Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Sneak Peek Chapter 12: "Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems': Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong SAR (June 2019 – June 2020): Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe):"Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)] "



For the last several months I have been sharing sneak peeks of a book to be published in early 2021: Hong Kong Between 'One Country' and 'Two Systems':  Essays from the Year that Transformed the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (June 2019 – June 2020)  (Little Sir Press).  The essays are presented in the form of a diary that marks an intellectual progression that matches the march of events. Each was written as events unfolded (each essay is dated to the time of its initial writing) and lightly edited for the book.  The object is to capture not just the strategic and normative developments that produced the new order for Hong Kong in June 2020, but also to give a sense of the uncertainties and anticipations as the events themselves unfolded during the course of the year.  The process of ideological genesis over the course of the year  is best captured from a state of anticipation without the benefit of foresight. The essays , then, do not look back on events after the fact, but speculate, discover, and captures moments that from June 2020 look inevitable but which from the perspective of June 2019 appeared far less so. 
In an effort to avoid the prohibitive cost of hard copies, the book will be made available first as an EPub (iBook, Kindle, Amazon) (ISBN: 978-1-949943-03-0 (ebk). My thanks to the Coalition for Peace & Ethics for making this possible. I have previously shared an early drafts of the preface (here), and chapters 2 (here; June 2019) and 9 (here; August 2019).   
Here I wanted to share a draft of Chapter 12 ("Monday 19 August-- " Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe): "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日).".

As we get closer to publication summaries of each of the 29 essays will be posted along with the table of contents.

Chapter 12


Monday 19 August 2019

Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe):"Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)]



Compliance and cooperation, resistance and opposition call for suitable strategies  of adjustment and reconciliation. Evolutions and conjunctures, cycles and junctures have their own forms and tendencies. Reverses and turnarounds respond to one another and regulate themselves.[1]


The connection between apparently autonomous but likely inter-connected threads of action by Chinese officials around the situation in Hong Kong has long been in the making.  Yet it is only after the start of the protests of 9 June 2019, and thereafter of its intensifying passions, that that some of these threads have become more clearly visible, and their interconnections harder to resist.  At the same time, the situation in Hang Kong also reveals what appears to be the strong connection, again, between the actions of officials and the ancient patterns of strategic impulses nicely examined in Guiguzi.


Earlier chapters have considered the value of Guiguzi  in interpreting the strategic choices of officials around the issue of Hong Kong.[2]  A recent Opinion of the Chinese Central Committee[3] reveals, however, that these strategic choices appear t long predate the 2019 protests and even the 2014 Umbrella Movement, but that they might well have been set in motion around the time of the reversion of Hong Kong itself to China. What this chapter suggests is the importance of the rhetorical strategies of Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe)[4] in the long arc of central authority strategies for the re-incorporation of Hong Kong into the heart of the nation. Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe) strategies are most apparent generally in Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening Up strategies, and much more specifically illustrated in the ceding of autonomy for Hong Kong even as the central authorities began planning for the enveloping of that autonomy within a much greater integrated regional metropolis--one with Shenzhen at the center. One reconciled Hong Kong’s autonomy even as one resists its pull out of the Chinese orbit, and one waits. Hardly noticed because of its pace, the protests in Hong Kong now appear to have made the movement more transparent and perhaps accelerated its progress. 


This strategy, to some extent, is also at the heart of One Country-Two Systems: to resist one must reconcile. Yet in this context, in the context of the generation long process of the enveloping of Hong Kong within China through the slow application of the Resist-Reconcile strategy embedded within the One Country-Two Systems principle that encounters the value of its ming-ming (明名intelligent naming) form.[5] One Country-Two Systems rationalizes the oppositions of Hong Kong and the rest of the nation; it acknowledges resistance within Hong Kong even as it builds around it a pattern of reconciliation, from out of two systems, one country.  That strategy is best realized on the ground--not through the deployment of rhetorical forms, but rather through the construction of One Country around two systems, enveloping and then digesting  the two systems within one country. To these ends, Shenzhen, and the greater Pearl River Basin area is essential.[6]


Shenzhen, in its contemporary form, was born, in part, to demonstrate that a sound Socialist (that is a Chinese Marxist-Leninist) version of Hong Kong was not only possible, but ultimately the better model for both cities.[7]  Yet it was much more than that.  Shenzhen was also designed to be the modern, built from the ground up, foundation, around which a "Pearl River" megacity could be built, into which the former UK and Portuguese colonies could be absorbed (in every sense of that term) along with their neighboring older cities (once known for their unruliness).[8]


That mega-city could serve as the incarnation of the China Dream (中国梦)[9] and suggest the ways in which the historically receding basis for social, political and economic organization (reflected in Hong Kong) could be recast and redirected for the new era.[10]  That recasting, then, might also serve as a model which might find value all along the land and maritime Silk Roads of the Belt and Road Initiative.[11]  Read at its broadest, the movement toward the consolidation of spaces through ties of economics, politics, culture, or any combination of these, might be transposable to those contexts where the consolidated spaces that are separated by (great) distances.


To some extent, the central authorities, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, has been successful in achieving its first goal.  Shenzhen is now an industrial powerhouse with a large and growing population sitting just beyond the old colonial border with Hong Kong. Yet the success has been molded as well by distributive realities--finance has been shifted to Shanghai in some respects--another variation of the absorption and transformation of a semi-colonial enclave in China, whose successful model, it might be hoped, could be projected outward. 


But the ongoing situation in Hong Kong has, to some extent changed the character and pacing of these medium and longer term plans.  The disturbances in Hong Kong have been treated by Chinese government and CCP authorities as directly challenging not so much their authority, but rather the authority of their guiding ideology. That is a challenge that cannot be ignored, even if Hong Kong is allowed to tolerate popular demonstrations over a longer term. Though much of those changes remain shrouded in secrecy, the State Council under the leadership of the CCP has, from time to time, suggested its content and direction.


In the response of officials, however, one can see the strategic rationalization embedded in the Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe) strategy. One develops reconciliation that carries with it the possibility of resistance, and one resists to reconcile.  Hong Kong represents both the realities of reconciliation in the 1990s, built on a foundation that permits resistance to the form of initial reconciliation, provides the space for movement within it to resist, break and then forge new patterns of (now national) reconciliation.


Outwardly, the central authorities have sought to cauterize the ideological threat by recasting it as foreign. To that end the central authorities have expended much effort in their Black Hand campaign.[12]  There the strategy applied was one of was Assessing (Quan ).  Beyond its utility in the ongoing trade negotiations with the United States and the protection of its Belt and Road Initiative (both understandable),  recasting the Hong Kong narrative as foreign proves useful as discrediting it as contextually irrelevant, and its leaders as tools of a foreign power.  This plays into now ancient and powerful Chinese discursive tropes about foreigners, unequal relationships, and threat. 


Assessing (Quan ) strategies, however, are a means, and not an ends.  It is not enough to recast the narrative in Hong Kong as foreign (and therefore not authentically Chinese) (resist wu).  It is also necessary to substantially strengthen and put forward the preferred (and native) alternative (reconcile he). It is here that the Shenzhen model city ideal, and the historical imperative of the Pearl River mega-city, become important.  Now the State Council and CCP Central Committee have put forward a counter-narrative that seeks to contrast the instability and decline of Hong Kong with the stability and progress of Shenzhen.  To that end on 18 August 2019, via Xinhua News Agency, the authorities circulated  "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)] (the “Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen).[13] It's strategic utility at this moment and in that place is unmistakable:


At present, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, supporting Shenzhen to hold high the banner of reform and opening up in the new era and building a demonstration zone for socialism with Chinese characteristics, which is conducive to promoting reform and opening up at a higher starting point, higher level, and higher goals, and forming a comprehensive deepening of Reform and comprehensively expand the new opening pattern; help to better implement the strategy of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Dawan District, enrich the new practice of "one country, two systems"; help to take the lead in exploring the new path of building a socialist modernization and strengthening the country, and provide strong support for the realization of the great rejuvenation of the China Dream.  当前,中国特色社会主义进入新时代,支持深圳高举新时代改革开放旗帜、建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区,有利于在更高起点、更高层次、更高目标上推进改革开放,形成全面深化改革、全面扩大开放新格局;有利于更好实施粤港澳大湾区战略,丰富一国两制事业发展新实践;有利于率先探索全面建设社会主义现代化强国新路径,为实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦提供有力支撑。[14]


The strategic intent could not be clearer.  The protests in Hong Kong now assume an altogether different framing perspective, as does the importance of the prosperity and stability principle at the heart of the response of central and local authorities. If Hong Kong is slowly to sink into the larger metropolis which is the Pearl River Basin, and if it is to be, perhaps, a second order entity within that metropolis (following Shenzhen), then the protests both interfere with that slow process and present an opportunity to more expeditiously reconcile the autonomy of Hong Kong with the realities of its place within the metropolitan center of the southern region of China. .


Any calculation of the future of Hong Kong ought to bear in mind  this important declaration of policy. To that end, the document should be of special interest to those  on either side of the political battles within Hong Kong. The Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen includes an introduction and seven thematic sections.  Each coils around the other to produce an intertwined web of reciprocal protocols, objectives, and iterations of relationship which, when summed, leave very little space for the sort of Hong Kong autonomy that foreigners and perhaps some of the protestors have in mind. A consideration of key points drives this home.


First, the opening section of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen makes clear that regional integration is also closely tied to its evolving interpretation of the One Country Two Systems principle. Both were the products of Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of Reform and Opening Up and each must be understood as deeply tied to the other.  It also suggests the dynamic character of both regional integration (reconciliation)  and the character of the autonomy at the heart of that effort through the One Country Two Systems principle (resistance). That dynamic character  also suggests that the role of resistance and of reconciliation changes over time--that is it flips so that the resistance to full reconciliation in Two Systems in the 1990ss becomes the vehicle to reconciliation through One Country principles incarnated through the process of regional integration.


Second, the initial section on “overall requirements” of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen emphasizes the emerging hierarchies of Chinese Marxist-Leninism in the New Era.  These hierarchies are central to the document as a whole and color interpretations of all of its granular pronouncements. To ignore this is to misinterpret the document  in the most fundamental way. This is a statement of fundamental reconciliation of the major actors that together will form an integrated Pearl River regional center. There is no space here for peculiarities in Hong Kong that contradict or interfere with this regional integration and coordination of economic planning, and the creation of a “model of socialist modernization and power.”[15] To that end, Shenzhen is to be understood as the vanguard model for the region.  It is here that the central authorities will seek to create the model city, the model environment, the model workers and Communist Party cadres, the model culture, all contributing to prosperity and stability under the guidance of the vanguard leadership core of the state. That includes Hong Kong. Shenzhen will lead precisely because its growth will be cultivated for both a window into China and a window onto the world--effectively displacing Hong Kong whose importance in that regard in the 1990s created the necessity for One Country Two Systems and permitted its (temporary) autonomy. By 2035, Shenzhen “should become a national model, and the city's comprehensive economic competitiveness should lead the world. . . .  By the middle of this century, Shenzhen should become a global benchmark city with competitiveness, innovation and influence.”[16]


Third, the section of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen on high quality development means to shift the leadership role of the region to Shenzhen. To that end, the intent appears to be to have Shenzhen serve as the driver of cooperation and integration of economic and technology related activity for the region.[17]  It also , suggests the central role to be played by Shenzhen in the transformation of the prior era strategies for reform and opening up within a spatial and cultural context. To that end, Shenzhen is to be supported in becoming the regional center for both inbound and outbound relations.[18] The regional centering is directly expressed with Shenzhen slated for positioning as the hub of the new metropolitan region in which Macao, Hong Kong and Guangzhou  will provide the spokes.  In a sense, this applies the current pattern of economic, social and cultural institutional development--one that is built from out of a core (a leadership core, a national core, a regional core, etc.) and then expands outward through its key spokes.  That is the pattern of the Belt and Road Initiative; it is the essence of New Era democratic centralism. It appears to be  planned for Hong Kong as well.  The shock, of course, for Hong Kong people, so used to thinking themselves as the core of the region, is the way that central authorities are already making clear that its position will change, and likely dramatically.[19]


Fourth, the section of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen on democracy and rule of law  and on the shaping of modern urban civilization poses a greater challenge both for Hong Kong protestors and the character of the autonomy of Hong Kong.[20] Shenzhen is to be a model of people’s deliberate democracy--a key element of New Era political constitutionalism under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.[21] There are five key elements. The first, already mentioned, is the construction of Shenzhen as the ideal expression of Marxist Leninist governance under the principles of the New Era.[22] That ideal can then be used as a template for others and as the baseline against which other city governance (including that of Hong Kong)  can be assessed. Second, Shenzhen is to serve as a model social credit system site.[23] The focus is on business and economic activity.[24] For Hong Kong business interests, this might well as serve as a warning of the development of another assessment baseline, especially for Hong Kong companies with substantial connections to the mainland. If  Paragraph 8 targeted the development of an ideal model for public governance, and Paragraph 9 focused on the ideal structure for business conduct, then Paraph 10 focuses on the development of the ideal social environment for the forward progress of stability and prosperity.[25] And again, social credit is at the center of a system that incorporates Hong Kong.[26] Paragraphs 11 and 12 then emphasize the creation of model culture around and from out of Shenzhen as the core of such development.[27] 


Fifth, the section of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen on common prosperity also drives home the use of Shenzhen as a point of reconciling  the approaches and life of the cities now forming a rim around Shenzhen.[28]  In that context, the focus on reforming the education system[29] might pose a problem for the autonomous cultural basis of Hong Kong academic circles--especially for institutions and faculty that have taken their cue from their western counterparts in liberal democratic states.  The implication, of course, is that the liberal democratic public intellectual[30] sitting comfortably protected within an academic institution may not survive the reconciliation of the Shenzhen with its regional spokes.  And to some extent students will serve as the disciplinary assault forces. “We will enjoy “civil treatment” for the people and students living in Hong Kong and Macao who work and live in Shenzhen.”[31] The development of “urban disaster prevention capabilities and strengthen emergency management cooperation in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.”[32] For Hong Kong people, this might seem like the way that one breaks resistance by programs of reconciliation, especially where the definition of disasters and emergencies might be determined by regional authorities.


Sixth, what may be viewed as implied  in the first sixteen paragraphs of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen is driven home by its concluding paragraphs. These focus on the strengthening of the Communist Party’s leadership and Party building in the region. “We will implement the party's organizational line in the new era and encourage the SAR cadres to take a new role in the new era.”[33]It also points to a more vigorous role  by national legislative and oversight organs in the governance of the regions with Shenzhen at its center.[34] And most importantly, the regionalization under the leadership “leadership of the Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao and Dawan District Construction Leading Group”[35] is brought home at the conclusion of the Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen. The pressure on autonomy for Hong Kong, for Hong Kong going its own way or moving towards a more international city model is quite direct. It is the regional group that serves as the leading group that will shape the extent of the autonomy afforded Hong Kong with the Shenzhen model at the center.  Its object is to  “strengthen guidance and coordination, and timely study and solve major problems encountered in the advancement of Shenzhen's pioneering socialist demonstration zone with Chinese characteristics.”[36] The objects are unmistakable.


And thus the essence of Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe) applied to the situation in Hong Kong through the instrument of Shenzhen: “Those in antiquity who excelled in applying the method of turning back (bei ) and forth (xiang ) were able to exercise  their authority (xie) across the border and accommodate lords and nobles; they could create space to practice resist-reconcile and reshape it or turn it around for the purpose of reconciliation and unity.”[37] That is the essence of the strategy of Shenzhen for Hong Kong.  The future of Hong Kong is Shenzhen.




* * *


[1] Guiguzi (鬼谷子), Guiguzi: China’s First Treatise on Rhetoric; A Critical Translation and Commentary (Hui Wu (trans.); Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2016 (before 220 A.D.)); Book II.6.1, pp. 59-60..

[2] See, e.g., essays Chapters 3 (Mend-Break (Di Xi 抵巇)), 8 (Assessing (Quan )),

[3] "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics (15 August 2019)" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)]; available [http://politics.people.com.cn/n1/2019/0819/c1001-31301962.html] (hereafter Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen”). A crude English language translation appears in Larry Catá Backer,  The Situation in Hong Kong: "Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen's Pioneering Demonstration Zone with Chinese Characteristics" [中共中央国务院关于支持深圳建设中国特色社会主义先行示范区的意见 (二〇一九年八月九日)],” Law at the End of the Day (19 August 2019); available [https://lcbackerblog.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-situation-in-hong-kong-opinions-of.html].

[4] Guiguzi: China’s First Treatise on Rhetoric, supra;  Book II.6.1-II.6.3, pp. 59-63 (Resist-Reconcile (忤合 Wuhe)). Cf., Joachim Gentz, “Rhetoric as the Art of Listening: Concepts of Persuasion in the First Eleven Chapters of the Guiguzi,” Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques 68: 1001-1019 (2014).

[5] Ibid., Book II.6.1.  Here the text speaks to the strategy of intelligent naming that creates a space for reconciling and resisting. See ibid., at notes 25-26. One understands (naming) in its semiotic sense--to draw distinctions between objects (resist) and to align them (reconcile), or bian ( ) (arguments grounded in the drawing  of distinctions) but in a way that rationalizes () the distinctions drawn .

[6] Cf. Chun Yang, “The Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong: an evolving cross-boundary region under ‘one country, two systems’,” Habitat International 30(1):61-86 (2006).

[7] Cf. Juan Du, The Shenzhen Experient: The Story of China’s Instant City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020); Weiwen Huang, “The Tripartite Origins of Shenzhen: Beijing, Hong Kong, and Bao’an,” in Mary Ann O’Donnell, Winnie Wong, and Jonathan Bach, eds. Learning From Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment From Special Zone to Model City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017),  pp. 65-85.

[8] Zhigang Li, Jiang Xu, Anthony G O Yeh, “State Rescaling and the Making of City-Regions in the Pearl River Delta, China,” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 32(1):129-143 (2014).

[9] William A. Callahan, “The China Dream and the American Dream,” Economic and Political Studies 2(1): 143-160; Shi, Yuzhi”中国梦区别于美国梦的七大特征” [Seven reasons why the Chinese Dream is different from the American Dream], Qiushi (20 May 2013).

[10] Jiangbo Bie, Martin de Jong, and Ben Derudder, “Greater Pearl River Deta: Historical Evolution Towards a Global City-Region,” Journal of Urban Technology 22(2):103-123 (2015).

[11] Peter Ferdinand, “Westward Ho--The China Dream and ‘One Belt, One Road’: Chinese Foreign Policy Under Xi Jinping,” International Affairs 92(4):941-957 (2016).

[12] See essay Chapter 8, supra.

[13] See Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen, note 2, supra.

[14] Ibíd.

[15] Ibid. ¶1.

[16] Ibid., ¶3.

[17] Ibid., ¶¶4-5.

[18] Ibid., ¶ 6 (e.g., “Promote more international organizations and institutions to settle in Shenzhen. Support Shenzhen to hold international large-scale sports events and cultural exchange activities, build a national team training base, and undertake major home-based diplomatic activities”)

[19] Ibid., ¶7.

[20] Ibid., ¶¶8-12

[21] Ibid., ¶8. Discussed in  Larry Catá Backer and Miaoqiang Dai, “Socialist Constitutional Democracy in the Age of Accountability” (问责时代的社会主义宪制民主) (October 23, 2018). Available [https://ssrn.com/abstract=3271731].

[22] Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen, supra, ¶8.

[23] Ibid., ¶9

[24] Ibid. (“implement credit supervision reform, and promote the law-abiding integrity management of various market entities”).

[25] Ibid., ¶10.

[26] Ibid., (“Strengthen the construction of the social credit system and take the lead in building a unified social credit platform. Accelerate the construction of smart cities and support Shenzhen to build a large data center in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.”). For discussion, see, e.g., Larry Catá Backer, “Next Generation Law: Data Driven Governance and Accountability Based Regulatory Systems in the West, and Social Credit Regimes in China,” USC Interdisciplinary Law Journal 28(1):123-172 (2018).

[27] Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen, supra, ¶¶11-12. Thus for example ¶ 11 speaks to promoting “the innovation and development of public cultural services, and take the lead in building an inclusive, high-quality, sustainable urban public cultural service system.” Paragraph 12 describes the need to center Shenzhen at the center of the development of a “digital cultural industry and creative culture industry, and strengthen cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao digital creative industries.”

[28] Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen, supra, ¶¶13-14.

[29] Ibid., ¶13.

[30] For a sense of this cultural phenomenon in the liberal democratic west, see, e.g., Pierre Bourdieu, “The Corporatism of the Universal: The Role of the Intellectuals in the Modern World,” Carolyn Betensky (trans) Telos 81:99-110 (1989).

[31] Central Committee Opinion on Shenzhen, supra, ¶14.

[32] Ibid., ¶16.

[33] Ibid., ¶17.

[34] Ibid., ¶18.

[35] Ibid., ¶19.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Guiguzi: China’s First Treatise on Rhetoric, supra;  Book II.6.3, p. 62.

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