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Macau kicks off informal Hong Kong-style poll on democracy

AP

Activists in the Chinese casino capital of Macau on Sunday kicked off an informal poll to gauge support for democratic reforms, inspired by a similar vote in Hong Kong that had a big turnout but was denounced by Beijing as an illegal farce.

The former Portuguese colony, like nearby Hong Kong, is a semiautonomous Chinese region with a leader hand-picked by an elite Beijing-friendly committee.

The 400-member committee is widely expected to elect current leader Fernando Chui to another five-year term on Aug. 31, the same day that referendum organizers plan to release the poll results.

The only place in China where casinos are legal, Macau rakes in annual gambling revenue of $45 billion, dwarfing the money earned on the Las Vegas Strip. But social tensions have grown as the decade-long casino boom has widened inequality, strained resources and inflated housing prices in the city of about 600,000.

In May, 20,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against a bill giving lavish retirement benefits to top officials, forcing the government to scrap it.

The three groups organizing the unofficial referendum, Macau Conscience, Macao Youth Dynamics and Open Macau Society, are taking their lead from Hong Kong democracy activists, who held a similar poll in June that drew nearly 800,000 votes and set the stage for a confrontation with Beijing over democratic reform.

Macau residents can cast votes online between Sunday and Aug. 30.

On Sunday they can also go to five polling stations run by volunteers to have their say on two motions: whether they believe Macau’s leader should be directly elected in 2019, and whether they have confidence in Chui, the incumbent.

Hong Kong returned to Beijing’s control in 1997, and Macau followed two years later. Both are granted a high degree of control over their own affairs under the principle of “one country, two systems.” But unlike Hong Kong, there’s no provision in Macau’s mini-constitution for eventual full democracy.

  • velocitybox

    I am a Chinese working as a China analyst at a think tank. It is becoming more and more apparent to many people, that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knows it is on its last straw of survival.

    The party is facing severe and increasing systematic stress on all fronts:

    1. Increasing external oppositions from all other countries in the world including all of China’s neighbors. They are forming more and more alliances and becoming more outspoken with rising strengths against China, in addition to increasing anti-China sentiment from people in all other countries. Many countries including Canada and Australia have tightened their immigration policy to prevent Chinese from entering their countries. Even on these casual internet message boards, when you look past the paid Chinese propaganda professional commenters, you notice rising general anti-China feelings from all over the world.

    2. Increasing internal severe and massive violent social unrest and anti-CCP mutiny from people of all Chinese living places e.g. mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Macau etc. To beat down internal dissent, the CCP every year is forced to spend even more money than on its massive military budget. This is continuously worsened by the free flow of information, with Chinese people knowing more and more from traveling abroad and learning about truths from jumping beyond the “Great Fire Wall” on the internet.

    3. Its own economy and social condition never able to develop to higher level beyond mass skill-less manufacturing, due to complete absence of law and common morals. High technology and innovations and scientific development all require many citizens working together voluntarily contributing long term in a system they trust, with things like rule of law, no censorship on knowledge, no restrictions on speech and expression, copyrights, patents, common morals when collaborating and trading with each other etc. These qualities are all destroyed in modern China by the CCP. When was the last time you heard an announcement of technology development or innovations or scientific breakthrough coming from a Chinese organization / company / university? You haven’t because there ain’t any. The only way modern China gets these things is from stealing and spying from all other countries, but that has become much more difficult since the whole world has caught on to their act.

    This systematic fatal weakness is why you do not see even one Chinese brand or company that can compete in the international market in any industry of the human race. No rule of law in China also means no people or businesses, both Chinese and foreign, ever invest in China long-term or on a large scale because everything frequently change on a whim along with the political climate. No one trusts any contract or agreement in China because they are always broken by the Chinese and there is no legal protection whatsoever, meaning China can never advance to a knowledge economy or service economy. No rule of law also ensures Shanghai fail to become a financial city despite the CCP dumping huge resources into it for 30 years.

    4. China’s mass skill-less manufacturing itself is going away to other countries due to increasing costs and openly hostile and unfair business environment full of frauds and sanctioned protectionism and government robberies. The labor force is endlessly more demanding both in wages and benefits expectations and working conditions, especially since all of today’s Chinese workers are single child used to coddling and indulgement by their families. It is further worsened by the rise of robotic automatic manufacturing and 3D printing. This situation is a death knock to the “growth-based legitimacy” of the CCP, which is the only thing CCP can rely on for continuing ruling power. For sure Chinese people tolerate the CCP when the economy seemingly explodes, but when one day it crashes and the country’s hopeless bad shape hit them in the face the people’s “support” for the CCP will turn on a dime.

    Since six months ago, all the major economic indicators for China have gone on a continuing nosedive – including manufacturing orders, export volume, commercial investments, corporate credits, foreign capital inflow, domestic consumptions, real estate prices, Chinese tourist numbers and spendings, luxury goods demand, HSBC Service PMI, survey of business sentiments etc. The CCP is on its last resort of printing literally trillions of worthless renminbi to dump into the economy, causing way more long-term harm than short-term help, and when that is over there is nothing else the CCP can do to prop up the failing economy. China currently ranks 82nd on GDP per capita and that is the highest it can go before falling sharply in the coming near future.

    5. Fierce unstoppable purges and mutually-destructive infighting among different factions within the party, who are imprisoning and killing each other every day. This power grab goes on under the laughable thin guise of “anti-corruption drive” when everyone knows all officials in china are corrupted. No work to manage the country or guide the ship is being done while this is going on.

    6. Its many previously-suppressed fatal problems have all grown too big to be contained all breaking out at the same time e.g.

    - severe carcinogenic poisonous pollution everywhere in air and water and soil and their own food etc, with the WHO issuing multiple warnings on Chinese population having the fastest cancer growth rate in the whole world
    - skyrocketing unrepayable bad debts of all kinds everywhere, its true scope unknown because all data from China are faked
    - biggest housing bubble in human history, in addition to innumerous crumbling “ghost cities” and shoddily-built vanity project infrastructure that cannot and will not be used
    - rapidly aging demographics with a 140:100 male:female gender ratio (from one child policy, culture of “leftover women”, and many Chinese families killing their own daughters so as to chase boys)
    - world’s no.1 wealth inequality, with a Gini coefficient rivaling 18th century France just before the French revolution
    - complete absence of soft power / cultural influence / social attraction, one result of which is minimal and sharply dwindling number of foreign professionals and tourists and students going to China
    - all Chinese chasing foreign-brand goods and services while ditching low-quality Chinese-brands, who have a well known history of poisoning their own food and their own baby formula so as to make more money. This dashs CCP’s hope to build indigenous industries and a domestic consumption economy
    - corruptions and fraud throughout the whole rotten core of a system
    - desperate mass exodus at all levels of Chinese society to escape the country using emigration or buying houses / study abroad or marriage to foreigners or plain old human smuggling, resulting in all able Chinese leaving taking huge amounts of talents and money out of the country
    - the law of large numbers and the “middle-income trap” all work against the “growth-based legitimacy” CCP desperately needs for its survival

    Most importantly, the CCP knows that if 1.4 billion Chinese learn about basic human qualities such as morals, truth, fairness, human rights, rule of law, freedom, universal values etc the CCP will be toppled very quickly. Therefore its state-controlled brainwashing education and propaganda machinations ensure a complete lack of morals and regard for laws in all Chinese growing up and beyond. This results in failure in all basic aspects of human interactions with every modern Chinese, whether it is business trading / personal dealings / technology development / creating innovations / human communications / scientific research / artistic expressions / teamwork collaborations / academic exchange etc. Another propaganda brainwashing technique used by the CCP is to make all Chinese people pathologically nationalistic and very emotional on this issue, so the CCP can always create and point to some “foreign enemies” so as to hide all the domestic crises and government robberies going on. This attention-diverting technique is the same trick magicians have used for more than a thousand years to fool their audience.

    An interesting example would be the Chinese reaction to this report – they are expected to dismiss this report as total rubbish, accuse the author “unpatriotic” for saying the truth, shout China will only become richer and stronger than all other countries, yet they will give no counter-arguments and they will make no acknowledgement to the horrible factual conditions and complete lack of basic human qualities listed above in modern China. Ironically, the longer Chinese people deny or refuse to acknowledge the CCP problem, the longer they are only digging themselves into the hole and hurting themselves for any chance of recovery. Consider the example of Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram etc – these services are all completely blocked in China while at the same time the rest of the planet are on these services every second communicating ideas with each other, making friends, exchanging knowledge, doing business, working together, improving science and technology and arts, and advancing humanity.

    Some people say China economically developed a lot in past 30 years, but the truth is this “development” is actually debt borrowed against the future. After the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of their own students, in order to survive and hang on to power, the CCP was forced to pursue short-term explosive economic growth that sacrifice everything else, including a foundation for future economic and social development. This “scorched earth” policy is like winning the lottery for corrupted CCP officials who can rob a lot of money from the country in the short-term before escaping to America. The only entity left to suffer is China’s future starting from now, a country that has been turned by the CCP into a place with no law, no morals, no system for future scientific or economic or social development, no spiritual support apart from money, no trust or cooperation among Chinese, no trust or goodwill from foreigners, no other country as friends, all resources sold away cheaply, entire environment and air and water and soil and food fatally polluted, only social recognition is to make a lot of money for “face”, no creativity or personal development for Chinese young people, a populus not allowed to know the truths and not allowed to say the truths.

    The end result is that majority wealth of this “debt borrowed against the future” has gone to the 0.0000001% elite ruling class “princeling” CCP families (about 250 of them) who have already smuggled trillions of dollars abroad along with their U.S. passports and their own children (all Chinese elites and Politburo members hold foreign passports, with U.S. and U.K. being the most sought after choice). For the CCP in 1989, 1.4 billion people is great central-planning asset when the country start from nothing and you order them to do backbreaking mass manufacturing repetitive work 20 hours a day without workers protection of any kind. But in the 2014 borderless knowledge economy when that no longer works, 1.4 billion immoral and uncooperative and selfish and undeveloped and angry Chinese contained in a lawless system without any hopes of growth is very, very dangerous liability for the CCP.

    All debts against the future have to be paid back – China is no exception. That moment may arrive a bit later than expected but it surely will come, as it has on 100% of occasions in human history. For China the moment has arrived to suffer the consequences for all its own chosen actions in past 30 years. All the festering fundamental systematic problems listed above and much more, are only getting worse and worse everyday until one day when the system can suddenly no longer bear.

    Think USSR in 1989.