Why Hong Kong does not need more democracy right now

Why Hong Kong does not need more democracy right now

  • The chaos and instability unleashed by the quest for universal suffrage, the gridlock in the legislature and the government’s declining efficacy support a halt in the expansion of democracy

Ever since the future of postcolonial Hong Kong became an issue in the early 1980s, the quest for universal suffrage, narrowly equated with democracy, has in some quarters become the be all and end all of the “one country, two systems” project.

The outgoing British rulers deftly managed to escape censure for not granting Hongkongers universal suffrage much earlier, but China got blamed for allegedly breaking its “promise” of democracy in the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong.

In fact, the words “universal suffrage” never appear in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The promise of universal suffrage was made by China in the Basic Law, as a long-term possibility and subject to certain clear preconditions: “in the light of the actual situation” and “in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress”.