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Notes on the constitutional future of Hong Kong

October 2, 2015

1) Many of the problems that Hong Kong has are the result of a basic
flaw in the constitution of the city.  The Basic Law and the
Sino-British Joint Declaration were set up specifically to prevent any
sort of fundamental change for 50 years.  This is why technology
companies find it frustrating.  It seems that the entire system exists
to perserve the status quo, and that’s because it is.

2) The focus on HK constitutional law at focusing on international
standards also prevents change and development.  What if you are just
better?  What if everyone else is just wrong?  The focus on the ICCPR
and ICESR results on comparing rights with other places, and this is a
problem if you have higher standards.  You can point out that HK has
better press freedom than Singapore, Pakistan or Vietnam, but unless
everyone is in violation of ICCPR, this doesn’t help you.  The legal
argument you really want to use is how things work in Singapore,
Pakistan or Vietnam (or for that matter Shenzhen) is *irrelevant* for
how things work in Hong Kong and you can’t make that argument if you
focus on international standards.

3) Political freedom and economic freedom are fundamentally connected.
Hungry men cannot be free.  Even at a higher level, the new
limitations on political freedom in modern societies come less from
violate explicit censorship than through indirect economic control.
To preserve political freedom, Hong Kong must continue to foster the
freedom to start your own business and the freedom to run your own
business, because in running your own business, you are less subject
to corporate influences, and more able to say what you think.  Having
people own their own businesses and be able to make a living through
independent means allows people to say what they think and express
what they really feel.

4) The area in which Hong Kong can lead is to promote economic
freedom.  The right to free enterprise is as important as freedom of
speech and freedom of the press, because without the right to free
enterprise, freedom or speech and freedom of the press are
meaningless.

5) Hong Kong should lead by example and not seek to impose its system
on other places.  If Shanghai and Singapore are happy with how things
are there, then fine.  If they want to copy us, fine.  If we want to
copy them fine.  The trouble with the use of global international
standards in human rights is it makes it impossible to experiment with
new ideas in one place without trying to impose them everywhere.

6) All societies must be based on a fundamental idea which is shared
by all members.  Hong Kong is unique in that the basic idea of Hong
Kong is not a nationalism or a religion but an economic system with
political ramifications.  Instead of trying to maintain the status
quo in all areas which will lead to disaster, the goal should be to
focus on the fundamental ideas and ideals of Hong Kong and creatively
use them to generate innovative ideas which can lead China and the
world.

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