ONE COUNTRY: 4 SYSTEMS
1997 saw the end of one of the last remnants of the British empire with the joining of Hong Kong with China. The 50-year rubric under which this was arranged was “One Country, Two Systems.” In fact what emerged was still more complicated, for each system was to see a profound discordance between economics on the one hand and politics on the other – sufficient to provoke a series of furious clashes between demonstrators and police in the streets of Hong Kong.
China under Mao was a Marxist paradise.
His Little Red Book was full of Leninist advice.
Today that’s not the mode of how a Communist behaves
And Mao, Marx and Engels must be spinning in their graves
Equality is not the goal to which you must aspire,
And poverty is not the mode you’re called on to admire.
It’s OK to make a fortune If you know how to invest,
And send your children off to study in a college in the west,
But with respect to free expression, you had better not opine
Any point of view that differs from the governmental line.
Critics on the internet are greeted with a frown,
Then confronted by a censor who completely shuts them down.
In Hong Kong on the other hand there never was a clash
Preventing anybody from accumulating cash.
On the management of capital Beijing cannot compare.
Don’t bother with Das Kapital, the answer isn’t there.
Yet in summing up the ethos of the people of Hong Kong
An economic focus very clearly would be wrong.
For high among the changes that they dearly want to see
Is the right to hold elections quite competitive and free.
Well, indeed they gained elections in which candidates compete.
Unhappily this doesn’t mean democracy’s complete
For the government says voting is a right that we’ll protect
As long as you are choosing from the people we select.
And the people they’ve selected have a tendency to cling
To the policies consistent with the Party in Beijing
Which is not at all inclined to try to follow or concede
Policies that dissidents keep saying that they need.
Massive demonstrations are confronting the police.
Offensive laws are challenged and the protests never cease.
So pundits raise the question as they watch this troubled scene:
Will Chinese troops and tanks be called upon to intervene?
If that should ever happen, there’s not much to discuss
Hong Kong’s population numbers seven million plus.
But 1.4 in billions live in China, if you please,
And backed by mighty armaments they’ve no need to appease.
Yet they’d rather not be playing with a crude and heavy hand.
Hong Kong is very useful when their world-wide trade is planned.
Since their schemes are quite ambitious and their appetite is vast
It doesn’t do to imitate the empires of the past.
So looking forward to the future we need not give up hope.
For democracy in Hong Kong there may well be ample scope.
Yet when I think of Comrade Xi and co. I fear the chance is strong
That my happy future forecast could be absolutely wrong.