Despite limited popular support for independence, Beijing has painted the democracy movement in the city as separatists and secessionists to discredit them, as well as enact national security laws. From the moment that the question of Hong Kongs future status was first raised in discussions with Britain in the late 1970s, China has stated that it will adhere to the principle of one country, two systems, that is, that Hong Kong, under Chinese sovereignty, will retain a distinct identity, a market-oriented economic system, and a distinctive lifestyle. Under the one country, two systems doctrine, mainland China has allowed Hong Kong to continue to rule for 50 years and to retain a number of separate systems. Despite promises that a “one country, two systems” system would persist following Britains 1997 handover to China, the territory has witnessed a steady erosion of democracy and the rule of law.
Despite the promise that one country, two systems would continue after the British handover of the territory to China in 1997, Hong Kong has witnessed its independence being steadily chipped away. In 1984, the British and Chinese governments signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which stated that the sovereignty of Hong Kong was to be transferred to China on July 1, 1997, and Hong Kong was to enjoy a high degree of self-government, in accordance with one country, two systems. Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of China (SARs) that enjoys a certain degree of autonomy as a part of the Peoples Republic of China, guaranteed by Article 2 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which was ratified under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Hong Kong is an independent customs territory and economic entity, separated from the PRC, and is free to separately negotiate international agreements on trade, economics, and some legal matters, as per the Basic Law.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China, which has been broadly free to run its affairs independently, under one country, two systems, the national unification policy developed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. David Gray/Reuters The first Hong Kong chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, smiles during Hong Kongs special administrative regions inauguration, Hong Kongs official transfer of power from the British government to Beijing, July 1, 1997. In May 2020, following publication of a national security law solution to Hong Kong, US Congressman Scott Perry proposed legislation to authorize the president to recognise Hong Kongs special administrative region of the Peoples Republic of China as a separate, independent nation, among other purposes. In the 2016 Legislative Council election, six pro-independence activists, including Hong Kong native Edward Leung and Hong Kong National Partys Chan Ho-tin, were disqualified by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), in which the territorys government argued that their pro-independence stance did not comply with Article 1 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, and the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap.
With greater freedom came a growing pushback against Taiwans claims of being the legitimate government of all China, as well as pro-independence sentiment. Although it was no longer officially recognized by the U.S. or other powers, Taiwan began liberalizing during the 1970s and 1980s. The British government responded to rising popular sentiment with measures designed, on one hand, to increase confidence in the British governments protection of the interests of the Hong Kong populace, and, on the other, to preserve good relations with China.
The concern, of course, is that the government in Beijing has not stamped either of those values onto its legal system, and the news stories on legal practices that have emerged over the years have, in effect, destroyed any real prospect of fair trials should the suspects be arrested and extradited to the mainland. Today, though, one nations long-term prospects remain uncertain because of Chinas increasingly strong-arm assertiveness over control and influence over Hong Kong. Despite remaining, the Chinese central governments interests in ensuring the rule of law essential for a global financial center, in enforcing its international commitments, and the permanence of the Taiwan question will guarantee One Countrys longevity until, and perhaps beyond, 2047.
The best prospects for Hong Kong are in the fact that continued prosperity for the territory is in Chinas interests, and the Chinese leadership is eager to make Hong Kong a case study or test case for Chinese leadership efforts toward unification with Taiwan, as well as for its overall foreign relations. Integrating Hong Kong will be one of the critical tasks facing China as it attempts to manage the social and political consequences of the countrys ongoing economic transition, and it will challenge the political will of reformers, who might find that the issue is being used by conservative elements within the party and military in order to restore political ascendancy.
Jessica Mahlbacher says that the rule of law is a very fundamental value to Hong Kongers, that rule of law is really important, more so than democracy, more so than any other thing. Hong Kongers are mostly free to say what they think, to worship however they want, to gather, to organise, to travel. Political groups capitalized on the phenomenon that an increasing number of people saw themselves as Hong Kongers, or Hong Kongers-in-Beijing, in contrast to the identification with Chinese nationhood. Outspoken Hong Kongers may be targeted because of their political activism, but businesspeople, who might have fallen foul of different factions in recent years, may also have been targeted.