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2014年10月 3日 (金)

香港抗議デモ 混乱の長期化が懸念される

The Yomiuri Shimbun
As Hong Kong protests drag on, Beijing should consider dialogue
香港抗議デモ 混乱の長期化が懸念される

In the years since Hong Kong reverted from British rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the territory has never witnessed such scenes of chaos. The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping has found itself with a major political problem on its hands.

Students demanding greater democracy in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive, and supporters of other pro-democracy groups, are continuing to occupy a commercial district, the financial district, areas around government buildings and other parts of central Hong Kong. On Wednesday, which was China’s National Day holiday, many students and other protesters gathered in the central part of the city.

The demonstrations have snarled some transport networks and caused other disruptions to people’s daily lives. This is an extremely serious situation.

The protests have their origin in the August decision by China’s National People’s Congress on a new system for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

Although the Xi administration approved, for the first time, the introduction of a “normal election” in which eligible voters in Hong Kong can directly elect the territory’s leader, any candidate who is essentially not pro-Beijing will not be allowed on the ballot.

Hong Kong is legally guaranteed a high degree of autonomy in all matters under the “one country, two systems” formula. We can understand why the students have slammed the 2017 plan as a “fake election.”

A White House spokesman even said, “The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong ... and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people.”

Hong Kong authorities have responded by using tear gas and pepper spray against the protesters, and tried to clear away the students who have boycotted classes and repeatedly taken part in street demonstrations. Many arrests have been made.

Attrition warfare

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has said he expects the protests to continue “for quite a long time.” His comment embodies the uncomfortable state of affairs for authorities that have no effective options to quickly bring an end to the situation.

The approach of the Xi administration will hold the key to how this situation pans out. Beijing has denounced the occupation of Hong Kong’s streets as “illegal activities that undermine social stability.” The Chinese leaders are likely concerned that swallowing the students’ demands would render them unable to exercise sovereignty over Hong Kong as they would like.

They are undoubtedly also gripped by a sense of alarm that these protests could rekindle demands for greater democracy in the rest of China, which have been bottled up since the Tiananmen Square Incident in 1989.

Events in Hong Kong could also derail any unification strategy for China and Taiwan that would seek to apply the “one China, two systems” policy. We wonder if demands for greater self-rule in regions home to ethnic minorities will grow stronger.

The ability to impose Beijing-orchestrated governance appears to be reaching its limit. The current situation in Hong Kong vividly illustrates this point.

The worst-case scenario of using armed force to suppress the protests must be avoided. The Xi administration should show serious consideration for Hong Kong’s autonomy, and resolve this situation through dialogue.

Worryingly, the protests are starting to have an impact on the economy. Stock prices have fallen, and several banks have suspended operations.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s foremost international finance centers. If the demonstrations there drag on, they could even become a destabilizing factor for other financial markets around the world ― including those in Japan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 2, 2014)Speech


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