Mass protests are continuing in Hong Kong in a bid to stop China’s looming shadow from engulfing the autonomous island. Hong Kongers have been resisting Beijing’s attempts since last year.
It was here that China announced a proposed Extradition Bill, in which criminals in Hong Kong wanted in China could be seized and shipped off to the mainland.
The possibility of this sent shockwaves through Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
More recently, at the beginning of the month, in a string of new laws proposed by China, a bill was passed that makes insulting the national anthem in Hong Kong a crime.
It came as part of new security laws that would curb freedoms in Hong Kong, making it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority.
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It hinted at China’s intention to include the island in its aggressive expansionism, its continued slide towards totalitarianism.
This taste for total control has, in the past century, tainted China’s politics and diplomacy.
The Chinese Revolution of 1949 led to the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Using the veil of communism, Mao Zedong began a campaign of total control.
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Something similar has, ever since, been in place.
Hong Kong is meant to be an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, having special freedoms and privileges that the mainland does not.
The island was controlled by Britain from 1842, with the colonial power pledging to return it to China in 1997.
This happened and the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, in 2017 revealed how he “regretted” not pushing China further on democracy when handing over Hong Kong.
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In 2017, The Daily Telegraph reported how concerns had been raised by pro-democracy groups over what will happen after 2047, when the one country two system rule that supposedly protects rights and freedoms in the city expires.
The concerns bloomed as, three years later, Hong Kong is fighting to keep its democracy and sovereignty.
Mr Patten said in 2017: “I don’t think that we sold out people in Hong Kong by not going beyond 2047. Fifty years is a long time.
“Ninety-nine years is a long time, as we discovered in 1997.”
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He told The Daily Telegraph of his regrets in not helping to push China more on its political promises over Hong Kong.
He said: “I think after the Joint Declaration was agreed, I think we should have been much more active in pushing the case for democracy, or a faster pace of democratisation in Hong Kong.”
Mr Patten appeared prophetic in his comments over China’s understanding of the one country two systems rule, doubting whether Chinese officials had actually “thought through what it means”.
He added: “I think that there is a shortage of knowledge and a paucity of imagination about that.”
Extradition Bill: Hong Kongers have been protesting since last year
The UK has attempted to fill this democratic vacuum.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would allow Hong Kongers who hold British National (Overseas) (BNO) passports to come to the UK without a visa.
Some 2.6 million others who did not hold BNO passports but are eligible will also be permitted to travel to Britain.
China reacted furiously to the news.
In response to the Foreign Office’s 6-month report on Hong Kong, the party’s mouthpiece, The Global Times, retorted that Britain’s economy faces “substantial damage” should the UK government not change its course on Hong Kong.