitely not happening in Hong Kong!

Second, if on account of their lack of understanding of China’s culture and national conditions (dropping the Mandarin term guoqing here to show my learning), foreign governments have any objections to anything that the Hong Kong or Chinese governments are doing, there are definitely so many better ways to deal with those disagreements other than sanctions.

I tell you, Xi Jinping seems like a reasonable guy. Sit down and have a heart-to-heart chat with him, looking deep into his eyes and sharing your thoughts and feelings: many authoritative China experts have told me that the best way to address issues with China is quietly behind closed doors, rather than engaging in megaphone diplomacy. Megaphone diplomacy draws public attention to issues and thus creates pressure: much better to simply raise issues behind closed doors and accept vague and empty promises. If you are sincere, I’m confident that Xi will patiently listen to your thoughts and reflect on his ways: after all, his job is to serve the people!

If by chance your heart-to-heart chat with Xi doesn’t work, governments could then take the more drastic step of expressing concern.

And if that doesn’t work, express deep concern. That’ll do it, problem solved!

As for my third point, I’m sorry but I really can’t think of a logical third reason why governments should not pursue sanctions. But I really genuinely believe this, and you are just going to have to take my word for it.

In conclusion, let us imagine for a moment an odd parallel universe in which the Hong Kong and Chinese governments were engaging in the type of repressive activities that would merit sanctions. Imagine, for example, that the government was shutting down public commemoration of a massacre that definitely did not happen, or suppressing freedom of the press by conducting raids on newspaper offices, or breaking promises of democratization and arresting the entire opposition. Such behavior would not only be in clear violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but would also be completely unacceptable affronts to the natural human desire for freedom and dignity. Again, this is of course a purely hypothetical exercise with no relationship to reality.

But in this hypothetical reality, this imaginary repressive state could shut down commemorations, do raids on newspaper offices, arrest people, delete critical articles, and even force people to speak lies that go against their own deeply held convictions. Yet all of these endless efforts would be only superficial and would be doomed to fail, because the one thing that they could never do is raid people’s brains and stop people from thinking.

And in that sense, even in this hypothetical alternate universe in which things were not going well, I find comfort in the fact that there is no way anyone could ever stop me from believing that One Country Two Systems is great, and that no government should ever sanction Hong Kong or China.