The Country with a Fifty Year Expiration Date
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (HKSAR) will begin its election for the country’s 7th legislative council on the 19th of December this year. While the people of Hong Kong are still hoping for this new legislative term to resolve problems like the increasing pollution, poor waste management and the age long housing crisis, the threat of a complete Chinese takeover looms over the city. Here with more on this is Perspectoverse's Arya Pradhan, going over the details and how they are going to affect the upcoming election.
During the year of 1997, the 99-year-lease the British government had signed with China had come to an end, and as per the agreement the Island of Hong Kong was to be given back to the Chinese government. But 156 years of British influence had given the island a unique culture and the denizens demanded they have control over how their country should run. While the Chinese government couldn’t allow complete autonomy, they signed a 50-year lease with Hong Kong which gave them semi-control over their affairs and also entitled them to rights which the Chinese mainland citizens didn’t have like the right to vote and the freedom of speech and expression. But as we have seen in recent years China is blurring the definition of semi autonomous and is slowly trying to take over the whole country.
While the citizens of Hong Kong have been successful in slowing down this takeover by protesting unjust Chinese policies in the past, like preserving freedom of speech in 2003 and preserving the right to vote in 2014, the situation has only gotten worse for the country since then. With the proposal to introduce an extradition treaty between the two countries and the Chinese government constructing a sea bridge between them, it seems like Hong Kong is losing control of its own territory.
ThisThe situation became more dire earlier this year when the Hong Kong legislature passed a bill which reduced the strength of public vote and added more value to the votes of Pro Beijing law makers. was done by reducing the number of seats held by Hong Kong from 35 to only 20, while the officials from Beijing retained their 40 seats. The amendment in seats held by each representative will allow China to pass their laws with more ease.
The passing of this bill also allows Chinese Officials to run security checks on all the candidates from Hong Kong and if they feel any of them are not ‘patriotic’, they can stop them from running. The reason given by Beijing officials for this rule is so that they can ensure the loyalty of all the candidates. Some have also pointed out that the Hong Kong officials who weren't happy about passing this bill did little to nothing to try and stop it. While until last year these officials broke out into long filibusters in order to stall the passing of such laws, this time they didn't do anything.
Although this is a dreadful situation on its own, it's getting worse. The Chinese government has gained a majority control in Hong Kong’s legislature but they aren’t stopping there. To suppress the people’s voice and reduce the power in people’s protests they have charged Joshua Wong (a pro-democracy advocate who helped in the 2014 protests) and Jimmy Lai the founder of Apple daily news paper, with baseless accusations.
The worst part is not even international powers are able to help the country. Even the United States Secretary of State issued a statement calling out Chinese officials to drop charges against the protesters and also saying that the new bill stops the citizens of Hong Kong from meaningful participation in their own government affairs, but this did not change the situation.
In the end Hong Kong is slowly losing the hope of being an Independent nation, and with the elections coming soon, who knows how many more unjust policies will be imposed upon them. The country was supposed to enjoy semi autonomy until the year 2047 but given the current situation it looks like the people of Hong Kong will lose their nation to China a lot sooner.
Written by Arya Pradhan
Illustrated by Nishtha Dayal