Britain China And HK Equation Since 99-Year Lease End

Britain China And HK Equation Since 99-Year Lease End

After looking at Britain’s announcement of citizenship for Hong Kong citizens amidst draconian Chinese ‘Security Law’ and Britain’s involvement in their history since opium wars, let’s take a look at what happened after the lease of HK ended and it became a part of China.

Crux of the Matter

Lease End
On 2 February 2021, the UK opened a ‘special visa scheme’ for hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens. The scheme provides a chance to HK citizens to shift to the UK and eventually get British citizenship.

Read the first part of the article:: Britain-China History Amidst Possible Hong Kong Exodus


‘Sino-British Declaration’

  • 1984: UK and China signed the ‘Sino-British Joint Declaration’ for Hong Kong.
  • As per the deal, HK became a part of China from 1 July 1997 onwards.
  • However, it’d retain its “social and economic systems” for at least 50 years.

‘1 country, 2 systems’

  • The arrangement of HK retaining its systems while being considered as Chinese territory was known as “1 country, 2 systems”.
  • Allowed HK to continue as a capitalist economy.
  • Granted free speech, press, etc not provided in mainland China.
  • Relations between HK and China have been strained from the start but conflict not full-blown.
  • China still effectively approved HK leaders.

2014 Onwards

  • Intensified conflict since 2014, when China passed a law regarding the Chief Executive’s election.
  • Earlier it had promised completely democratic election for HK by 2017.
  • The law effectively allowed only Chinese approved candidates to run for the elections.

Protests have been going on in HK since 2019 when China attempted to bring the Extradition law. The final straw came in June 2020 when it passed the ‘Security Law’ in HK. It legalizes extradition and ‘hyper-surveillance’ in HK while cutting down on most of the civil rights in HK.

Read more on the Hong Kong Security Law: What Is Hong Kong Security Law And It’s History?

Curiopedia
  • Admiral Charles Elliot was a British Royal Navy officer, diplomat, and colonial administrator. He became the first Administrator of Hong Kong in 1841 while serving as both Plenipotentiary and Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China. He was a key founder in the establishment of Hong Kong as a British colony.
  • Unequal treaty‘ is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between the Qing dynasty and various Western powers, Russia, and the Empire of Japan during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The agreements, often reached after a military defeat, contained one-sided terms requiring China to cede land, pay reparations, open treaty ports, or grant extraterritorial privileges to foreign citizens.
  • The Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) was a peace treaty which ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and China on 29 August 1842. It was the first of what the Chinese later called the ‘unequal treaties’.

Britain-China History Amidst Possible Hong Kong Exodus

Britain-China History Amidst Possible Hong Kong Exodus

As Britain has announced citizenship for Hong Kong residents amidst a new draconian law brought by China, let’s take a look at why Britain is offering citizenship and why this can be understood by going back in the imperial ages.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Opening
On 2 February 2021, the UK opened a ‘special visa scheme’ for millions of Hong Kong citizens. The scheme provides a chance to HK citizens to shift to the UK and eventually get British citizenship.

Around 5 million people (out of total 7 million) are eligible to move to the UK (also counting dependents) as per BBC. The scheme has come months after China imposed ‘national security law’ in HK which cuts on HK’s pro-democracy demands.

Read Summachar’s coverage on the national security law: What Is Hong Kong Security Law And It’s History?

Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson had called the security law “serious” violation of the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” of 1984.

To understand why the UK specifically is providing citizenship to HK, we need to go back to the Opium wars.

First Opium War

  • The British illegally imported opium to China (from then-colony India) for massive profits.
  • 1839: Chinese crackdown on its import started after addiction caused economic and social chaos.
  • 1842: British attack occurred after crackdown – China lost and ceded Hong Kong to it.

Second Opium War

  • Another opium war broke even before the first war was able to resolve the opium issue.
  • British (with French aid) won again – took Kowloon Peninsula’s southern region (near Hong Kong).
  • In 1898, Britain signed a treaty with China to lease HK, Kowloon and other islands for 99 years.

HK was considered a part of ‘4 Asian Tigers’ along with Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan due to its rapidly growing economy in the 1970s.

Curiopedia
  • Admiral Charles Elliot was a British Royal Navy officer, diplomat, and colonial administrator. He became the first Administrator of Hong Kong in 1841 while serving as both Plenipotentiary and Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China. He was a key founder in the establishment of Hong Kong as a British colony.
  • Unequal treaty‘ is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between the Qing dynasty and various Western powers, Russia, and the Empire of Japan during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The agreements, often reached after a military defeat, contained one-sided terms requiring China to cede land, pay reparations, open treaty ports, or grant extraterritorial privileges to foreign citizens.
  • The Treaty of Nanking (Nanjing) was a peace treaty which ended the First Opium War (1839–1842) between the United Kingdom and China on 29 August 1842. It was the first of what the Chinese later called the ‘unequal treaties’.

Nations Open Doors For Hong-Kongers

Nations Open Doors For Hong-Kongers

Several nations have come out in the support of Hong-Kongers amidst the strict measures implemented by China, which controls the country in a special manner.
Summachar Coverage: What Is Hong Kong Security Law And It’s History?

Crux of the Matter

Hong Kong-China Connection
After the expiry of the 99 year lease, Hong Kong was transferred to Chinese control by the British. HK is tied to China by the “1 country, 2 systems” provision, which grants it significant autonomy while remaining under the Chinese control. The most conspicuous example of the autonomy of HK is its economy, which is based on a free-market model while China remains under the Communist Party rule.

Hong Kong Security Laws
China recently passed the “Security Law” for Hong Kong, which criminalizes “secession, subversion and collusion” against the Chinese government. These laws would restrict the freedom of HK citizens while infringing on fundamental civil rights, which have been described by experts as “draconian“. In 2019, massive protests broke out in Hong Kong against the controversial Extradition Law. These troubles compounded with Covid-19, HK was one of the first countries to fall into recession in 2020.

Support From Outside
Hong-Kongers have received support from countries all over the world, with several nations extending support for them to escape the authoritarianism of the Chinese government.

  • Taiwan has opened a special office to help Hong-Kongers who wish to stay there to escape the “draconian” laws.
  • UK, which controlled HK till 1997, has provided a “new route” to HK citizens to settle there. More than 3 million HK citizens would be eligible for the emigration.
  • Australia described itself as “a great immigration nation” for the escaping HK citizens and extended visas for them.


Sanctions On China
Besides extending support to the Hong-Kongers, several nations have imposed sanctions on China for its oppressive measures.

  • Australia terminated its extradition treaty with Hong Kong over concerns regarding its autonomy.
  • US passed a law to penalize American banks doing business with Chinese officials. It has also banned the visas of Chinese officials participating in measures against HK and Uighur Muslims.
  • Canada suspended its extradition treaty with HK, while reportedly aiming for modifying immigration laws for HK citizens.


Hits On Chinese Business
The imposed sanctions have also been augmented by countries diminishing their business deals with China and its companies.

  • India recently banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, UC Browser, etc. over security concerns, coming in the light of recent borders clashes with China. After the move by India, US President Trump is also planning to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps.
  • The UK government is close to banning Huawei products from 5G networks over company’s data sharing with the Chinese Govt, with several European nations expected to follow the suit.
  • France recently supplied weapon upgrades to Taiwan after China’s attempts to dissuade failed. China considers Taiwan as a part of its own, which the latter rejects.

In a show of strength, the US sailed two aircraft carrier ships USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz in the South China sea on July 6. Shortly afterwards, it flew a B-52 Nuclear Bomber jet in the region.

Curiopedia
  • Holes in Hong Kong’s skyscrapers are called Dragon Gate. According to the Chinese principle, Feng Shui, these holes allow dragons to fly; because it is believed that blocking a dragon’s path could bring misfortune.
  • The Praya Reclamation Scheme was a large-scale land reclamation project carried out by the Hong Kong Land company in Colonial Hong Kong. The first reclamation project eventually began in 1868 and was completed in 1873. It added significant land to Praya Central, which later became present-day Des Voeux Road(Hong Kong).
  • As of 2018, Hong Kong Stock exchange has 2,315 listed companies with a combined market capitalization of HK$29.9 trillion. It is reported as the fastest growing stock exchange in Asia.

What Is Hong Kong Security Law And It’s History?

Controversial Hong Kong Security Law And Its History

China passed Security Law in Hong Kong which would restrict public freedom, manifesting the complex relationship between the two.

Crux of the Matter

Security Law
China passed the Security Law for Hong Kong (HK) on 30 June 2020. The law criminalizes “secession, subversion and collusion” against the Chinese Govt for HK citizens. Critics have expressed strong disapproval of the law, labeling it as “draconian” which would infringe fundamental civil rights.

Previous protests on a similar level occurred in 2019 when China attempted to enforce Extradition Law. The law would have allowed the trial of dissenters of HK in Chinese Courts.

Impact On Civilians

  • Severe restrictions now imposed on the criticism of Chinese government.
  • China would set up a Security Office in Hong Kong, which would function outside HK jurisdiction.
  • Extradition allowed: Dissenters in HK would be put on trial in China by Govt permission.
  • Hyper surveillance of citizens and dissenters would be done.
  • Definition of ‘sedition’ changed, now also including acts of protest and dissent.
  • Chinese government would have stronger control over foreign NGOs and news agencies.
  • Lawbreakers would be imprisoned, with sentences possible to be extended for life.

Civilians have started removing posts from social media which criticized the Chinese government, while pro-democracy activists have started resigning from their posts.

History of Hong Kong
Hong Kong (HK) existed as an island under Chinese rule.

  • 1842: China and Britain engage in the first Opium war. China loses the war and HK is handed over to Britain.
  • 1898: Britain wins the second Opium war, and takes HK on a lease of 99 years.
  • 1949: The Communist Party of China wins the civil war, forcing the nationalists to flee to Taiwan and HK.
  • 1949-1997: HK establishes autonomous rule and a capitalist economy.
  • 1997: Britain grants the rule of HK to China after the 99 years lease expired. China integrates HK with ‘One country, Two systems‘, which allows it to retain its capitalist economy.
  • 2014: Mass protests occur as the bill of pre-screening the Chief Executive nominee is passed.
  • 2019: China attempts to pass ‘Extradition Law‘, which it withdraws after mass protests.
  • 2020: China passes the Security Law. US imposes trade restrictions after concerns over the autonomy of HK against Chinese forces.

One country, Two Systems: Hong Kong & Macau to have their own governmental, legal, financial systems & trade relations with foreign countries, independent from those of the Mainland. It was formulated in the early 1980s by Deng Xiaoping during negotiations with the UK over Hong Kong. It must also be noted that under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, Hong Kong was guaranteed its freedoms for “at least 50 years” after 1997.

Curiopedia
  • The name Hong Kong is actually a phonetic translation of the city’s Cantonese name (heung gong), which literally means “Fragrant Harbour”.
  • A series of sit-in street protests, often called the Umbrella Revolution, occurred in Hong Kong from 26 September to 15 December 2014. Its name arose from the use of umbrellas as a tool for passive resistance to the Hong Kong Police’s use of pepper spray.
  • A bipartisan group of prominent U.S. lawmakers has nominated Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters for the Nobel Peace Prize. In a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and James McGovern recommended awarding the prize to the countless and often anonymous individuals [who] risked their lives, their health, their jobs, and their education to support a better future for Hong Kong.

Dissenting End to Decade – I

The last year of the decade has seen the sprouting of protests across the globe. From Latin America to Hong Kong, the protests that flared up can be rooted in three major causes, climate change issues, widening economic gap, and political repression. Suppression of protests and protestors in a systemic way was seen to be a common thread. Let us peep into the protests that shook the civilization in 2019.

Crux of the Matter

Beginning of 2019
Towards the end of 2018, France had engulfed in ‘Yellow Vest‘ Protests. The protests began as an upheaval against the rising fuel cost, and cost of living in France as for French people living in rural areas or out of urban regions, a car is a necessity. The protest that began as an online petition, became widespread by the beginning of 2019 and gradually morphed into anti-establishment protests. Towards the end of 2019, the Yellow Vest protests sparked up again, but this time to agitate against pension reforms. The movement is ongoing. Protestors had resorted to road-blocks and other methods to show their dissent, whereas police did their duty of dispersing the crowd, sometimes a little too harshly that injured protestors.

February 2019
Kazakhstan was the next nation to face anti-establishment dissent. 5 children died due to house fire in Nur Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Citizens’ discontentment was fueled by citing numerous lapses of the government and the rapidly growing economic gap. While the protests were ongoing, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took over. The new President called for snap elections, which he won with thumping majority. However, protests persisted – some seeking economic reforms, some asking the government to not bend to China – and the government many times arrested protestors.

Algeriens ‘March’ Forth
In March 2019, protestors flocked to streets in Algeria. Protestors, mostly Millenials, saw unrealized freedom and liberal laws. They demanded the then Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been incumbent for 3 decades, to withdraw his candidacy. Majorly a government reformation protest was underway to diminish the monopolistic environment. Some protestors vandalized property and resorted to violent means. Algerians Police had said that “the majority of the people arrested were under the influence of psychotropic or hallucinogenic substances.” Bouteflika had to resign.

Hong Kong Protests, Trendsetters
Protests in Hong Kong flared up after the controversial Extradition Bill. The Bill might have exposed HK to regulations of Mainland China, and fear of this brought thousands of protestors, mostly young, to the streets. Violence erupted after Carry Lam proceeded with the Bill and the police resorted to tear gas bombing and firing rubber bullets on protestors. Soon after the protests took a meta form and police atrocity was another brick in the high wall of protests. Police and Student protestors had clashed at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Protestors used gasoline bombs and fired arrows at the police and seized universities to use them as a fort to develop weapons and strategize protests. While the police were criticized for using undue force on protestors. Protestors put forth 5 demands:
1. Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill (This demand has been met)
2. For the protests not to be characterized as “riot”
3. Amnesty for arrested protesters
4. An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality
5. Implementation of complete universal suffrage

Pro-Democracy cried continued from Hong Kong. Hong Kong Protests could be seen as one in which highest number of people flocked the streets to protests against government action in the recent past. Repercussions of the Hong Kong Protests were seen in the economy of the country and in the traction it received from world nations. Social Media played an integral role in strategizing protests in Hong Kong, with a lot of people resorting to talking in encryption like using Bruce Lee‘s famous “Be Water” phrase. Hong Kong protests might have acted as a catalyst for the global wave of protests in 2019.

Mid Year Blues
Russia‘s Moscow witnessed unrest from the month of July. During the 2019 Moscow City Duma Elections, many independent candidates filed cases against violation by authorities as those candidates were not allowed to participate in the elections. Several people joined the protests to More than 1000 protestors were detained.

In September, protests broke out in Egpyt as citizens wanted to oust President Sisi and his authoritarian government. Pro-Sisi and Anti-Sisi clashes saw protestors coming out in the streets. Nearly 4000 arbitrary arrests were made by the Egyptian authorities. International Communities condemned the arrests. The government resorted to internet shutdown to curb the protests.

Protests paced up exponentially in the second half of the year. All the protests, more or less, revolved around raising voice against the government. Protests that began as dissent against price hike or political actions took the shape of anti-establishment protests. The tide of protest that also engulfed other world nations appears to be an exponential version of the Arab Spring.

Curiopedia

The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, starting with protests in Tunisia. The wave of initial revolutions and protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators and militaries. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases. Large-scale conflicts resulted: the Syrian Civil War; the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war; the Egyptian Crisis, coup, and subsequent unrest and insurgency; the Libyan Civil War; and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war. Regimes that lacked major oil wealth and hereditary succession arrangements were more likely to undergo regime change. More Info