April 27, 2004


China Bars Steps by Hong Kong Toward More Democratic Voting (KEITH BRADSHER, 4/27/04, NY Times)

Beijing on Monday barred popular elections for Hong Kong's chief executive in 2007 and ruled out any expanded voting by the general public for the legislature in 2008, in the latest in a series of moves to restrict democracy here.

The decision angered democracy advocates here, who promised street demonstrations, and drew sharp criticism from the United States and Britain, which said Beijing was eroding the autonomy of Hong Kong that it had pledged to preserve.

Beijing has been intervening increasingly in the territory's political affairs. It has now made clear that it intends to give Hong Kong's people a very junior role in decisions about how to open the electoral system in the future.

Bill Rammell, the British foreign office minister for China and Hong Kong, called in China's ambassador in London to complain about the move, saying in a statement that it was "inconsistent with the `high degree of autonomy' which Hong Kong is guaranteed under the Joint Declaration." The declaration, by Britain and China in 1984, cleared the way for Hong Kong's transfer to Chinese rule.

China's leaders are tightening controls here after a series of developments that began with a march by 500,000 people last July 1 to protest stringent internal-security legislation.

In November elections for neighborhood councils, pro-Beijing parties were trounced by pro-democracy parties, suggesting a grim future at the polls for Beijing's allies. Finally, Taiwan's politicians moved further toward independence, making Hong Kong less useful as an example of how Taiwan might someday be reunited politically with the mainland.

The Meaning of the American Revolution: A letter to H. Niles (John Adams, 13 February 1818):
The American Revolution was not a common event. Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe. And when and where are they to cease?

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. While the king, and all in authority under him, were believed to govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors, they thought themselves bound to pray for the king and queen and all the royal family, and all in authority under them, as ministers ordained of God for their good; but when they saw those powers renouncing all the principles of authority, and bent upon the destruction of all the securities of their lives, liberties, and properties, they thought it their duty to pray for the continental congress and all the thirteen State congresses, &c.

From Palestine to Kurdistan to Taiwan to Hong Kong, folks are having trouble learning the simple lesson that John Adams teaches: a people who begin thinking of themselves as a nation have already effected the Revolution and they will have an independent state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2004 8:24 AM

Oh, I hope not. People seeing themselves as a nation and demanding their independent states destroyed Europe, are easy marks for demagogues, have kept Africa in turbulent penury and undercut the primacy of values like democracy, freedom, civilization and faith.

Posted by: Peter B at April 27, 2004 10:21 AM

Worked great for the Basques, eh?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 28, 2004 12:32 AM

Violence stopped when the Basques were given autonomy.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 7:57 AM

They don't have autonomy in France.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 28, 2004 11:32 PM

Palestinians in Jordan don't have autonomy--but there is an autonomous Palestine. You only get one state.

Posted by: oj at April 28, 2004 11:37 PM

Really? Which ones do the Arabs get?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 29, 2004 2:25 AM

The Arabs already have a bunch, just like the Anglos. Great peoples get many. But, for instance, once Jews conceived of themselves as a state they got an Arab one.

Posted by: oj at April 29, 2004 8:32 AM