The Basic Law protects Hong Kong people’s right to free speech. There is, therefore, no problem if an individual thinks that multiparty democracy is better than “one-party rule” and explains to others how Western-style democracy works better than “one-party rule”, as long as he/she allows others to challenge his/her views. However, an organized call to end the Communist Party of China-led political system is quite another matter.
First of all, an organized call to end China’s political system, such as shouting such slogans at a rally attended by many, typically does not allow people to challenge that view. During the annual June 4 rallies at Victoria Park, did the organizers ever invite or allow people to tell those present why ending China’s current political system will hurt China’s progress toward a happy and prosperous nation that can defend itself against invasion or subversion? If the answer is “No”, then the “free speech” is not about finding the truth, and is a political activity aimed at ending China’s existing political system.
The organizers claim that their call to end the CPC-led political system is because they love the country. It is possible that some do love the country and genuinely believe that ending the current political system would be good for the country. But belief is one thing; facts are another. Some would point to the political campaigns that drove the country into chaos and led to the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), which President Xi Jinping described as “10 years of devastation” in a speech published by People’s Daily on May 10, 2016. Xi acknowledged mistakes in the guiding principles among some Party leaders at the time that went “left” too far. The CPC eventually corrected its mistakes. The achievements of the new China that emerged after the country’s reform and opening-up in 1979 are there for everybody to see.
Thanks to its political system, China effectively mobilized the resources to save lives and protect the country from imported cases. China is the only major country that registered positive economic growth, of 2.3 percent, in 2020
Last year, China was hit by a completely new pandemic. Some mistakes were made by local officials initially because of their inexperience. But the country sprang into action very quickly. Wuhan was sealed, and then even Hubei province was locked down. The 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital was built in 10 days; the 1,600-bed Leishenshan Hospital was completed in 12 days. After the lockdowns, medical staff from all over the country came to the aid of Wuhan and Hubei. China was the first country to be hit by the pandemic and, unlike others such as the United States, was given no notice at all. Yet the pandemic was contained within months. The emergency specialty field hospitals were opened in early February 2020 and closed in April in the same year. Thanks to its political system, China effectively mobilized the resources to save lives and protect the country from imported cases. China is the only major country that registered positive economic growth, of 2.3 percent, in 2020.
China is the only country that has never had a year of negative growth since 1976. China’s life expectancy has risen from around 40 years in 1950 to over 77 years. China’s social safety net and particularly China’s public health insurance system now covers almost every citizen. China has enacted such laws as the Foreign Investment Law to protect the interests of foreign investors. A labor law was promulgated in 1995 to protect worker rights and welfare. The American Chamber of Commerce in China surveyed over 500 of its members doing business in China regarding intellectual property rights for its 2016 China Business Climate Survey Report, and found that IPR enforcement is improving, though challenges still remain. China’s Civil Code that took effect on Jan 1 supersedes the General Provisions of the Civil Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Marriage Law, the Guarantee Law, the Contract Law, the Property Law and the Tort Liability Law. It will form a systematic and comprehensive framework for the protection of citizens’ rights against infringement.
China has greatly improved its infrastructure, and now boasts the world’s longest and most efficient speed-rail and road system. Water supply and power are now available even in the most rural settlements. With access to the internet even in remote areas, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of extreme poverty. “Worry Free Over Two; Security Over Three” — worry free over food and clothing; security over education, housing and healthcare — are no mere slogans, but actually supported by policies and injection of resources. Today, public resources committed for healthcare, for example, are over 6 percent of GDP. This compares with less than 2 percent in 1980.
China has never waged a war of aggression, but has staunchly strengthened national defense. China is the world’s leader in green energy and reforestation, and has done much in ecological rejuvenation and reversing desertification.
A longitudinal study stretching from 2003 to 2016 conducted by the Ash Center at Harvard University, which captured opinion data from 32,000 individual respondents over eight surveys, found that over 95 percent of mainland residents were either “relatively satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with Beijing.
Against this background, political activity against the CPC-led political system goes against the country’s best interests and should be outlawed.
The author is a senior research fellow at the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS