Hong Kong is situated to the eastern part of Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. Its official name is HKSARPRC (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of People’s Republic of China).
A brief history
In 1842 the Qing Empire which was ruling Hong Kong, lost in war to the British. Thus it became the colony of the British for the next 15 years. Around 1937, a war broke between China and Japan. The British governor of Hong Kong, Geoffrey Northolt decided not to participate in the war, thus paving the way for the rule by Japanese for the next 4 years. In 1945, the Japan withdrew from the region and as a result the Hong Kong was again on the lap of the British. At that time, the British colony was consisted of Hong Kong, Macau and other surrounding islands.
As Britain had to put in great efforts to manage the affairs in Hongkong, China was showing interest in this region. After few decades, Britain decided to hand over Hongkong to China. A few years later, the year was also confirmed from when the region will be given up by Britain.
In 1979, Hong Kong Governor Murray Mackleyhouse and the then China President Deng Xiaoping wanted to hold a discussion. The Governor insisted the British authorities participation in the discussion which was objected to by the Chinese President.
After few years, the British and the Chinese held talks on their own and it was decided that the region will be handed over to Chine by British in 1997. It was also agreed that though China prefers Communism, the same ought not to be forced in Hongkong for at least 50 years.
China agreed and re-iterated that it will have a policy called ‘One Country, Two Systems’. That is to say, though Hong Kong is part of China, it continues to follow its earlier Administrative system. It was agreed to follow Basic Law in Hong Kong, China agreeing to decide the foreign affairs and Defense related issues and the rest of the issues will be left to the Administration of Hong Kong to decide.
Since the day, the British quit, China started its unilateral attempts to bring in changes in the Administrative system in Hongkong, slowly much against the will and wish of the Hongkongers.
On one hand, China wants to erase ‘One Country, two systems’ and firmly impose its Communist Administrative policy. But it continues to receive opposition from the Hongkongers who want to have economic freedom and democratic system.
The Basic Law remained on paper. In reality China started to have a control in regard to all the walks of life in Hongkong.
Administrative Issues of Hong Kong:
In Hongkong, presently, there are three important political pressure groups-
Pro- democratic Group
A total 203 representatives are nominated by China People’s Political Consultative Conference to the State Council. Out of 1200 representatives too, China went on to handpick majority of them. The voters in Hongkong have a very limited voice.
Hong Kong’s administrative head is called Chief Executive. His tenure is two and a half years. He is elected by the State Council.
He appoints 26-member council for his term. These members will have the power to make laws, formulate budget and to put forth their views in developing the local areas. In case of threat, the council can discuss and declare emergency by temporarily taking away the fundamental rights of the people.
China’s National Law does not apply to Hong Kong. Hong Kong judiciary works on ‘common law’. However, after 1997, the Courts have started functioning under the directions of the China. Thus, following the Chinese communist laws.
Hong Kong force of the China’s People’s Liberation Army is responsible for the defence. The Chairman of the Central Military Commission is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Since Hong Kongers are not compulsorily required to perform in military services, the defence is mostly composed of non-Hongkongers.
Why people in Hongkong started protesting?
While China went on firmly to burden Hongkong with its ideology of Communism, the people of Hong Kong, especially the youth, mobilized themselves to withstand the tyranny. They wanted to continue to live in a ‘Democratic System’. They wished to voice their mind. They did not mind to look at different countries across the world for support.
The first pro-democracy protest, Hongkong saw, was in 2004. Tens of thousands, consisting of youth, took to streets in Hong Kong to protest on the election process which was controlled by China. The Hong Kong residents only had the right to vote to the political candidates, pre-approved by China under the Chinese Law. It blocked the Hong Kongers to have their own choice. The political candidates as mentioned in the article need majority support from 1200 members of the nomination committee. These members are usually Beijing loyalists.
When the tens of thousands, in Hong Kong, took to streets, it was a very threatening development. China realized this would be a threat to itself too. Police used pepper spray and tear gas. Tens of people got injured and hospitalized, while hundreds got arrested.
Though tens of thousands of youth adopted civil disobedient movement, the police used violent methods. In the meantime, in May 2020, China passed ‘National Security Law’ which infringes the ‘one nation, two systems’ law.
As recent as 28th May 2020, China passed a controversial legislation on Hong Kong. Through this legislation China gets more power to draft national security laws for Hong Kong. The draft laws, already prepared, curtail all the activities in the name of threats to the national security. This paves the way to counter the dissent, lawfully prevent, stop and punish the voice of democracy.
Many of the pro-democracy groups and legal communities in Hong Kong have criticized the proposed laws. They argue, while undermining the ‘one country, two system model’, the laws will be used to create a new system, unilaterally.
The happenings in Hong Kong remind me a quote by Martin Luther King Jr- ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere’. As human beings we all have a natural instinct to have our freedom. The freedom of choice can only be in a democratic set up, where people have the right to discuss freely, rationally and secularly. If all of us believe in Justice and Democracy then it becomes our responsibility to understand the situation in Hong Kong and elsewhere and support the Democracy movements.