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Hong Kong Legislator Opposes China's Proposed Security Law


I want to bring in another voice now - it's Charles Mok, a lawmaker in Hong Kong's legislature. He opposes this new law being considered by Beijing. Thanks so much for joining us.

CHARLES MOK: Thank you. Good morning.

GREENE: So I want to be clear here. A lot of people are saying that autonomy is at stake. But we have heard from China's foreign minister, who is saying that this law would not affect the high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong. So I guess I wonder, do you see a path here? Is there a way to work with Beijing to address some of their security concerns about the protests while Hong Kong retains its autonomy?

MOK: Well, I think, unfortunately, we may have passed that point because we were - if Beijing were to be willing to negotiate and sit down at the table and really understand Hong Kong people's concerns and follow with the right action, they didn't have to wait until now. Unfortunately, I think this is just a sign that Beijing wants total control. And they are seeing that basically they cannot get that kind of feeling of total control over Hong Kong.

So - and not to mention that, actually, because of the fact that we do have our own operating system over here - we do have our own legislature and a relatively independent court at the moment. So they're seeing a lot of these initiatives that they want to see - enhancing their control - being hampered. So I guess that is why they have resort to a loss of patience and basically saying that, we want to implement our own law and supersede it and set it up onto Hong Kong directly from Beijing.

GREENE: Well, you mentioned, I mean, you have courts. I mean, you serve in the legislature. Is there anything you and the government of Hong Kong can do to stop this if this law is passed in Beijing?

MOK: The government, basically, is totally on the side of Beijing because this government is not really elected by the people, only elected by a hand-picked committee by Beijing. So it totally follows the line of the Beijing government. For the legislature, I always keep on explaining to our foreign friends that, you know, for the last 20 to almost 30 years, Hong Kong's general election is dominated by our sides, the pro-democracy, in 55 to 60 - over 60% of the vote in every general election since almost 20, 30 years ago. But we are still in the minority of occupying just around one-third of the seats of the legislature in a very rigged system. So whatever we can do is very limited because of the rigged system.

But on the other hand, the popular opinion is behind us. As you mentioned, in November, we had an election at the district level. And we won 80% of the seats in that election. But despite that, the government isn't listening to the power - isn't listening to the people. And Beijing is actually getting even more concerned because they are losing more and more. And then they resort to this kind of drastic, draconian measure of imposing a law.

GREENE: It's important to remind people - I mean, polls have suggested that a majority of people in Hong Kong still do want to remain part of China with a semi-autonomous government. Isn't that right?

MOK: Yes, yes. That is right. I think we are talking about maintaining one country, two system, but with more democracy. We used to say that Hong Kong is a place where we don't have democracy, but we have a lot of freedoms. But now we seem to be still not getting the democracy but losing the freedoms that we have. I think it is really just a very minority of people that, because of this kind of pressure from China - you're not listening to us for 20 years when we're talking about just having more democracy.

And then they are accusing these people of calling for succession or independence. In fact, some young people may be saying that. But I think it's really a natural reaction because they have been losing patience. And possibly, they are saying some of these things out of frustration. But the vast majority of people in Hong Kong still believe in one country, two system. And we want to maintain it that way.

GREENE: Charles Mok is a legislator in Hong Kong. Thanks so much for joining us.

MOK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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