Tenth Anniversary Manifesto

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Founded for Hong Kong: Local, autonomous, and pluralistic
The Civic Party Tenth Anniversary Manifesto

With its unique geographical, historical, political and cultural background, Hong Kong has always occupied a special place on the world map. Today, as always, the people of Hong Kong appreciate the distinctive location of the city they call home, the global metropolis that connects with the mainland to its north and reaches out fully and freely to the ever-changing world.

 

Home on Unique Local Ground: Identity Taking Root

The Civic Party was founded in 2006 in and for Hong Kong. Embodying a dynamic global vision and a set of core values which link up in multiple ways to the international community, Hong Kong is an unrivalled local experience and, indeed, a most precious asset in the development of Chinese modernity. It has been our belief that, following the extraordinary historical transition and unprecedented political design we faced in 1997, “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong” would eventually come true. We had thought that the uniqueness of Hong Kong would not be affected under “One Country, Two Systems”, which promises to bring about a new political structure that ensures a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong after the end of colonial rule.

Nineteen years after the hand-over the Central Government’s policies have increasingly prioritized One Country and slighted Two Systems, with lasting consequences. They have resulted in the growing tendency and sentiment among the Hong Kong people to defend their local cultures and institutions. Identity has long taken root in this home-city of ours, but Hong Kong people now feel the strong urge to make their voice clearly heard -- that they would not allow their identity to fade away in history. For in recent years, the invincible hand of the Chinese authorities kept penetrating into various layers of our established rules and institutions. This erodes the original foundation of Hong Kong society, threatens the core values embedded in our local way of life, and corrupts the integrity of the unique system we have set up here, as differentiated from the mainland system adopted in all other Chinese cities.

Without a doubt, everyone in Hong Kong can see that “One Country, Two Systems” has begun to go out of shape. People witness on the ground how the local way of life with its embedded core values is being deprived of its original distinctiveness. While the essence of our local cultures and institutions is thinning down, we have all the more reasons to stand up for the Hong Kong spirit which The Civic Party valued so highly when we first came together to articulate our collective will and project to fight for Hong Kong’s democracy. Today, as we face the precarious future of this place we call home, we are left with no choice but to stand firmly by our fellow citizens in their struggle to re-think the possibilities of this city. For our common future, we shall join hands together, unrelentingly, to explore and re-define the positioning of Hong Kong in light of the next decades ahead of us. By committing to that cause, The Civic Party is determined to safeguard the interests, values and well-being of this community of which we are truly proud to be an integral part.

 

The Autonomous Hong Kong Spirit: People Confronting Adversity

The unparalleled convergence of the Hong Kong system, values and identities has taken place under very specific historical and cultural contexts. Traces of various foreign cultures and civilizations have mixed and merged in this unique locality. Despite its tiny size, the place that is now the site of a global metropolis has over the last century facilitated countless cultural exchanges and promoted multifaceted interactions on the local soil. What Hong Kong has become and stands for today continues to be treasured by its people, who are experts in accommodating a wide range of nuances and contingencies in the culture they make. And throughout history, they have found themselves in subtle, unceasing, but fruitful dialogues with the tradition and modernity of the Chinese heritage. Traversing diversified terrains, Hong Kong culture is thus known for its capacity to tolerate and respect differences. The result is the distinctive way of life we lead, which sets us clearly on a separate path when compared to those inhabiting a mainland city.

Whereas the people's demand for autonomous political representation had been suppressed under the former colonial rule, an independent judiciary system is put firmly in place for them, as is the institution by which the separation of powers works in Hong Kong. Thus, the rule of law has taken root in the local soil. The foundation is laid solidly for a free and liberal social environment to set in, which unleashes the energy and creativity in the city’s potential. Furthermore, our anti-corruption system, our widespread culture of moral integrity, as well as the local spirit of perseverance, are widely recognized for their high international standard. Local distinction also marks the way Hong Kong culture preserves and revitalizes Chinese heritage. The complex characters adopted in our written Chinese and our daily use of Cantonese as a living language are two exemplary cases demonstrating how heritage and identity have combined to constitute a core part of the city’s culture and its way of life.

Epitomised by the reputable Lion Rock Spirit, the autonomous will and tireless vitality of the Hong Kong people have shaped up in history as generation after generation of them make the best out of the hardship and challenges of life they face. In making their livelihoods, the people know that they must confront adversity and strive for the best with vigor.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, however, the people of Hong Kong could not take part in the process that determined the arrangements of 1997. As the future of the home-city they live in and care for had never been held in their own hands, the opportunities were not there for them to exert their subjectivity. The Basic Law’s promise for an autonomous political system has been betrayed by Beijing’s manipulation to re-interpret some of its articles. This means that our quest for democracy has not been fulfilled. And in that denial, the dignity, confidence and trust of the Hong Kong people are damaged.

Today, as we face the ongoing attack on our system, we stand firm in upholding the autonomous spirit of the Hong Kong people, who must determine the way of Hong Kong’s future. The Civic Party will stand by the people and make sure that they will be present in the critical process that decides what Hong Kong will be after 2047. In defense of our honour and our rights, and in the struggle to safeguard the Hong Kong people's choice, we shall join force with the civil society to fight for the best of our community, through efforts both inside and outside of the legislative council. When necessary, we shall act in civil disobedience to combat the corruption of our system. We are determined as ever to protect the interests of our home-city, to work for the general well-being of the Hong Kong population, and to promote the subjectivity of its citizens.

 

Pluralism: An Unfailing Source of Hong Kong Citizenship

There is little doubt what we have built to date as a part of Hong Kong's system and way of life is the outcome of our continuous open-door policy and a persistent attitude among the citizens to encourage diversity and pluralism in this society. Apart from a minority of indigenous people, most residents of Hong Kong are ethnic Chinese who have migrated, or whose fore-fathers and fore-mothers had come to the territory from the mainland for all kinds of reason. Indeed, Hong Kong has always been the migrants’ haven and a homeland for those seeking one. We have always adopted a flexible and lenient approach in treating those who come here to work, to study, to travel or to stay merely for a tentative period of time. We have always recognized somebody as one of us, Hong Kong people, who, despite the person’s origin, colour or ethnicity, would value the identity of being one of us, a part of Hong Kong, and be ready to share the core values and abide by the system and rules found here. We are very certain that this remains the stance of the majority of the city's population today.

Hence, this city is "my city" for each and every one who has made it one's home, now as always. In future, we shall continue to make Hong Kong our home-city grounded on its open, dynamic, and pluralistic way of life. Our mode of making a livelihood is local, eclectic, and most accommodating. Any new inhabitant who becomes a resident through the legal means, who shares our core values, accepts our culture, becomes an integral part of the society we build together, and is ready to contribute to its general well-being, would be received as a fellow Hong Konger. With this perspective, we must ensure that Hong Kong is autonomous in making its own immigration and population policies. Specifically, we must formulate our own policies in granting the one-way entry permits for mainland immigrants, and take full control over the issuing of visas for visitors.

Despite the limited extent of the place, in Hong Kong our vision of society accommodates for its population a vivid and dynamic lifestyle. The means of support we keep for making livelihoods are never confined to the isolated spots one dwells in. For the full scope of our city's way of life allows all of us to embrace diversity and respect difference. With flexible life-skills and hybrid resources one often draws productively on what the immediate social environment might provide: As Hong Kongers we are used to making do with what we can get and what we must face. We like to make friends, not enemies, with whom we would sooner or later find ourselves competing actively over a common target or interest, or collaborating creatively for some common good. Together we stand, and collectively we build the unique Hong Kong spirit now known even in faraway places, places from which we continue to attract visitors, invite competitions, and bring in human as well as cultural resources. Hence, the Hong Kong method has never been one that shuts doors to external input or tolerates the discrimination against those whose cultural orientation or personal preference digresses from the average. For the faces of local culture are multiple and diversified, and top-down approaches to apply a definitive pattern on the collective way of life do not work here. In short, we must free ourselves of prejudices and straitjackets, and continue to adopt an open-minded approach to enriching the contents of the local. Proactively we should face the generational changes; collectively we must take destiny into our own hands; and together we shall make our own way toward the future as a community. For we must change, and transform ourselves in light of the changing times. On the level playing field we would allow differences to go to their respective ends, and channel all productive energies to the betterment of our society, on which the city's future must be built.

This city is our city. In the face of social and livelihood issues, people are frustrated by policies that do not appear to connect to their concerns, nor address their real and urgent needs. Politically, the pressure has escalated to such a high level that many dread what to expect in the immediate years ahead, and deem it necessary to consider alternative ways to handle the deadlock at hand. In spite of all these, we do hold firmly the view that in another ten years, pluralism will remain the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s distinctiveness both as an identity and as the city’s most visible local feature.

History shows that in the course of this city’s trajectory in becoming the international metropolis based in east Asia, we have nurtured in the social fabric of our system a local consciousness, an array of civic values, and a whole set of institutional rules and processes that distinguish this city from any of its counterparts in the mainland. More readily articulated to the global community, our city's culture has forged the shape of our subjectivity, and made this local community, along with its distinctive way of life, a world model of an open and free Chinese society.