Hong Kong’s youth power

Hong Kong is an indisputable part of China, so think the Chinese. A new political party has been launched by young students who orchestrated the 2014 pro-democracy protests against mainland China. The new political party intends to campaign for a fresh referendum that will decide Hong Kong’s future and also its possible independence from the mainland. Hong Kong enjoys many freedoms, civic and political that are unheard of and unimaginable in the mainland. Chinese authorities viewed the earlier student protests as unwarranted and hence its demands unjustified. Thus the idea of independence for Hong Kong is unfeasible in China. Nineteen-year-old Joshua Wong is behind the formation of the new party; a young student was one of the leaders who had brought the city-state to a standstill. Currently Hong Kong serves as a special administrative region in the eyes of the People’s Republic of China, and therefore enjoys relatively free political and judicial institutional cultures.

The new party will be called Demosisto Party, although it remains unclear whether the new party plans to challenge the power structure, or merely make a place for itself as a newcomer. China is embroiled in many crises simultaneously – be it the sluggish economy, high profile names in dubious offshore dealings, delayed banking reforms, and ethnic tensions. And if Hong Kong becomes another addition to the miasma of problems afflicting the Chinese, it is not difficult to predict another brutal crackdown, reminiscent of what happened three decades ago to students demanding freedom and democracy in the Chinese capital. The previous seven-day protests did not yield any results or extract concessions from the Chinese government.

Hong Kong is an erstwhile part of the United Kingdom, and was a British colony until July 1997 when it was transferred to China, thus officially ending Britain’s 156 years of rule over the island. Even if Joshua Wong manages to garner support for the planned referendum, he would not be eligible to stand for elections until he is 21. The influx of the young in a democracy ought to be a cause for celebration everywhere; however it remains to be seen whether the Chinese authorities will see the new development as reason to rejoice or a political nuisance that needs urgent, perhaps brutal repression.

The Communists are not exactly known for accommodating dissent; all they want in a political regime is a strict follow up of party diktats. With the birth of the new party farther democratization of Hong Kong will be the most likely outcome. Independence from China is not an achievable aim in the minds of the Chinese authorities and the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who has dismissed the plan as not ‘realistic.’

(Asia News Network/The Statesman)