International Affairs · Politics

The Troubled Fate of Hong Kong

It is strange that when we skim through our morning papers we just brush from headline to headline without realizing the amount of injustice and violence present in every corner of the world. When such a realization hits we continue to wonder- issues like Kashmir, Palestine and Crimean Crisis are unlikely to be resolved soon, Afghanistan and Pakistan prove the perfect hosts for Al Qaeda and Taliban, the Middle- East continues to see violent outbursts by the public against their respective governments these include countries like Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and many more leading to what is known as the ‘Arab Spring’, the continuing tensions in Syria and Iraq and the sudden rise to power of ISIS, civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, helpless situations in Sudan and South Sudan, Boko Haram terror in Nigeria and so on and so forth.

It is just a matter of time until our mother earth reaches her saturation point and crumbles to such exorbitant amount of violence. Amidst all this there are peacefully countries like Canada, the Scandinavian region, Western Europe and up until a few months ago, South East Asia.

South East Asia is usually the more peaceful yet developing region of the world but the recent tensions in Hong Kong showcase otherwise. Hong Kong, the special administrative region of People’s Republic of China, has a very interesting yet controversial history and present. But after decades of peace and commendable development what is wrong with Hong Kong all of a sudden?

What began as a student sit-in movement exploded in Hong Kong over the last weekend as police responded with excessive force toward peaceful demonstrators, using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. The protests spread from Hong Kong’s financial district to just outside the city’s government offices in Admiralty, but the law-enforcement crackdown had the opposite effect, sending thousands more into the streets in solidarity and shutting down portions of the city. The protests have now bled into the work- week and riot police have pulled back, at least for now.[1]

It all started when China tried to cleverly seize control over its semi- autonomous territory.

Hong Kong was ruled over by the British for about 150 years until it was returned to China in 1997 but on conditions that it will be operated as a semi- autonomous state or so to say, ‘one country but two systems’ and Chinese promised to let citizens of Honk Kong to choose their own leader, Chief Executive, in the 2017 by way of democratic elections instead of the Chinese government choosing their own representative for the position after setting up a committee. But being the undemocratic irritant to its neighbors that China is, China decided that the committee system is still necessary and decided not to hold elections for Hong Kong three year from now. The outrage started building up but it was the youth of Hong Kong that showed first signs of protests. As the matter worsened with times people of Hong Kong are now also demanding the current Chief Executive, <r. Leung Chun- ying to resign.

One of the top three economies in the world, the city is categorized on top as an Alpha+. With that kind of a successful economy the recent uproar is definitely not good news for the economy as well. In fact most sources suggest that the region would soon start to slip into recession. Hong Kong is a global financial centre and a gateway to mainland China but as the pressure to conform with Beijing’s wishes mounts Multinational firms are choosing to opt- out of investing in Hong Kong and expanding their outlook to the broader Pan- Asian Market,[2] favoring Singapore.

Many big companies have even started to shift their Headquarters. Even though Hong Kong’s troubles do not come as a surprise given its controversial relationship with Beijing, companies always had doubts at the back of their minds. General Motors had its Headquarters in Singapore but shifted to Shanghai 10 years ago but knowing the fact that with Hong Kong’s economy China’s could go down as well, GM has shifted back to Singapore.

Beijing’s problem is no rocket- science. The problem is how to implement universal suffrage in the former British Colony as required by the Basic Law while ensuring that China’s influence is still maintained.[3] China repeatedly assured both British and the public of Hong Kong that only people of Hong Kong would rule Hong Kong but back then they also thought that within the next 20 years Beijing’s political vehicle, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Kong Kong (DAB) would have cemented an unassailable position for itself in the heart and minds of the public and the electorate.[4]

What happened instead was totally contrary to Beijing’s beliefs. Many factors played into some being the fact that Beijing handpicked Chief Executives that were never really admired by the public and the current Chief Executive might be the worst one to be chosen yet. Pro- democracy camps were always present in Hong Kong but considering the way Chinese operate in their own country especially what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989 its not shocking the protests were never so heightened before. Clearly now that Beijing knew that DAB will not win the elections, they had to somehow prevent the candidate it did not like from participating and the best way to do that is by amending the Basic Law of Hong Kong and rendering those candidates ineligible.

The biggest mistake committed by Beijing was to misunderstand the public of Hong Kong. They did not realize the power of the youth and thought they could control the public of Hong Kong in the same manner as they control theirs. Many Hong Kong locals wonder if they will end up like Tibet. But it most certain that if thing do not get better soon the tensions would be detrimental to both Hong Kong and China especially economically.

Thus, unless governance improves and the public of Hong Kong regains the confidence that the authorities in Beijing are concerned about their best interests rather than the erosion of rule of law, there is no other manner to stop the wrong that is being committed in Hong Kong.

 

About the Author

Tarang- ImageTarang Nagar

A student of Symbiosis Law School, Noida she has an aptitude for public speaking and likes reading. She has an inclination towards International Law, affairs and economics. When she manages to get spare time she is daydreaming about travelling all over the world.  She is a big novel and movie buff. She has a special interest in taxation law and wants to pursue the same in the future.

 

Endnotes

[1] http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/whats-happening-in-hong-kong-protest-explainer.html

[2] http://www.cnbc.com/id/101963981

[3] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/19/what_wrong_with_hong_kong_three_reasons

[4] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/19/what_wrong_with_hong_kong_three_reasons

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