Sunday, 5 October 2014

China ‘unlikely’ to give in to HK protesters: Shanmugam

Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also pointed out the anti-China bias in Western media reports, and urged the people of Hong Kong to consider the implications of a change from the Basic Law.

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China ‘unlikely’ to give in to HK protesters: Shanmugam

Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam also pointed out the anti-China bias in Western media reports, and urged the people of Hong Kong to consider the implications of a change from the Basic Law.

04 October 2014

China is “unlikely” to give in to the demands of Occupy Central protesters in Hong Kong as doing so may affect the nation’s stability, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in an interview with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao published on Saturday (Oct 4).

The Chinese government cannot allow Hong Kong to change the system in China, he said.

“What it allows in Hong Kong could have an impact on the rest of China. So China will be very careful,” he said. “This perspective is entirely understandable.”

From China’s perspective, it needs unity, progress and a “better life” for its 1.3 billion people, Mr Shanmugam noted. To achieve that, a primary requirement is governance.

China’s leadership believes that full multi-party elections at this stage will set the country back from achieving its goals, he said, adding that China will look at the United States to confirm its view that democracy is not right for it at this point.

“So, China will be firm – it is not going to institute any major political change to copy the Western models in the short term. The leadership believes that any such move will be disastrous for China and will hurt the people of China,” Mr Shanmugam said.

At present, China’s GDP per capita is about US$6,800. He pointed out that China’s leaders would want the country to become “moderately prosperous” before contemplating any move to democratise.

ANTI-CHINA BIAS IN WESTERN MEDIA

There has been lots of anti-China bias in Western media reports, Mr Shanmugam said, noting that reports often state that China is denying democracy and impacting on the freedoms that helped Hong Kong become successful.

But the truth is that Hong Kong did not have a democratic system for 150 years under British rule. Hong Kong did fine. At the time, both the British and the Western media did not think democracy was necessary for Hong Kong, he said.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 does not mention universal suffrage, and Beijing’s proposal is “more than what Hong Kong ever had under the British” – a point which the Western media have missed, Mr Shanmugam said.

IMPLICATIONS OF CHANGING THE BASIC LAW

Occupy Central protesters in Hong Kong need to understand that China has acted in accordance with the Basic Law, he said.

“If Hong Kongers want a change from the Basic Law – they have to recognise that Hong Kong is part of China, and there are some things China will accept, and some things which are red lines for China.”

Protesters need to understand Hong Kong’s “extreme reliance” on China for jobs and their livelihood. “There needs to be a clear understanding of China’s largesse towards Hong Kong even as an anti-China mood is stoked up,” Mr Shanmugam said. “Is the average Hong Konger prepared for the trade-offs?”