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June 29, 2017

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False election reform won't satisfy Hong Kongers

Beijing is expected to soon decide how Hong Kong is going to elect its next leader amid growing calls from activists for a truly democratic election process. China is likely to promise universal suffrage in 2017, but the candidates will have to be vetted by a nominating committee. Is that really democracy?

It is democracy only in form: Everyone can vote and there are candidates. But it is not democracy in essence, as voters can choose from only those who are favored by Beijing.

Pro-democracy candidates will definitely be filtered out by the nominating committee whose membership will be strictly controlled by Beijing.

It is not the form of democracy that Hong Kongers have been asking for, but one pro-Beijing scholar recently was cited by AFP as urging them to accept it although it is "imperfect."

The scholar's reason is that the interests of the powerful business elite of Hong Kong must be protected.

The scholar, Wang Zhenmin, dean of Tsinghua University's school of law in mainland China, argued that the small group of business elites controls the destiny of Hong Kong and if their interests are ignored, capitalism will stop working in the city.

His arguments echo the business elites' "supreme principle" for running the city: Money is the only thing that matters, and anything that threatens the economic stability of Hong Kong must be stopped. And by economic stability they mean their own businesses, rather than the overall welfare of the people.

What Wang was basically saying is that whatever form of political institution that Hong Kong is going to have, the business elites will have to be firmly in control.

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