Li Ao's Press Conference in Hong Kong
The following are translated excerpts related to politics (Hong Kong and Taiwan) in Li Ao's press conference remarks as published at Phoenix TV:
Q: I am from Hong Kong's Apple Daily. You just said that Hong Kong is a different kind of improvement for mainland China. Right now, Hong Kong has a big need too -- should the central government also give democracy to Hong Kong?
Li: Thanks. Listen to my advice to the friends in Hong Kong. I believe that one part of the people in Hong Kong has been influenced by the incorrect tendencies in Taiwan, like an infection. Some people in Hong Kong are interested in political opposition, or else they are beginning to get exaggerated ideas. This is the Taiwan style of democracy. I must say that people of Hong Kong should be smart enough to go beyond this stage.
When we looked at the relationship between the Hong Kong people and the British Empire, the British had given the people of Hong Kong enough freedom. We can assume that, but it did not include democracy. If the British really wanted to give the people of Hong Kong its own legislature, why didn't they do so earlier? Why did they do things right before the 1997 deadline? One thing was to create the problem of democracy for the Hong Kong legislature, and the other thing was that the British spent away Hong Kong's treasury. Why did the British do that? What did they have to clear out the place and create problems for Beijing? Therefore, I want to say if the people of Hong Kong really wanted democracy, then why didn't they begin true democracy when the British were ruling us?
Therefore, I say that the people of Hong Kong are mistaken about real democracy. I am not saying the democracy is bad for Hong Kong. But for the smart people of Hong Kong, this is too abstract. They don't need this. When our Hong Kong becomes big and strong and becomes a point of reference for all of China and we can lead in many things, then democracy will come by itself. We won't need to fight for it. Therefore, I think the people of Hong Kong ought to continue with the smartness and be a little more nonchalant about politics. That would be the smart Hong Kong person.
Q: I am a reporter from the Southern Metropolis Daily. You must mentioned that Hong Kong is a more progressive place than some places on mainland China. Right now, Shenzhen and the rest of the Pearl River Delta are also looking for greater progress and moving along right with Hong Kong. How do you think that the two places will move together under One Country, Two Systems?
Li: I am speaking of my essay twenty years ago published in Hong Kong: "The Opportunity for Hong Kong, the Opportunity for China." The theme of my essay can be a beacon for Hong Kong. Using Hong Kong as the point, it will influence Guangdong province, then south of China, then central China, northern China, the northeast and the northwest. We can skillfully leverage our wealth and choose our freedom to a certain extent. The Hong Kong people are smart. This has been my consistent position.
But I must say that after the 1997 handover, the vitality of the Hong Kong people has been reduced gradually. I just talked about the reason of the weakening and that is because one part of the Hong Kong people feel that we need to fight for our political rights. I don't think any time should be spent on this kind of fight. As I said, when Hong Kong continues to become the reference point and when Hong Kong will always be better than Guangdong and Tianjin, then Hong Kong will have all its right. Or else, when Hong Kong begins to weaken, it would not be good for Hong Kong. Let me tell everybody. If Hong Kong continues to weaken, it won't even have its position and leeway right now. I need to remind everybody.
Q: I am a Xinhua reporter ... Today, you are meeting with the media. This morning, the State Council announced that the stay for reporters from Taiwan has been extended to three months. Did you think about whether you can use your influence when you return to Taiwan to make the Taiwan authorities renew the presence of Xinhua and People's Daily reporters in Taiwan after a six month discontinuation already?
Li: Let me tell you, I think that the whole thing is good and I don't feel anything wrong. That is my overall feeling. I say the same things in Hong Kong as in Beijing and Shanghai. But I have to tell you that we are in a different situation. The issue of news reporters is a typical example. In Taiwan, they speak of democracy, they are free, they are democratic and they will use their free democracy to overcome the so-called China, which is actually mainland China. I ask, on the matter of news reporters not being allowed, mainland reporters in Taiwan and Taiwan reporters on mainland get different treatments, and this shows how the free Taiwan loses.
Phoenix TV is a typical example. Phoenix TV can be seen everywhere around the world, including to a certain extent inside China. But it is totally not allowed in Taiwan. If you are a free and democratic "nation," can you do that? Therefore, I say that it is a misperception to treat Taiwan like a free and democratic place, and Taiwan misleads itself this way. Let me tell you. Hong Kong is much more free and democratic than Taiwan. Why is that? Hong Kong at least kept the legal system left behind by the British. Taiwan is a lawless society. If freedom does not come with a legal system, then all that freedom and democracy are fake. Today, I want everyone to break through this piece of superstitution. You should not think that Taiwan is a free and democratic place. Taiwan is a chaotic place.
Q: I am from Radio Free Asia. I just heard your praise for Hong Kong and criticism of Taiwan. Many people in Taiwan feel that Hong Kong under One Country Two Systems has been continuously subjected to restrictions with respect to democracy and freedom, and that is why they feel that One Country Two Systems has no market in Taiwan. I know that you have always talked about One Country Two Systems, so I wonder about how you feel? You also said that Taiwan ought to make good use of the Communists. I wonder how Hong Kong can also make good use of the Communists?
Li: I must tell you. Since I have lived in Taiwan continuously for 56 years, I know all those friends in the DPP government very well. Everybody knows that when I started the magazine to oppose the Kuomintang, my publisher was none other than Chen Shui-bian. Therefore, they can be said to be my students.
Today, I can tell everyone that we have been fooled. Taiwan opposes "One Country Two Systems." But since it is "One Country Two Systems" right now already, what is there to oppose? They are opposed to "One Country." But Taiwan cannot speak out on this "One Country" thing.
Why? When I became a "national legislator" in Taiwan, I asked Taiwan so-called Premier Frank Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, who is an old friend. We went hand in hand to Yangmingshan. I asked, "Chang-ting ..." I could call that that instead of Premier. I said, Are we the Republic of China? He said yes. I said, Are we China? He was stumped and he said, "You give me a minute to explain." I said, "I am not going to give you a minute. YES or NO?" He did not dare speak. I told him, "If we are not China and we are not Taiwan, then how come?"
In the Communiqué between the United States and the People's Republic of China, the statement was that Taiwan is acknowledged to be a part of China by the people on both sides of the straits. If you say that the other side is China, then you are no longer China and therefore you are no longer Taiwan either. Up until today, the friends in the Democratic Progressive Party and those so-called Taiwan independence elements have never addressed this point. Perhaps they don't want to speak up due to political reasons. Therefore I don't think that this is an important issue.
As for Hong Kong, we must admit that the people of Hong Kong are facing One County Two Systems and ought to think about it. What is so bad about it? At least insofar as freedom of speech goes, my understanding -- and I know that you know -- based upon my research is that there is no suppression. Some people are causing problems. Some lousy magazines in Hong Kong take American CIA money and they complain. Or else they take Taiwan money and they complain. They cry about suppression. Is there any suppression? If there is suppression, they wouldn't have lasted until now. Therefore, we must ask just what Hong Kong encountered under One Country Two Systems?
You think about it. What can you blame Beijing for? After the 1997 handover, the western imperialists were up to their tricks. What tricks? It used to be murder and plundering. I kill your people and I plunder your riches. But the modern imperialists do not use those old tricks. They have new tricks. I am not going to kill your people, I don't take over your land and I don't steal your stuff. I only want to steal your money.
When Hong Kong came under relentless attack, you should not forget that it was Beijing which really saved Hong Kong. Beijing put up the money so that Hong Kong was not destroyed. Or else, both the stock markets and the currency market would have been destroyed. I offer this example to tell everyone that when Hong Kong faces this kind of pressure, it may sometimes be unable to withstand it.
For example, when I became a so-called "legislator" in Taiwan, I questioned the "National Security Bureau" chief. After the anti-secessionist law was passed in Beijing, I asked him, "Have you thought about what advantages the 'anti-secessionist law' has for Taiwan. Did you think about that from the opposite side? Or did you think about all sides? He said, "Legislator Li, what advantage can it have?" I said, "Don't you see? Beijing tells us, "If you don't go Taiwan-independence, then I don't strike you." This statement not only restricts us, but it also restricts them and gives me reassurance. As long as we don't go Taiwan-independence, they won't strike us."
Therefore people tend to forget that the Communists and the Beijing government also have their good sides and they can become good. This time, we saw how they treated the 60 -- one of them did not go -- 59 legislators from Hong Kong. It dares to accept your challenge. About one-third of the democratic legislators are actually against it, they fight it, they criticize it. Right or not? But it can accept that and ask you people to go over and talk. The Communists are getting back.
Therefore, we say that the smart Hong Kong people, the smart Taiwan people and the smart Chinese people should use smart methods to cooperate with the Communists. We can ask it for the things that we want. We don't have to be polite. In terms of technique, we can persuade it, we can pressure it, we can coax it and we can deceive it to get what we want. When we seek love from women, don't we do that? When women fool men, do they do that? We can relax a bit. Thanks!
There is one phrase in the above that is 'strong' language (specifically, it is the f-word; for a detailed explanation of the phrase, see this previous post). How did the various newspapers handled it? If the phrase is printed verbatim, the newspaper may be considered "for mature audience only" and therefore must be shrink-wrapped with warnings. Here is how they did it.
(SCMP) "Knowing full well that one-third of legislators are democrats who oppose it, want to topple it, abuse it and want to f*** it up, the Communist Party still accepts them and invites them."
(Sing Pao) 民主派明明就是反它，幹它，罵它，是×你老母的... (Translation: The democrats are obviously opposing it, want to fight with it, scold it, it's "X you mother.")
(Ming Pao via Yahoo! News) 幾乎三分之一的民主派議員是反對她的，是幹她的，是╳你老母的... (Translation: The democratic legislators, who are almost one-third overall, are opposed to her, they want to fight her, it's "X your mother.")
(Apple Daily) 民 主 派 議 員 是 反 對 她 的 、 是 幹 她 的 、 是 罵 她 的 、 是 × 你 老 母 的 （ 用 不 純 正 的 廣 東 話 講 ） (Translation: The democratic legislators are opposed to her, they fight with her, they scold her, it's 'X your mother' (spoken in imperfect Cantonese))
(Oriental Daily via Yahoo! News) 中央明知部分議員會搞事、反抗、講穢話 ... (Translation: The central government obviously knows that some of the legislators cause trouble, oppose, say dirty words, ...)
So the final score is one "f***", four "X your mother," one "dirty words" and one omission (Phoenix TV).