It’s arguable that the history of democracy in Hong Kong is so short, it never existed.
China never willingly leased Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842. Instead, China lost Hong Kong during the Opium Wars, and later leased adjacent terrorists to the British under duress when, in 1860, at the end of the Second Opium War, the UK gained a perpetual lease over the Kowloon Peninsula, which is the mainland Chinese area just across the strait from Hong Kong Island. This agreement was part of the Convention of Beijing that ended that conflict
In 1898, the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking, which included a 99-year lease agreement for the islands surrounding Hong Kong, called the “New Territories.”
On December 19, 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, in which Britain agreed to return not only the New Territories but also Kowloon and Hong Kong itself when the lease term expired on July 1, 1997. China promised to implement a “One Country, Two Systems” regime, under which for fifty years Hong Kong citizens could continue to practice capitalism and political freedoms forbidden on the mainland.
However, for almost all of its history under British rule, executive power in Hong Kong has been concentrated in the hands of the colony governor, a position appointed by the British crown without any democratic input from Hong Kong citizens. The introduction of elected representatives determined by local elections, even limited to the role of “advisory councils,” did not begin until after the 1984 agreements by the British to hand Hong Kong over to China.
In conclusion, democracy in Hong Kong did not exist under British rule, but the British felt it would be acceptable once Hong Kong was returned to China.
But that history hasn’t stopped media critics in the United States from bashing China for the recent student-led unrest in Hong Kong that has been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution”.
Now, I want to return to the title of this post. It should have said: “The non-existent History of Democracy in Hong Kong”, because Hong Kong has never been a democracy.
Is it possible that the so-called Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong is a deliberate diversion from another truth?
Critics in the United States should be aware of the long history of America’s support for brutal dictators and authoritarian governments, before claiming that the United States supports democracy anywhere.
The previous video is a bit out of date but it still supports the idea that we should never accept what anyone says or claims. Instead, we should pay attention to what they have done and what they are still doing, and the United States has the biggest private-sector weapons industry in the world.
In addition, Global Issues reports: “Heavy militarization of a region increases the risk of oppression on local people. Consequently reactions and uprisings from those oppressed may also be violent. The Middle East is a current example, while Latin America is an example from previous decades, where in both cases, democracies or popular regimes have (or had) been overthrown with foreign assistance, and replaced with corrupt dictators or monarchs. Oppression (often violent) and authoritarianism rule has resulted. Sometimes this also itself results in terrorist reactions that lash out at other innocent people.”
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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