Even though Britain gave Hong Kong back to China 22 years ago, today when you walk around the city you can see British “fingerprints” everywhere. From statues of Queen Victoria to Double Decker buses, British culture and lifestyle is baked into the culture at every turn.
Both the history and the current-day British influence are visually fascinating stories highlighting Britain’s imperial history, which includes “Opioid trade, discrimination and a divided city,” and its effects of that history.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984 by then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, laid out how Britain would end its century-and-a-half long rule over Hong Kong.
Under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the “Basic Law” was guaranteed its freedoms for “at least 50 years” after 1997. It also guarantees the city’s rights and freedoms under the “two systems” formula.
When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, Chinese leaders agreed that Hong Kong would be able to keep its economic and political systems, including some of the “civil” freedoms denied to China’s citizens on the mainland, for the next 50 years.
Although Hong Kong still has nearly 30 years of semi-autonomy left, China has started tightening its “grip,” and many believe it is chipping away at Hong Kong’s “freedoms.”
The video below explains how Hong Kong is dealing with the “looming” deadline as China moves in slowly “erasing its border with Hong Kong.”
Soon after Hong Kong was handed over to China with the understanding that it would retain relative autonomy under the concept of “one country, two systems,” Hong Kongers began vocally demanding Beijing stay out of their “political affairs and grant the democracy” they say they were promised with the handover.
Vice News documented the birth of the so-called “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong. When students organized a week long “strike” to protest China’s handling of the local “election” process, the government responded with “tear gas.”
Thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the city’s streets in “solidarity” with the students and the protesters occupied several major roads for weeks on end.
Several months into the “occupation,” the demands and resolve of the protesters remained “unchanged.” They started to become fatigued and “divided” against each other and public support for their “cause” began to decline.
The student movement was under immense pressure to either “escalate” their action, or to “retreat” and give back the streets. A new group “Hong Kong’s Localist Revolutionaries” was formed as “pro-democracy” activists that wanted semi-autonomous Hong Kong to “split” from China, amid concerns that Beijing is cracking down on “political and cultural freedoms.”
Many who had previously aligned under the gentler coalition “Umbrella Movement” became more “radicalized.” Seasoned China watchers began to wonder whether their calls for “independence” would prove a “provocation” gone too far.
As protestors marched through and “occupied city parks and streets,” police fired tear gas and became physically “violent.” Hong Kong, long a reliably stable world “financial” center, was being rocked by “unrest.”
There has been a “lot of talk” in Hong Kong about the year 2047. People are “fearful” of what will happen after the “one country, two systems” framework with China reaches its 50-year limit.
Many worry they will be “deprived” of the freedom they currently enjoy. Uncertainty is partly fostering a “pro-independence” sentiment especially among the young.
Hong Kong marked the “20th anniversary”of its return to China in 2017. Through the 50-year term, the Chinese government has not made clear whether it will seek to continue the “one country, two systems” framework or realize the full “restoration” of Hong Kong.
China’s Communist Party will probably not be “easy” on Hong Kong given its attempt to contain other “separatist” movements simmering in the “Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Tibet and Taiwan.”
According to a survey by the “Chinese University of Hong Kong” conducted in late September, 39% of the respondents said they are considering moving “out” of Hong Kong to places such as Taiwan, Canada and Australia. Among those aged 18 to 30, the figure stood at 57%, with many citing “discontent” with the present political system, “disintegration” of society and “economic” concerns as reasons.
With no clear future in sight, the strained atmosphere is quietly sapping Hong Kong’s vigor.