Have you ever seen the Hong Kong movie “Chunking Express? This movie made in 1995 and shows us Hong Kong’s mood just before Hong Kong returned to China, such as anxiety that didn’t know reason and a distracted atmosphere. ‘Hong Kong’ was the last product of imperialism and the 99-year lease on the New Territories would end in 1997. Finally in 1997, Hong Kong was newly born as a ‘Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China’ under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. This “One Country, Two Systems” is the logic of Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader during most of the 1980s, and it means that “there is only one country but different economic or political systems are accepted.” As of July 1st, 1997, 20 years have already passed since Hong Kong returned to China. To understand “One Country, Two Systems” and relations between China and Hong Kong, we need to take a closer look.
Why Hong Kong Belonged to England?
In June 1840, a large fleet of British attacked China. It was the beginning of the Opium War. Britain smuggled opium into China to fill the trade deficit caused by the industrial revolution. As the demand for opium in China increased rapidly, China strictly regulated the opium trade, and then England created an opium war under the rationale that they were altering trade standards. As a result, China suffered a disastrous defeat, and in the aftermath of the war, China entered into the Treaty of Nanjing. “Hong Kong is ruled by England” is one of THE contents of Treaty of Nanjing. At first, China was deprived of Hong Kong Island, but since there was a dense population and drinking water problem, England leased the New Territories from China to support Hong Kong for 99 years. This “new territories” surrounded most of the area in Hong Kong, so it represented a ‘complete division of Hong Kong from China’
The Procedure of Hong Kong Being Returned to China
After England and China established diplomatic relations in 1972, they began negotiations in 1982 for the handover of Hong Kong. At first, England tried to request an extension time for the return. However, Deng Xiaoping showed a firm attitude. He claimed that the ‘Treaty of Nanjing’ was unequal from the first, because it was concluded under the force of England, so England had to give Hong Kong back. He also reacted strongly: “If England didn’t return Hong Kong, China would cut off the power supplying Hong Kong. Yet, by coming up with the solution called “One Country, Two Systems”, he convinced England. His “One Country, Two Systems” was as follows: “Even though Hong Kong will become part of China, its independent system (of capitalism and democracy) will be accepted for 50 years.” It said that Hong Kong’s sovereignty can be recognized. Therefore, England agreed with that suggestion, then in 1984, two countries issued a joint statement, called “Agreement on the Return of Hong Kong.” According to the statement, Hong Kong was to be returned to China as of July 1st, 1997.
After July 1st, 1997
It seems that China regards Hong Kong as being a part of, yet separate from China for the moment, because they said that regarding the return of Hong Kong, “Hong Kong was finally returned to its homeland.” On July 1st, 2017, the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong, Xi Jingping’s speech showed a similar context. He said, “Through the handover of Hong Kong 20 years ago, we could diminish a 100-year humiliation and step off on the right foot for realizing complete unification.”
Hong Kong, Changing Like China
First, China has tried to intensify the “education for patriotism” in Hong Kong. This is for the people in Hong Kong to have an identity that they think of themselves as Chinese. In 2012, the Chinese government tried to introduce “patriotic education” to Hong Kong’s students. To Hong Kong’s people, who are much more familiar with the time when they lived under British rule, they are unfamiliar with learning the way of drawing the Chinese national flag. Therefore, many Hong Kong residents showed opposing views, so the Chinese government withdrew it. However, recently, the Hong Kong government has become close with China. It seems that “education for patriotism” will become more intensified than before.
Also, in non-education fields, Hong Kong is changing like China. First of all, Language In Hong Kong, English and Cantonese are used extensively, but after the return of Hong Kong, becoming much closer with Hong Kong, Putonghua which is the Chinese standard language, has become a necessary thing to get a job. It is compared with that, in the past, people using Putonghua were ignored because of coming from China. Additionally, in Hong Kong, the renminbi, which is Chinese currency, has been widely used since the return of Hong Kong. For that reason, after the handover of Hong Kong, there are many Chinese tourists in Hong Kong (a 444 percent increase in tourists compared with the past)!
Things that Hong Kong People Have In Their Mind.
After the handover of Hong Kong, contrary to lots of people’s expectations that Hong Kong’s autonomy to court and administration will be completely guaranteed, the Chinese government interjected Hong Kong’s Chief Executive-elect and tried to extend its “Chinese power.” Some groups in Hong Kong continually protested for a direct election system, and then the Chinese promised to implement direct election system in the Chief Executive-elect from 2017. However, in 2014, the Chinese government changed their attitude. They said that only people who are recommended by Chinese government can be a candidate for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Many Hong Kong’s residents reacted against the Chinese government, and then in September 2014, democracy protests took place in Hong Kong, called the “Umbrella Revolution.” Many demonstrators argued for direct election of the Chief Executive. In this protest, more than 100,000 people gathered to resist, but the scale of protest had decrease gradually caused by protracting. Although this protest ended in failure, it has a meaning as informing people that there are many weak points in the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.
Polarization and Real Estate Prices Rising Sharply
In Hong Kong, polarization and real estate problems are also serious. Compared with before the handover of Hong Kong, these problems become much bigger, and some argue that Hong Kong is negatively influenced by China. In the case of Hong Kong, the Gini coefficient, which represents income inequality, recorded 0.533 in 2015 compared with 0.477 in 1996. Also, after many Chinese bought larger amounts of real estate in Hong Kong, its prices have been rising sharply in recent years. For this reason, Hong Kong’s Price-to-Income Ratio (PIR) became 13.5 (this figure is higher than London, Tokyo and New York). Anti-Chinese sentiment has grown since the “Umbrella Revolution.”
Remaining Silence or Welcoming
There were also pro-Chinese demonstrations against the “Umbrella Revolution.” They suspected why anti-Chinese demanded a direct election system which wasn’t in existence under British rule. There are still many people remaining silent in Hong Kong. They aren’t concerned with any decision so long as they can keep their jobs and live as usual. Moreover, many businessmen and the privileged classes support China, because they benefited greatly from their exchanges with China. In this election of the Chief of Executive, the electoral college was made up of doctors and entrepreneurs, and finally, Carrie Lam, a member of the pro-Chinese, won the election.
The Meaning of “One System, Two Countries” in the World
The first time people hear about this system, many think this is fair treatment for each entity. However, China has intervened in many things in Hong Kong, showing typical examples of a powerful nation’s relationship with a relatively small nation. Also, their coexistence has given lessons to South and North Korea, the only divided nation. These two nations have also been separated for more than 60 years. Therefore, there is an opinion that an unexpected full consolidation can be difficult. These people who argue that opinion said that instead of complete unification, if South and North Korea seek the system like “One Country, Two Systems”, they will be able to merge gradually.
It has been 20 years since the red flag with five stars was hung in Hong Kong instead of the Union Jack. “One Country, Two Systems” has attracted many countries’ attentions with how two groups will be able to coexist in another system. Through the figure of Hong Kong residents’ showing after the handover, ’99 years’ is the time that can change many things. It is crucial for China and Hong Kong to recognize these differences and keep continuing their relations with their arms wide open< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >