It is difficult not to be pessimistic about the political future of Hong Kong. Dictatorship by the Communists is written into the Chinese constitution, and jealously guarded by the Beijing government. The brutal and crude suppression of the weekly newspaper Southern Weekly (南方周末) is yet another example for that. There is no motivation for them to relax their control of the political system in Hong Kong. In fact, all indications point to a desire for more control, not less.
In Hong Kong, there is a significant number of die-hard pro-Communists. They were the persecuted ones in colonial times, but are now enjoying more power. They are the known factors, but not really the majority. What is more worrying are those who are not ideologically in favour of Communism, but are willing, and in fact eager, to support and aggressively promote increased control by the mainland. They know that this stance will buy them more influence. This group is becoming more vocal and numerous.
These two groups are in control of the government and the legislature. They would not be in favour of more open elections, which threaten their own power and status, and is not something Beijing would be favourable of. Hence it is easy for Beijing to say: “We do not object to universal suffrage in Legislative Council elections in 2017. But look, there is a majority of legislators and a significant number of Hong Kong people who are opposed. There is no consensus for universal suffrage in Hong Kong in 2017. Let us postpone it.” That argument can be applied ad infinitum.
In the face of such depressing reality, we can draw some hope from the reaction to the suppression of Southern Weekly. Many people have stood up to protest against the suppression. It reminds us of the protesters in 1989, Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), and others, that there have always been courageous people in China and Hong Kong who value justice more than political power and wealth. It is just that there have not been enough of them yet.