Massive ongoing protests in Hong Kong reveal a fundamental issue that is likely to lead to significant political consequences and societal developments. Amidst this internationally followed movement is the vital question of whether Hong Kong is or should be part of the People’s Republic of China.
Earlier in 2019, the Beijing-based People’s Republic of China government proposed The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendement) Bill. Specifically, the proposed bill, regarding extradition, was to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) in relation to special surrender arrangements and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) for purposes of arrangements for mutual legal assistance between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong (i.e. Mainland China). The bill was technically proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to set up a mechanism for transfers of fugitives primarily for Mainland China, but also for Taiwan and Macau, which are presently excluded from the existing laws.
The proposition of the bill caused widespread criticism locally and internationally from legal professionals, journalist organizations, business groups, and foreign governments anticipating the erosion of Hong Kong’s legal system and its built-in safeguards, in addition to the harm to Hong Kong’s business climate. Local protests began immediately and have continued for months. On June 9th the protesters on the streets numbered more than one million calling for Chief Executive, Carrie Lam to step down. On June 15th, Lam announced she would ‘suspend’ the proposed bill, but the citizens didn’t believe her. Protesters called for a complete withdrawal of the bill and subsequently the implementation of universal suffrage, which is already promised in the Basic Law. After 3 months of protests, Lam finally promised to withdraw the bill upon resumption of the legislative session.
Does Hong Kong Belong in China
It is clear that the Hong Kong people are sensitive to attempts by the Mainland Chinese government to annihilate them into their control. Most Hong Kong residents don’t consider them Chinese and many are now calling for an independent nation-state status. To accomplish this, Honk Kong needs to be recognized as independent by several world powers.
Considerations In Determining an Independent Nation-State
- Language: Cantonese is the primary language spoken in Honk Kong and Mandarin is the primarily language spoken in Mainland China.
- Culture: Honk Kong’s economy and atmosphere is more like a western-world, world-class city than anything in Mainland China, including the customs and lifestyle.
- Government and Laws: Mainland China is Communist and Hong Kong has a limited Democracy. Hong Kong has its own legal and judicial systems, loosely based on the British common law model and has its own government head.
- Geography: Hong Kong has several isles and with the exception of one peninsular which shares a 12 km stretch with Mainland China is geographically separate and distinct from Mainland China.
- Currency: Hong Kong uses the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) while Mainland China uses the Chinese Yuan (RMB).
- History: China has had many turbulent years after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912. With the Chinese Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War, and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, millions of people died. Many also died as a result of the failed ‘Great Leap Forward’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’ attempts of reforming the country into a productive, socialist society. In 1970s, China started seeing some stability with economic reforms that helped to decrease poverty and begin to positively reshape the country. On the other hand, Hong Kong was shielded from the horrors that China was facing because of its relationship with Britain (except for the Japanese occupation from 1941-1945). Many Chinese people fled to Hong Kong from Mainland China in search of safety, causing Hong Kong’s economy to skyrocket. In 1997, when the Hong Kong was once again ruled by the Chinese government, it became semi-autonomous, permitting a capitalist economy and independent legal system.
- Internet: In mainland China, the government regulates the Internet with its own separate Internet world, the “Great Firewall”, along with its own social media apps and blogging sites. To obtain access to any of the blocked foreign sites, such as Facebook or Google, you have to use a VPN (virtual private network). On the other hand, Hong Kong has no “Great Firewall”, nor is there a need for a VPN. As a result, western websites and apps are all widely used and Chinese apps are not very common.
- Identity: Hong Kong people do not consider themselves to be Chinese and make it a point to mention that they are “from Hong Kong, not China.”
- International Reputation & Relationships: Hong Kong is seen as more sophisticated and cultured by most business people in the developed world, and has the long-term relationships to support this reputation. Hong Kong is known as “Asia’s World City” and sees tourists from all over the world all year round. In Mainland China, International tourists make up only a small percentage of the total.
- Many Hong Kong residents have already spoken out for an independent nation-state status, despite concerns they could be punished by the Chinese government.
When one considers all these differences, it becomes clear that Hong Kong should be its own Nation-State, free of Mainland China control. With the above details in mind, it is not surprising that the massive protests in Hong Kong continue even after the issue that triggered the people to take to the streets has been supposedly removed.
Do you think that Hong Kong should be part of China?
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