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Hong Kong democracy just about extinguished

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by MyOrchid, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. MyOrchid

    MyOrchid Established commenter

    July 1st is HKSAR Establishment Day, and marks the handover of administration from the UK to China.

    Despite signing up to a 50 year handover agreement, during which the HK people were promised autonomy and freedom from mainland control over legal and other matters, the National Security Law is due to be imposed by Beijing as early as July 2nd.

    Establishment Day has been marked by demonstrations in HK for the past 17 years, though permission has not been granted for a march this year, the police citing social distancing, obviously. Other large scale gatherings don't seem to cause a problem, however.

    Seven million HK dollars of taxpayer's money is being spent by the government to try to convince HK people that the National Security Law will only be used to sanction "threats to China's sovereignty" and "interference by foreign forces". In other words, whoever they want it to apply to. Obviously, everyone with half a brain doesn't believe a word of this. Any show of defiance is now met by extreme force with riot police routinely spraying paper spray on peaceful demonstrators, members of the press etc.

    Let's hope that the UK, and other governments, do not forget the people to whom they have pledged support as another small spot on the globe falls to the voracious appetite of the CCP and President for Life Xi.
  2. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    After living more than a decade in China, I am not surprised they’d do what they are doing. But I was very hopeful. HK was a sanctuary from china in the 90’s. Although I loved the challenge and appreciated our experience, their system isn’t really for everyone, especially the Hong Kongers.
  3. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    'Let's hope that the UK, and other governments, do not forget the people to whom they have pledged support as another small spot on the globe falls to the voracious appetite of the CCP and President for Life Xi.'

    Was always going to happen and anyone who thinks differently really doesn't understand the nature of communist parties in general or the CPC in particular.

    Historical perspective: Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, South Vietnam 1975, and those are just the ones that leap to mind.
  4. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    I realise that my previous post was a bit one sided and failed to mention the weakness and lack of political will on the side of the western governments involved. In the case of HK what on earth can the UK do apart from make a few empty gestures.
    24hours likes this.
  5. Ms_Love_

    Ms_Love_ Occasional commenter

    Winnie the Pooh has been the worst thing to happen to China after Mao. Turning China into a monocultural wasteland filled with CCP propagandistic education, where the only kind of fun you can have is shopping for poor quality products on Taobao. No social media, no public gatherings, no fusion of multiculturalism in terms of art/culture/entertainment and no discussing the genocide/forced sterilisation of Muslims in the West or the enslavement of a population using mass surveillance to generate a good social credit score.

    HK will just become Shenzhen version 2, with all the above to look forward to. Such a shame.
  6. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Hong Kong democracy just about extinguished

    It was only ignited by us in the first place once we realised we were going to have to hand it over, and then largely just to annoy the mainland Chinese.
  7. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    There was no democracy in HK under UK rule, It was a Crown colony. The Queen was the head of State and it was run by her appointed governor.

    There was a legislative body filled by appointed people, usually business people, property developers, and financiers. Towards the end of the colonial era the Legco, was elected some by direct voting but mostly by an electoral college, based on certain professions' i.e.: all accountants had a representative in Legco. This is why many people HK was "democratic". The Legco could only advise and question the Governor not over rule him or replace him, as had happened in some other ex-colonies such as Australia . There was an appointed body like a "cabinet" called the Exco which again only advised the Governor. There was some local autonomy including; district and urban councils who dealt with very local issues and they too became partly elected during the last few years before reunification with China.

    The last Governor of HK was Chris Patten, a Thatcherite politician. He tried to rush through a democratic system that was skewed towards the election of pro Western politicians. In order to ensure some kind of continuation of their influence after 1997, the British pushed for many peculiar electoral systems. There’s the one constituency two member system to double the effect of the pro-Western plurality vote. There’s also the “new nine constituencies “ to dilute the influence of the elite and the professionals, many of whom were becoming more pro Beijing - naturally.

    Whatever one's view of British rule in HK they never implemented any kind of democratic system until a point when they realised it would be to their advantage to do so. However what they did do was to create, for many people in Hong Kong and around then world, an illusion of democracy.

    N.B. This is not to be considered as a complete and accurate description of HK government 1992-97. :)

    PS: Thatchers commitment to HK and its people can be clearly seen in her attitude to Immigration from HK to the UK,. The people of HK were considered to be British subjects but not British citizens, the main political reason was to prevent the vast majority of Hong Kong residents from having any recourse to British assistance (e.g. by claiming consular assistance or protection under an external treaty) after the handover. Most of those who wanted to leave in 1997 went to Vancouver and similar destinations such as; Singapore, the US, Australia etc.
  8. MyOrchid

    MyOrchid Established commenter

    While I agree that HK has never had true democracy, it did have rule of law and an independent judiciary. These no longer exist.
    agathamorse, T0nyGT, worlo24 and 2 others like this.
  9. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    The law is so broad, vague and ill-defined (deliberately) that many topics covered in schools could be in breach of the law. Simple school democratic processes could be interpreted as breaking the law. I think we will have to look carefully at our curriculum and watch what we say from now on; normal topics such as looking systems of government could be seen as having “ulterior motives”.

    It is unlikely (but possible) that international teachers will fall foul of the laws but I really worry for the future of many of the children we teach.

    As if we don't have enough to worry about this year.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Is Hong Kong part of China or not? If it is part of China, then I do not see why it is so unfair or unreasonable for the government in Beijing to insist on similar laws in Hong Kong as there are in the rest of China. And why is there such a big fuss about HK, but there is none about SZ or GZ? Okay, so HK used to be a British colony. Well, quite a lot of places all around the world used to be British colonies at one point (India and America, for example). I am sure that many Hongkongers are fed up with the protests, the vandalism and the bad publicity that their city has received as a result of all of the disruption.
    TeacherMan19 and TusitalaH like this.
  11. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Is this an issue in International Schools in mainland China ? It could be when I worked in the Gulf (one of the joys of returning to London), but I'd not heard about it happening in China.
  12. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    No denial that Hong Kong it is part of China. Hong Kong has established Common Law and the 1997 handover 50 year treaty was agreed to allow that to prevail. This has been called a 'historical document' and superceded by the new law. It was obvious to all that the true power lies north of the border but the pretence has been removed. Locals (and really everyone globally according to the law) can be prosecuted. I am sure you are right and the protests from everyone here, the international community, human rights organisations etc are uncalled for and just a fuss about nothing...

    There has been very heavy-handed arrests of students, policing of schools (literally police vans at the school gates), local teachers vilified for incorrect thoughts and opinions. A recent scandal over a question on an exam paper. There is a high level of scrutiny and a close watch for subversive activity. What gets classified as subversive? Hard to tell. The problems here are seen as arising from Western influence and thinking. International schools are about as western as it gets. I don't know if we will be required to raise the flag and play the national anthem- local schools are. It's all new and I'm treading carefully.
  13. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    Well, in the 1842 Treaty of Nanking Hong Kong (island) was ceded in perpetuity to Britain.... ;)

    When handover discussions began, the PRC made clear that it wasn't just the New Territories that were expected back in 1997 but Kowloon and Hong Kong too. Obviously, the military balance of power was a bit different by then.
    agathamorse and clovispoint like this.
  14. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    True but the lack of a water supply sort of precluded the maintenance of Empire.
    SPC2 likes this.
  15. Mitochondria1

    Mitochondria1 Occasional commenter

    Wasn't the whole thing with handing it back over due to the expiration of a 99 year lease on Hong Kong, held by the British?
    24hours likes this.
  16. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

  17. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Given how we got HK in the first place, it's not exactly a shocker that they'd want it / take it back. I'm not entirely sure that the 1842 Treaty of Nanking should be mentioned without a certain amount of embarrassment on our part.
  18. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    Agreed, hence the emoticon- thingy, but the anomalous position of HK is hard to understand without mention of it.

    Mind you, Britain might have a case for all that reclaimed land in front of the tram tracks...
  19. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

  20. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Lots of international schools have cameras all over the place. My school in Sofia has oodles of them, but as this is Bulgaria I suspect that they might not be switched on or, if they are, nobody is watching them.

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