Recently two former Beijing officials who previously handled Hong Kong and Beijing relations warned against the spread of pro-Hong Kong independence forces in Hong Kong. The comments were made after Beijing government's failed attempt to push through the national education curriculum and the appearance of the British colonial flag of Hong Kong in several protests to defend the city's autonomy.
To love China or leave
In a letter on 12 October 2012 to the South China Morning Post, Lu Ping, the former director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Office claimed that:
These guys who advocate for Hong Kong independence are sheer moron. Deprived of support from the mainland, Hong Kong would be a dead city. Do they know where the water they are daily drinking comes from?
He went further in an exchange of email:
Those who do not recognize they are Chinese should look at what is written on their passports or they should renounce their Chinese nationality. …Our country, which has a population of 1.3 billion, would not be bothered losing this handful of people.
In other words, Love China or Leave. Lu Ping's former deputy, Chen Zuoer, resonated with his comment and said separatism has been spreading like a virus in Hong Kong.
The officials’ blunt comment, in particular the implication that Beijing could shut down water supply and turn Hong Kong into a dead city, has outraged the locals. Financial news commentator, Yau Yickseng, pointed out [zh] that China has been taking advantage of Hong Kong's water contract – a 30-year water supply agreement that is 6 times more expensive when compared with local arrangements in order to help a big state-owned company, GITIC, restructure its debt during the Asian financial crisis back in 1998:
How did GITIC manage to restructure its debt?… The Dongjiang water supply project was injected into GITIC's core business in such context as to persuade the loan creditor to accept the debt restructuring proposal. The 30-year water supply agreement signed between Hong Kong government and GITIC was up to USD2.2 billions, that's why the loan creditor accepted the proposal.
… This year the money spent on Dongjiang water in Hong Kong is HKD4.32 per cubic meter, many times more than when compared with the water supply cost in Dongguan (HKD0.5) and in Shenzhen (HKD0.96).
To create a straw man for cracking down on local social movement
The House News, a new citizen news portal in Hong Kong, ran an editorial [zh] explaining why the former Beijing officials wanted to pinpoint the so-called independence movement in Hong Kong:
1. To intimidate local social movement: In the last July 1 rally, there were around 400 thousand people who took to the street against C.Y Leung (the current city major). On July 29, there were around 70 thousand people who rallied against the implementation of national education. In early September, around 120 people surrounded the government headquarters [against national education]. Social movement has become a popular resistance force. To connect social movement with Hong Kong independence movement, will set a barrier between the middle class and the social movement as the mainstream never believes in Hong Kong independence.
2. To create a context for the legislation of Basic Law article 23 [anti-state sedition law]: to say that there is a spread of Hong Kong Independence movement and that the government has to guard against such force. What does it imply? To prohibit separatist behaviour in order to push through the article 23 legislation. Once they have succeeded in turning the autonomous movement and colonial flag into a “straw man” [enemy] and the illusion that the independence movement is spreading like a virus, it sets the green light for the anti-state sedition legislation.
3. To suppress the referendum movement for political reform: the last referendum movement has been labelled as an independence movement. Concerning the arrangement of 2016 legislative council and 2017 chief executive elections, it is likely that there will be another referendum movement and the scale will be much bigger. They are taking precautions.
inmediahk.net also ran an editorial [zh] commenting on the pro-independence “straw man”:
Both the Hong Kong and Macau Office and Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong has been using the terms “De-China movement” to describe the local social movement and “Hong Kong Independence movement” to label the conflict between Hong Kong and China. The “Straw Man” is really an easy target. Some friends have already pointed out that the giant monster of “Hong Kong Independence” has been manufactured for justifying the “stability maintenance cost” in Hong Kong, including the militant system “Love Hong Kong” organization, as well as to look for a scapegoat for the chaotic situation and social division that they have brought to Hong Kong, to avoid the Central government from pinpointing their wrong doings.
Mainland Chinese netizens: Can Lu Ping disclose his family members’ nationality?
Not only Hong Kong people feel intimidated by Lu's comment, mainland Chinese netizens are also questioning Lu's moral ground as his daughter has been migrated to the U.S.A, while his son is now the advisor of Hong Kong Airport Authority. In a news thread in Kdnet forum [zh]:
@rubykwan: 原來魯某身體力行, 令其兩女不要做中國人! 要大家向其家人學習!
此人入洋教, 家人都入洋籍, 正一”口中說不, 身體卻老實”的模範, 也很合符強國人人格.
@rubykwan: Lu is practicing what he preached. His daughters are no longer Chinese nationals and he wants others to follow his path. He believes in western religion, his family members are westerners. He did not disclose that but he is a typical example of a certain character of this strong country.
@KD阿郎: Lu Ping, can you disclose your wife, your son, your daughter and grand daughters’ nationalities? Are they green card carriers? Do you dare to disclose your financial details?
@知足常樂: They occupy your home and now want to kick you out.
＠你可真逗: typical character of thugs. They don't reflect upon their doings and now want to take away our brothers’ and sisters’ Chinese nationality.
＠龔南遺孤：Such a stupid ass. You want to make Hong Kong people hate the central government more? How dare you intend to kick Hong Kong people away like this? The country is composed of people, not politicians.
＠雲里月: Now they want to turn Hong Kong people into traitors. When China was so poor, to the extent that people did not even have a pair of trousers to wear, we begged them to return and invest. If Hong Kong people did not return, pigs like Lu would be brushing teeth with tree sticks.
@dakache: Those who do not recognize they are Chinese should renounce their Chinese nationality.
[sentence remixed]: 1. those who don't want to consume ditch oil should give up eating.
2. those who don't want to breath in polluted air should give up breathing.
3. those who don't accept one child policy should give up reproduction.