Pro-Beijing Camp Wants HK Water Supply Cut Off

Via Asia Times, a report on the threat of water politics during Hong Kong’s current crisis:

A pro-Beijing lawmaker and an academic have called for the central government in Beijing to implement national law and to cut the water supply to Hong Kong in order to stop the “violent protests” in the city.

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, said on Tuesday that he hoped the central government could declare Hong Kong is in a state of emergency and issue an order applying the relevant national laws to the region.

He said according to Article 18 of the Basic Law, the central government can implement some national laws, such as national security and anti-terrorism laws, in Hong Kong in order to extradite arrested protesters to China.

Ho added that such a move did not mean that the “one country two systems” would end, but in fact strengthen Hong Kong.

Ho’s suggestion was made on the same day that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the Hong Kong government would consider all legal tools, including the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, to stop “riots” in the city. The ordinance can confer on the Chief Executive in the Executive Council the power to make regulations during an emergency or when there was a danger to the public.

However, the central government had confidence that the Hong Kong police could contain the situation, but that does not mean Beijing would not take action, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said in a closed-door forum with about 500 pro-establishment lawmakers and Hong Kong delegates of the National People’s Congress at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on August 7.

If Hong Kong faces a chaotic situation, People’s Liberation Army troops would be sent to Hong Kong, he said. However, he added that now was not a suitable time.

Zhang’s message was passed to the Hong Kong media by some Pro-Beijing heavyweights such as Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the Basic Law Committee, and Elsie Leung Oi-sie, former Secretary for Justice of Hong Kong.

After Kong Kong’s airport was occupied by protesters between August 9 and 13, people expected Hong Kong authorities to respond to the five demands they had made – the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the withdrawal of “riot” charges laid against people who took part in protests on June 12, the establishment of an independent probe into events during the three months of protests and the release of all arrested protesters and the implementation of universal suffrage.

However, Lam declined to address the demands and only set up a communication platform, which contains mainly pro-establishment members. Clashes between the police and protesters escalated again on August 24 and 25. On August 27, the G7 leaders said in a declaration that they reaffirm the existence and importance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 on Hong Kong and called for violence to be avoided.

On August 19, Zheng Yongnian, a pro-Beijing professor and director of the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore, told the People’s Daily in an interview that he expects the protests in Hong Kong to die down eventually as Hong Kong people don’t want to sacrifice their “benefits” from China.

“A friend of mine is a former official in Singapore. He said stopping the water supply to Hong Kong can solve the problem. He said Singapore people are sensitive about the water supply from Malaysia,” Zheng said, adding that Hong Kong people’s reliance on the water supply from the mainland was one of the examples showing that Hong Kong cannot be separated from China.

Hong Kong people went online and said China should pay money back to Hong Kong if it stopped the water supply to the city. In 2019, Hong Kong paid China a total of HK$4.8 billion (US$611.8 million), or HK$5.9 per cubic meter, to secure its water supply.

At present, 70% of the water supply in Hong Kong comes from China, while about 60% of the water supply in Singapore comes from Malaysia. The suggestion of cutting the water supply to Hong Kong became controversial and some Chinese people went online and said it would be an inhuman move.

On Wednesday, the Global Times said in its editorial titled “The truth about Hong Kong’s autonomy” that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy must be maintained in order to protect China’s interest.

It said the “one country, one system” approach was completely unrealistic as the Chinese mainland does not have direct political and legal resources to govern Hong Kong. The editorial did not directly comment on Beijing’s stance about a possible declaration of “a state of emergency” in Hong Kong.

Antonio Ma Tit-wing, a political and economic commentator, told NowTV that the Global Times’ editorial showed Beijing wants to calm the situation in Hong Kong. Ma said Beijing was worried that any change in Hong Kong’s status as an international hub would hurt China’s own interests.

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