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Just as Orania is part of South Africa, Hong Kong is intrinsically part of China


Muhammad Khalid Sayed MPL is a member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature where he serves as the ANC's Deputy Chief Whip. He is also the outgoing provincial chairperson of the ANC Youth League in the Western Cape. He writes in his personal capacity.

Western media have in recent weeks characterised protesters and vandals in Hong Kong as being ‘pro-democracy’. Yet a most basic tenet of democracy is the rule of law which these demonstrators have not respected nor upheld.

Halfway between Cape Town and Tshwane, on the R369, lies the quiet Northern Cape town of Orania. 

With its reported 1,600 residents, the community of Orania has rejected the “new” South Africa and has sought instead to preserve their language, history and culture. 

One has to be an Afrikaner and pass an interview to live in Orania. 

The town has its own currency, the “Ora”, and promotes “selfwerksaamheid”, or self-reliance. 

All jobs, whether skilled or unskilled, are filled by Afrikaners and non-Afrikaners, whether black or white, are only allowed to work in the town if the locals do not possess the skill. 

Like the FW de Klerk government, the subsequent ANC government has somewhat tolerated the existence of Orania. Instead, what both De Klerk and the ANC government, post-1994, did was to vociferously oppose the concept of a “volkstaat”. 

Not being able to establish a “volkstaat”, the founders, promoters and residents of Orania employ the Constitution which endows them with the right to self-determination. Orania therefore, despite its internal arrangements, remains subject to the Constitution and rule of law of South Africa. 

We may, therefore, argue that South Africa is practising a variation of China’s constitutional principle of “one country, two systems”. 

The principle was formulated by Deng Xiaoping when China and the United Kingdom were negotiating the return of Hong Kong to China. Hong Kong had been colonised by the British since the end of the First Opium War in 1842. Over 50 years after the end of the Second World War, Hong Kong was finally returned to China. 

In 1997 the British finally left Hong Kong, and the people of Hong Kong were able to govern themselves under the “one country, two systems” principle and within China’s Special Administrative Regions, which includes Macau. 

Hong Kong could enjoy its own basic law while also maintaining its own currency, legal and legislative systems as well as its own economic system.

Hong Kong, therefore, remains part of Chinese territory. 

Just as Orania remains part of South Africa, South Africans have had no tolerance for talk of independence from Afrikaners in Orania. We should therefore not be promoting and encouraging secessionist sentiments in Hong Kong either. 

The recent laws introduced, democratically, in Hong Kong aim to ensure the territorial and sovereignty of China. 

In the last few weeks, Western media have made sure once again to characterise protesters and vandals as being “pro-democracy”. Yet, a most basic tenet of democracy is the rule of law which these demonstrators have not respected nor upheld. 

While we must be cautious in interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries, we must ensure that the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected in the international community. 

South Africans would be loath if we were to discover foreign funders encouraging as well as stoking protesting and the destruction of law and order in South Africa based simply on the quest for a “volkstaat”. 

We should therefore not be fooled into thinking that what is happening in Hong Kong is the voice of the majority of the residents of Hong Kong. The majority of residents spoke through the ballot box and it is their representatives enacting these laws which a few are violently opposing. 

During apartheid, South Africa was the pariah of the world. Apartheid South Africa, contrary even to the views of some today, was committing a crime not only against black people in the country but was indeed indulging in a crime against humanity. Humanity, therefore, had to respond. 

It is, therefore, foolish to describe what is happening in Hong Kong as a crime against humanity. 

Even more so, as South Africans, we must guarantee the sovereignty of other states so as to ensure that they, in turn, respect our right to sovereignty and territorial integrity. DM


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