TORTURE: ASIAN AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES | JUNE 2014
VOLUME 03 NUMBER 03


COVER STORY 

HONG KONG SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER THE HANDOVER

Interestingly, among the Hong Kong political elites who agreed that there was validity to the concept of distinct Asian values, there was significant disagreement as to what such values actually meant. The affirmative sample broke into three groups.

by BOB BEATTY

IN late spring of 1997 I ventured to Hong Kong from Arizona State University, decamping for several months to try to understand what might happen to Hong Kong after it was handed over to the People’s Republic of China. Most scholars at the time were pessimistic, including one well-known political scientist who wrote, “Little of what the world has come to associate with Hong Kong will survive intact.” The thinking was that the leadership in the PRC, along with many Hong Kongers, subscribed to an “Asian Values” approach to Hong Kong that would not only forestall democratization, but would also erode the civil liberties and pluralism in Hong Kong society which could pressure the mainland for democratization.

I spent parts of 1997 and the following years talking to Hong Kong elites; 128 interviews done with 89 Hong Kong political elites to be specific. As a barometer of the representativeness of the entire sample in terms of ideology, 56% I would classify as “conservative/Pro-China” while 44% I would classify as “liberal/pan-democratic.”

The results of this research eventually ended up as a book, (“Democracy, Asian Values, and Hong Kong” Praeger Press), but seeing Hong Kong now, and looking back to 1997, while I understand the immense frustration many Hong Kongers have at the glacial pace of electoral reform, I also see that the importance of “Hong Kong values,” rather than “Asian Values,” has been a key element of its unique capacity to maintain its identity under PRC rule and continue the push for democratization.

CONFUCIANISM AS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC

In The Third Wave (1991), Samuel Huntington summarizes the role of culture as an obstacle to democratization. Says Huntington, “It has been argued that the world’s great historic cultural traditions vary significantly in the extent to which their attitudes, values, beliefs, and related behavior patterns are conducive to the development of democracy. A profoundly antidemocratic culture would impede the spread of democratic norms in the society, deny legitimacy to democratic institutions, and thus greatly complicate if not prevent the emergence and effective functioning of those institutions. The cultural thesis comes in two forms. The more restrictive version states that only Western culture provides a suitable base for the development of democratic institutions and, consequently, that democracy is largely inappropriate for non-Western societies. A less restrictive version of the cultural obstacle argument holds that certain non-Western cultures are peculiarly hostile to democracy. The two cultures most frequently cited in this regard are Confucianism and Islam.”

The idea that Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture are undemocratic has been widely propagated. Noted author Lucien Pye identified several characteristics of Chinese traditional culture, including conformity and anti-individualism, as unchanging and explanatory of its authoritarian nature. For his part Huntington describes the “Confucian ethos” as the “values of authority, hierarchy, the subordination of individual rights and interests, the importance of consensus, the avoidance of confrontation, ‘saving face’, and in general, the supremacy of the state over society and of society over the individual.”

SHOW  OF FORCE. Protesters take part in a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2014.

SHOW OF FORCE. Protesters take part in a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2014. | photo by Amila Sampath

In the debate over Confucianism and how it should be interpreted in regards to democracy, anti-democratic Confucian writings can be countered with pro-democratic Confucian writings. Amartya Sen cites Confucian passages which he says show that Confucius did not recommend blind allegiance to the state, and that “Confucius provides a clear pointer to the fact that the two pillars of the imagined edifice of Asian values – loyalty to family and obedience to the state- can be in severe conflict with each other.” However, what proponents of Asian values have taken Confucius to mean – irrespective of what he really advocated – is what possesses true political significance in practical debate.

Thus, for our purposes, we must clarify what “Asian values” mean for those who advocate them. Author Jim Rowher offers a good summary: “The need for self-sufficiency has been the greatest spur to the creation, and retention, of what have come to be called “Asian values”: the family rather than the individual as the paramount unit of society; a preference for order over freedom and the common good over individual fulfillment; hence, considerable deference to authority; frugality; and a belief in the virtues of education and hard work.”

THE PROPONENTS OF ASIAN VALUES

The argument that Confucian and even other Asian societies are unlikely to produce an open political system largely for cultural reasons was trumpeted initially on the world stage by Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s former President, and Dr. Mohomad Mahathir, former Prime Minister of Malaysia. However, over the years they have been joined by leaders from the PRC, Burma, and even Japan. The then-Prime Ministers of China and Japan, Li Peng and Morihiro Hosokawa, made a joint statement in 1994 in which they warned the West against forcing their type of democracy upon others, a refrain that continues even today in the speeches of some PRC leaders.

Lee Kuan Yew’s arguments fell into two general veins. The first is the link between “stability” and economic growth, or the claim that non-democratic systems are better at bringing about economic development. Lee argues that democracy features too many special interests clashing over necessarily limited benefits and that decisions can’t be made for the good of the whole community in that context. He says that a strong leader with no disruptive opposition is needed to ensure economic and social prosperity. Lee’s successor as Prime Minister in Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, remarked that political opposition is not a good idea: “If able people are divided into two groups contending all the time for support over policies, you are stressing society every day.” Lee added, “Americans believe that out of contention, out of the clash of different ideas and ideals, you get good government. That view is not shared in Asia.”

The second theme vital to Lee Kuan Yew’s views on Asian values is the primacy of culture. Lee believes that the political forms which develop in a country depend very much upon that country’s culture and society – and that these deep and often immutable traits predetermine success or failure of the political systems set up in a given country. Lee Kuan Yew argues that thousands of years of different developmental paths have made humans inherently different from each other. As Lee has said, “To have the kind of democracy Britain or America has developed, you need certain cultural impulses in a people…But China has always had an autocratic center. The king emerges; he makes himself emperor by knocking out all the other chieftans and all the other kings. Then he sends you his magistrate, a superior being. He sends the magistrate to look after this village in this prefecture. And if you disobey the magistrate, that’s damn foolish…You cannot break out of your culture altogether…Culture is very deep rooted.”

Lee Kuan Yew stated in his numerous visits to Hong Kong that the SAR would do well to copy Singapore and that Hong Kong should stop its “flirtations” with democracy. Lee was unabashed in his views, remarking in a 1992 speech at Hong Kong University with then-Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten in attendance that “I have never believed that democracy brings progress. I know it to have brought regression. I watch it year by year, and it need not have been thus”
The possibility of Hong Kong heading down the Yewian path was raised by Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, in 1997. Tung gave numerous interviews to both local and international media in which he announced that his three “political heroes” were Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher. More importantly, Tung gave a speech to the Asia Society’s Annual Dinner on May 15, 1997, a speech entitled “Pride in Being Chinese”.

The speech focused on the “values” of Hong Kong, with Tung saying that Hong Kong was a blend of Chinese and Western values, and that “much of the success of Hong Kong today is attributable to the rule of law, western systems of governance and the freedoms we enjoy.” Yet most of the speech emphasized Hong Kongers as holders of Asian values foremost, and then Chinese values. In Yewian fashion he emphasized the “Chineseness” of Hong Kongers.

Tung began the speech by saying that “Asian people can and will hold on to their values and beliefs but at the same time absorb values and beliefs of other people. The combination has made you remarkably successful wherever you go.” Then Tung waxed philosophical, saying that with the impending handover looming, it was time for Hong Kongers to “…ask who we are. What are the values we stand for? And what is the social fabric that ties us together? These points need to be crystallized in order for our community to move forward with clarity of direction and unity of purpose.”

Tung placed himself firmly in the Confucian camp by listing what he considered “the values we hold dear.” They included “trust, love and respect for our family and elders, integrity, honesty, and loyalty towards all, commitment to education, a belief in order and stability, an emphasis on obligations to the community rather than rights of the individual, and a preference for consultation rather than open confrontation.”

Did Hong Kong political elites have a clear idea, like Tung Chee-hwa, about what Asian values were? Did Hong Kong political elites see Asian values as having political consequences? Do these values, like in Singapore, necessitate the limitation of certain freedoms for the good of the community? Was there a preference in Hong Kong among political elites for the Singapore model?

For Emily Lau, current Democratic Party Chair, the debate was linked wholly to stalling democracy in Hong Kong, remarking “I don’t agree with that, the Asian values idea. There is nothing inherently Western about democracy, and I think it is very demeaning to say that democracy belongs to the West.”

Former Democratic Party legislator K.S. Tsang responded to the question in similar fashion, saying that “Democracy is the same whether it is in the East or West. Human rights do not have any national borders.” Independent legislator and business executive Ambrose Cheung was equally succinct in his dismissal of the concept, noting that “Values in a society are always changing, always developing, as that society changes and develops.” Union activist and Legco member Y.C. Leung framed his answer in terms of control, saying that, “I think when they are talking about Asian values they are talking about a high degree of control. They are talking about controlling society from the top. On the one hand, they talk about people being individually responsible, yet they are patriarchal, they want to manipulate everything. They want to copy the patterns of Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew. They’re so conservative, they just don’t understand.”

One interviewee argued that Asian values are difficult to take seriously when the differences between the Hong Kong Cantonese Chinese and mainland Chinese are so marked. He called the idea of separate Asian values “a big crock.” He went on to say, “I’m an Asian and I don’t feel any different from non-Asians,” and asked “Is jailing somebody a value? Is taking away somebody’s rights a value? Look at the people who stress Asian values: Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, Communist leaders in China, Mahathir in Malaysia, Suharto in Indonesia. If Asian values are supposed to be consultative and Western values competitive, who’s being consulted in these countries? Asian values are really what is convenient for these people to hold onto power. What kind of civilization are we talking about that advocates subversion of rights and crackdowns? I don’t know of any.”

Some Hong Kong politicians felt that Asian values are used by rulers to maintain power rather than to promote some sort of cultural identity. C.K. Sin, a Legco member from the Democratic Party, said “I am Asian, I don’t know what Asian values are!” For Sin, it all came down to power politics, and only the Asian leaders, not the people they rule, have distinct values: “I think Asian leaders, they do have Asian values, but I don’t think Asian people have particular Asian values. I think these are excuses for them not to change their status, they are excuses. If you talk about freedom for people, it is the same everywhere. If you talk about the rule of law, if you talk about freedom of speech, human rights, I cannot see any differences between Western people and Asian people. If you shoot a Westerner, he will die. If you shoot an Asian, he will die also. If you hit a Westerner in the face, he’ll feel pain and if you hit an Asian, also pain. What’s the difference? If you locked an Asian and a European in prison they both want freedom. Asian values are for the political leaders in Asian countries because this is an easy way to retain power. This is the cheapest way I can see for power elites to stay in power, the safest way for them.”

Former Legco member Fred Li put it more succinctly: “They push Asian values in order not to follow the type of democracy the Western countries enjoy because they have direct elections.” For current Legco member Albert Chan, also of the Democratic Party, the use of Asian values goes back in history, saying “When a leader wants to take control over the citizens, traditionally they talk about something from the past, something from the old days. When you look back at Chinese history, every time a new dynasty wanted to tighten up control of the people then they would bring back Confucius. They would tell them that they have to obey the King, that they have to obey the ruler. These tactics have been used for thousands of years and they were effective.”

A common refrain among those who disagree with the Asian values argument is that the values that are purported to be Asian are found among all cultures and civilizations, and that Asians have no special claim to uniqueness. Christine Loh, now Under Secretary for the Environment in Hong Kong, said she was perplexed: “They’ve never spelled out any values which I can’t detect in other cultures. So I think they’re just saying all this because they want to choose certain types of values that aren’t as prevalent everywhere for their own convenience. Hard work? Good God, the Chinese aren’t the only people who are hard working. Taking care of families? That’s not something that is peculiar to Chinese people. Authoritarianism? What, do we want that? I’m not sure Asians want that more than anybody else.”

Anthony Cheung, an academic and former Democratic Party legislator, said that within Chinese history and culture there is division about what should be stressed: “I think it is all a matter of interpretation. I mean, certainly you can find very authoritarian values in the so-called Asian culture. There’s the idea of the patriarchal system, the history of an emperor who is sort of supreme and so on. But equally you can find very populist writings among ancient Asian scholars. Even in Confucius, in Mencius, you can see writings which say, OK, if you’re the emperor of the King you have to be enlightened and you have to respect the view of the ordinary people. So it depends on which part of Asia’s culture and writings that you pick on when you define Asian values. They can be used to support any ideas. Among the so-called Western Christian values you can find democratic sentiments as well as authoritarian ones. I mean, in the Bible you can find everything! So I think it would be too simplistic to suggest that any Asian values favor a more authoritarian type of system.”

For some opponents of Asian values the concept strikes them as simply ridiculous and outdated. Former Democratic Party chair and Legco member Martin Lee said about CE Tung, “He (was) always saying to me, ‘Now Martin, you have to think of the big picture. When China gets better, then Hong Kong gets better.’ Then I say, ‘What happens if China gets worse?’ I tell him that we have to have safeguards, and democracy is a safeguard. When I tell him that he is eroding the rule of law in Hong Kong, he tells me, ‘Oh, don’t be so legalistic.’ But I tell him, ‘That’s exactly the point.’”

A close friend of Tung’s, former Liberal party chairman and Legco member Allen Lee, rejected Asian values outright, saying, “Asian values? Naw. When you talk about Asian values, well, they can’t be used to slow down democracy. If you look at Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, anywhere in Asia – even the Philippines or the ASEAN countries – you see that many have democracy and elections. Asian values, Western values, there’s no difference on the matter of human rights, on the matter of democracy. So, I think when you say Asian values, I say, who are the people who understand what Asian values really mean?”

Many of those I talked to who did not believe in Asian values believed that the invocation of such values by leaders is done for political reasons, not cultural. For those – mostly from the liberal camp – the focus was upon the universality of the values Tung and others ascribe to Asians. Further, they linked their criticism of the concept of Asian values not with Tung’s list of attributes – hard work, thrift, and consensus – but in Yewian terms, with the suppression of human rights and non-belief in Western democratic institutions and processes. For many of these respondents, as they indicated in their answers, Asian values cannot be evaluated or discussed in a political vacuum but rather are so laden with the baggage of authoritarianism and undemocratic rule as to be clearly a tool of the generic Asian dictator.

THOSE WHO BELIEVE

Interestingly, among the Hong Kong political elites who agreed that there was validity to the concept of distinct Asian values, there was significant disagreement as to what such values actually meant. The affirmative sample broke into three groups. The “Political” group included those who said that Asian values do indeed exist and that there were some political ramifications because of them, although in some cases loosely defined. Terms associated with Asian values for this group included “stability,” “respect for authority,” “community over individual,” “political apathy,” “a different system than democracy,” “different ideas of human rights,” “not copying blindly what America has,” and also “individual responsibility rather than individualistic concerns.”

The second group was the “Yes, but…” group, in which respondents denied that Asian values had anything to do with political concerns, democracy, or human rights. For this group, Asian values were personal, familial values that had more to do with how one lived one’s life and nothing to do with establishing a governmental system or political model. This group included members of pro-democracy parties as well as conservative businessmen and legislators. The third group was the “We’re not Westerners or Mainlanders” group, in which respondents would admit to certain Hong Kong values, even spelling some of these out explicitly, but didn’t recognize particularly unique cultural traits Hong Kongers shared with China or other Asian societies.

GROUP ONE: VALUES ARE POLITICAL

The most outspoken advocate of Asian values in his zeal to indict the West and hail the “Eastern way,” was businessman and former Legislative Councilor David Chu. Chu argued that because of cultural differences, the type of political and economic systems that Asian nations (but especially China and Hong Kong) embrace will make them more efficient than Western systems because there will be no large government, nor a welfare state, labor unions, strikes, or a societal safety net. He felt that Asians will not copy the one-man, one-vote model of Western democracy, a model that Chu says makes it very difficult to cut government and social welfare because, “Most people, even educated people, vote on their short term benefits, and almost by definition welfare systems and more welfare will receive more votes.”

Specifically, Chu identified Asian values as individual honor and individual responsibility. But when talking generally he described the “Asian way” as a system in which consultation is preferred over political competition, societal consensus stressed over individual freedoms, and elite participation in governing seen as crucial so that decision making isn’t relegated to the “lowest common denominator.” Chu said that Asian values have definite political system ramifications: “In Hong Kong we don’t want to copy blindly what America has. To me the simple one-man, one-vote democracy alone has proven to be not the idea solution. I think a one-man, one-vote system coupled with a system of appointed representatives – or coupled with the participation of the elite in society – I think this model will be much more successful and competitive and I think the world will learn this in the next half or one century”

Two other former Hong Kong legislators and a Liberal Party official in the sample made an implicit link between Asian values and elite democracy, with one former conservative independent legislator noting that Asians are “politically apathetic” and “don’t like to be bothered with politics, they want to be left alone to do what they do best, which is work.” Former Legco member Edward Ho argued, “People are not so interested in politics as long as they know that the government is managing the society in the right way, that the government is giving them the freedoms that they want and the rights we enjoy, and that there is a good thriving economy…So I think that what Mr. Tung meant in his speech was that as long as there is a good government then it really isn’t necessary that you have to proceed in the same way that a Western society does politically.”

A former official from the Liberal Party party noted that Asians expect to follow their leaders without question, as they are molded from childhood to follow orders from their fathers; “As Asians we’re more closed in on ourselves and we expect our subordinates to be very dutiful and obedient.”

“Stability” was also mentioned by some respondents as an Asian value. Former DAB legislator Kam Chan Ngan indicated that for Asians nothing was more important than “leading a stable life and avoiding chaos,” while for former Legco member S.K. Ngai, stability in a non-politicized environment is his definition of the Asian ideal so that “All of us, from all walks of life, including our children and the next generation, can live a very humble, prudent, useful, and free life in the same way, in the same pattern, that we’ve always had.”

Former Hong Kong Progressive Alliance Chairman and Legco member Ambrose Lau was one of the rare interviewees who spoke of Asian values in the context of human rights impact. Lau indicated that “we must acknowledge that there are cultural differences” in regard to interpretations of human rights, “because some people take the view that human rights are an absolute right while others take the view that human rights, in certain respects, are relative.”

GROUP TWO: FAMILIAL, NOT POLITICAL

The second group, who said that they believed there were Asian values but that these had little to nothing to do with democratization and human rights, had some difficulty explaining what Asian values were. Upon further probing, some respondents even retracted their initial agreement with the concept.

David Li, a former independent member of Legco from the Finance functional constituency, said, “Do I believe in Asian values? I basically believe there is such a thing as Asian values. I think the emphasis in Asian values is based on self-help and family, and I think that given the structure of Chinese families it does play a part…But, Asian values might also be universal values too, in terms of talking about family, talking about education, talking about respect for elders. I mean, those are basically in any civilized society…I think there can be an overemphasis by some about Asian values.”

Less confused were Hong Kong political elites who clearly affirm the existence of Asian values but just as clearly distinguish them from undemocratic rule. This is evident in the comments of one former Legco member, saying, “There are some shared values between China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but they are traditional values such as honoring your family, honor, trust and hard work. They have nothing to do with whether democracy is suitable here or not.”

A former independent legislator remarked “I think there are certain Asian values different from the West, but they don’t necessarily preclude democratization. Regarding freedom and democracy, those are certainly not East or West concepts – it has become a universal desire to take part in your own rule, the rule of people, the ability of the people to be in charge.”

Members of the Democratic Party could be expected to deny anything which might contraindicate democratization in Hong Kong, since that is their key party goal for the territory. Given the anti-democratic connotations inherent in the Asian values debate, interestingly, some of these legislators admitted to Asian values, but did so in a way that denies the political implications. And, in some responses, the Asian values issue becomes a springboard to further the argument for democracy in Hong Kong. Andrew Cheng, a former Democratic Party Legislative Councilor said, “Of course Western and Eastern civilization has some basic differences, of course I understand that. But in respect to human rights and freedom and democracy I can’t see any differences. I don’t see the Asian who is happy to be oppressed or copped into prison by their government who is saying “Oh, I am happy because I can give up my liberty for social stability! OK, prosecute me, tie my hands because I’m Asian!” That’s stupid, come on! If Asians are given the right to vote for their leaders, do you think they will say “No, no, I give up my vote, please have the government choose for me.” Will they say this? Of course not. Everyone wants their freedom and a way to express it democratically. In this sense there’s no difference between Western and Asian values at all.”

Long-time Legco member Albert Ho described a Chinese aversion to the welfare state, but only as a prelude to an argument for democracy, saying “I think the Chinese culture is somehow different. I think in the Chinese community people do not traditionally have a dependency mentality. They would rather choose to work and ask the government to leave them alone. You know, they say, we don’t need help from you, don’t come to us, I think that is the traditional Chinese mentality, and I think you can see that with the overseas Chinese everywhere, when they are left alone they will prosper. But I think that when you are talking about democracy, when you’re talking about human rights, I mean, we’re talking about some values that are universal. We cannot say that in Asia human rights should be understood differently and that people should employ human rights in a certain particular form. Human rights are universal.”

Thus, a number of elites I talked to turned the arguments of Lee Kuan Yew around by indicating that there are Asian values but using that admission as a forum to describe the universal values of human rights, rule of law, and democracy. And, as shown above, even those respondents who did not want to use the debate for a defense of democracy ultimately focus upon universal values after contemplating what Asian values might really mean. There was therefore an unintended similarity in responses between two types of interviewee, the liberal and the conservative. Both types ended up their comments, usually upon further probing by the interviewer, by moving farther away from specific Asian values and closer to ideas stressing universal human values.

GROUP THREE: HONG KONG VALUES

The third group of respondents who affirmed Asian values were those political elites who framed the debate in terms of “Hong Kong values” rather than values more broadly common to Asia or even to Chinese people from other countries, including the mainland. It is intriguing that in the context of the Asian values debate these Hong Kong political elites from my sample chose to identify Hong Kong values rather than explicate general Asian values. This is problematic for the argument of Asian values, as it is based upon the supposition that all Asian societies (or at the very least, all East Asian societies) share elements that distinguish them from the West. However, numerous Hong Kong political elites, including politicians from both the liberal and conservatives camps took this singular approach to the question of values.

Two self-described conservative business people and former legislators focused only upon Hong Kong values when asked about Asian values. One, a managing director of a very large property development firm in Hong Kong, said “There are some values that are peculiar to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is culturally bound to a strong belief in entrepreneurship, a strong work ethic. There’s a value in self-sufficiency. This has created a confident, successful cosmopolitan territory that believes in the free market economy.”

A similar comment was elicited from a businesswoman and political activist who was one of the most pro-PRC and anti-Democratic party elites interviewed in the sample. While she did not want to see democracy introduced into Hong Kong now or even in the short-term future, she also did not link this desire to any cultural value within the Chinese. Instead she focused on crucial and unique Hong Kong values and how those values can influence China: “Our values can change China. Things such as hard work, entrepreneurship, and a certain element of wiliness and craftiness. An ability to get things done and not want something from the state, to do things on your own.”

Dr. C.H. Leong, a former independent legislator representing the medical functional constituency, put forth a view that others also mentioned: That Hong Kongers are proud to be unlike mainland Chinese. Leong’s view was one that transcends party lines, as this attitude was found across political affiliation. Said Leong, “Hong Kong Chinese are very much different from mainland Chinese. To have Hong Kong running successfully you must ensure that any Asian values, or Chinese values, are from Hong Kong Chinese, and not Chinese Chinese. Having said that, that does not mean that we should not try to understand what the mainland Chinese think. But all we should do is understand what they think instead of changing ourselves completely to the way they think. Because that would be a retrograde step for us.”

HONG KONG UNIQUE THEN, MORE UNIQUE NOW

An important part of my original task was to gauge Hong Kong elite beliefs in Asian values, which have been used by some Asian leaders to stifle democracy, civil liberties, and free expression. Despite CE Tung Chee-hwa’s efforts to appeal to these Asian values, Hong Kong elites, both conservative and liberal, showed little agreement or enthusiasm for both the general theory behind Asian values and the Singapore model of government on which it is based.

In contrast to Lee Kuan Yew and some other Asian leaders and elites, Hong Kong politicians largely endorsed the importance of civil liberties, freedom of the press, freedom to protest, and the rule of law for Hong Kong. They also articulated a democratic vision for Hong Kong which featured competitive political parties, full universal suffrage and the direct election of all Legco members and the Chief Executive. Most importantly, my interviews showed that there political elites of all stripes do not debate the ultimate goal of full democracy for Hong Kong. The democratic debate in Hong Kong is over pace, not suitability. This important finding meant, and means, that it is unlikely that Hong Kong’s democratization process will stop before full democracy is attained. Hong Kong politicians differ greatly on Hong Kong’s democratization pace, but not that it should be done. In short, Hong Kong values have only been strengthened in the last seventeen years, and those values, despite Beijing’s recalcitrance – maybe because of it – will continue to demand that Hong Kong remain a unique and become more democratic.

Dr. Bob Beatty is a Professor of Political Science at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is the author of , “Democracy, Asian Values, and Hong Kong: Evaluating Political Elite Beliefs”

Photographs by Amila Samapath