Why Hong Kong’s #UmbrellaRevolution is unlikely to move Beijing

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has taken its all-too-familiar stand on the issue of unrest in Hong Kong remaining consistent with its standard approach to managing and negotiating issues of sovereignity over its territories.

“I’d like to reiterate that Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, and Hong Kong affairs fall entirely within China’s internal affairs,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference.

“We urge relevant countries to be prudent in words and deeds, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs in any way, and do not support the illegal activities such as the ‘Occupy Central’ nor send any wrong signal,” she said in the briefing, the transcript of which was uploaded on the foreign ministry website.

umbrella_revolution_hong_kongFair enough. Today’s Hong Kong residents just happen to be unlucky enough to have been born at the wrong time at the wrong place. Hong Kong is part of Chinese territory. The deal surrounding Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories was progressively sealed between the British Empire and China over the years since 1842 albeit under foggy circumstances considering some of the lines drawing these agreements were blurred by the onslaught of changed circumstances brought about by time.

Hong Kong’s territory was acquired from three separate treaties: the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, the Treaty of Beijing in 1860, and The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory in 1898, which gave the United Kingdom (UK) the control of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon (area south of Boundary Street), and the New Territories (area north of Boundary Street and south of the Shenzhen River, and outlying islands), respectively. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity. Control over the New Territories, on the other hand, was a 99-year lease.

As the end of the term of the 99-year lease on the New Territories approached, then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher negotiated with her counterpart in the PRC Deng Xiaoping for an extension citing the terms of the original agreements. But Deng took the view that those treaties were entered into under “unfair and unequal” terms with China, at the time, situated at the wrong end of the British Empire’s cannons. So, understandably, he then took the position that there was no room for compromise on the PRC’s stand that Hong Kong and Kowloon despite being leased “in perpetuity” under those agreements will also be subject to recovery by the PRC when the lease on the New Territories expired in 1997.

Deng was said to have told Thatcher bluntly that China could easily take Hong Kong by force, stating that “I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon”.

And therein at that point in recent history lies the bottom line. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can simply march in and crush the Umbrella Revolution. Tomorrow. Hong Kong may be important to China economically. But it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, irreplaceable. The Hong Kong economy accounts for only 3 percent of China’s economy. And at the rate the Chinese economy expands annually (thanks, funny enough, to the generous investments of the “free world” economies), it can simply “grow” another Hong Kong within less than a year.

The Economistexplains” (rather lamely) that, even if so, Hong Kong remains “vital” to China citing that it is an important “staging post” for equity investments in the mainland but, at the same time, admitted that “much of this money is simply passing through.”

That rosy picture is debatable at best. Regardless of where or what these “staging posts” for investment money pouring into China are, the whole world’s investment community salivates over the treasures available for the picking in the vast Chinese market. With or without Hong Kong, investors will find a way to establish their presence in the Middle Kingdom. A huge and switched-on expat and ethnic Chinese community based all over the region already serve as such alternative conduits for cash and equity inflow into the PRC. The feared mass exodus of everything Hong Kong into Singapore will simply mean that Singapore will become — what else? — the new Hong Kong. Beijing wins just the same.

Thus Beijing is unlikely to back down on its position regarding the future “autonomy” of Hong Kong. If it can take the same non-negotiable position with foreign countries such as how it does with its claims to territories in the South China Sea, certainly a rogue territory within it will be no match to the PRC’s resolve to consolidate its power over its assets. Indeed, China has long long been renowned for its ability to outstare even its most powerful foes. If Beijing will not parachute in the PLA to finish the job tomorrow, it can choose to take an equally effective approach: simply wait for the protest movement to starve to death.

Realising China’s resolve to recover Hong Kong in 1982, Thatcher warned Deng back then: “there is nothing I could do to stop you [from taking these territories by force], but the eyes of the world would now know what China is like.” Ask China if it cares. The governments of the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, et al — claimants to the contested South China Sea territories China is progressively annexing — already know the answer to that question.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

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19 Comments on “Why Hong Kong’s #UmbrellaRevolution is unlikely to move Beijing”

    1. Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, the United Kingdom and China both agreed Hong Kong would revert back to Chinese control in July 1997. It also specified the policies under which the city would be governed after the handover to Beijing. To-day, Hong Kong lives under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle — IT ALREADY ENJOYS A HIGH DEGREE OF AUTONOMY with regards to its domestic affairs as stated in the declaration. Foreign affairs and defence are under the purview of Beijing. This arrangement was to be maintained for 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty. Annex I of the treaty states that the Chief Executive of Hong Kong would eventually be selected either by direct election or through consultations with a legislature that would be chosen through elections.

      In conjunction with the Joint Declaration, the Hong Kong Basic Law was drafted and it is this document which details how the former colony would be governed. The Socialist government would not be extended to Hong Kong. Instead, the territory would continue its previous capitalist system and way of life for a period of 50 years after 1997. Hong Kong would retain responsibility for running its own domestic affairs including, but not limited to, the judiciary, immigration and customs, public finance, currency, and extradition. Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law prescribed that the Chief Executive would eventually be elected through universal suffrage.

      On 31 August 2014, China’s Twelfth National People’s Congress set limits for the 2016 Legislative Council and 2017 Chief Executive elections, not previously included in the Basic Law. They imposed a new standard, namely, that the Chief Executive shall be a person who ‘loves’ the country and ‘loves Hong Kong.’ Furthermore, ‘the method for selecting the Chief Executive by universal suffrage must provide corresponding institutional safeguards for this purpose.’ For the 2017 election, a ‘nominating committee,’ similar to the present Election Committee system, would be formed to nominate two to three candidates for the position of Chief Executive. Each candidate must receive the support of more than half of the members of the nominating committee. After the popular election of one of the nominated candidates, the Chief Executive-elect will have to be confirmed by the Central People’s Government. The process of forming the 2016 Legislative Council would remain unchanged. However, following the new process for the election of the Chief Executive, a new system to elect the Legislative Council would be formulated with the approval of Beijing.

      These electoral reforms touched off the protests. Pro-democracy advocates consider the proposals a curtailment of the 50 year autonomy that was promised to Hong Kong upon its return. Quite understandably, they fear candidates seen as unsuitable by Beijing would have no chance of being nominated — a betrayal of democratic principles. In response, ‘Occupy Central’ organised civil disobedience protests, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and the student pressure group Scholarism staged a coordinated class boycott and initiated public rallies and street assemblies. (Contrary to the absurd claims by some quarters, there was no mention of tuition fee increases or the high cost of living.)

      1. @ Saint, you think you are so smart, don’t you? “Some quarters”? Just because you went to Wikipedia and looked up a few laws doesn’t mean you now what is happening in the streets of Hong Kong.Surely you do not.

        Question: When was the last time you were in Hong Kong? I’d bet you have never even been outside of the Philippines.YES?

        As I mentioned in the previous article’s comment sections to Benigno, I attached a link to only ONE of many that are available that are a bit more credible than the MSM (IDC if you know what the acronym is/stands for.) reporting’s/outright lies on what has actually transpired in the streets of Hong Kong as well as why they have transpired. It will not be repeated as I do not do such things as repeat myself.
        Certainly not for you.

        A sorrowful state of affairs, the Philippines. As it is limited by the MSM and strict visa laws which practically imprison those who can not pay the extortionate fee’s for an exit visa, and lacking petitioner.However the smug assertions by which you label other’s comments prevents any sort of empathic sentiments to be ventured in your direction. For as absurd as you found my comments, it is only to your detriment(and believe me, IDGAS about what you think you know.). Your misunderstanding of facts as they exist only serves to keep you fooling yourself, apparently there is no need for others to do so as you do a fine job of that all by yourself.

        Yes. It is a certainty:You are being laughed at and, most likely, due to your many idiocies, do not even know why.

        1. VERY interesting that you have to constantly convince yourself that you are correct. Even when the government in Beijing and their media mouthpieces acknowledge that the proximate trigger of this ongoing protest was the decision of the National People’s Congress to introduce a vetting procedure to screen candidates for the position of Chief Executive and to require confirmation of the election results by the central government. Undoubtedly, people protesting for democracy is something that grabs one’s attention in the US and Europe. And while the upcoming elections may not be the only reason the people of Hong Kong have taken to the streets, it is undeniable that this infringement on the island’s political freedoms has become integrated with the long-simmering economic and social grievances they have with Beijing.

        2. @Saint, I did not say that the Chinese government did not do as it did. I said the story was hi-jacked.

          You can not just assume things are what you think they are Sonny, and then make completely idiotic remarks about what you THINK is meant by others as a means to support you bankrupt argument. YOU THINK you are smart, but your as dull as the shine on your sneakers….and this I KNOW !

        3. HongKongDong — still desperately trying to convince himself he has the monopoly on truth but is sadly misunderstood by everyone around him.

        4. @ Saint, NO ,no monopoly on anything.
          Stated was that the Western MSM as well as Eastern MSM hijacked the original story and that what started it was far from what is being relayed out to those who weren’t there when it started.

          The Triple R guy knows your as confused and use,what you may think, are big words but he and I may disagree on many things but we both know your clue-less.

          Going to Western cinema’s these days its funny to see that all the bad guys (Movies such as ‘Equalizer’ & ‘November Man’ to name just two ) are Russians, or Chinese, gangsters (‘Sons of Anarchy’& many more). This is not an accident.The media feeds the dis-information. You are too dumb to see. Believe what you like Son.

          The fox is actually inside the hen house, and IDGAS if you know it or not Son.

          ENJOY YOUR PANDESAL and PORRIDGE Numb-One and pray your 2007 Dell doesn’t crap out(theyare good machines)as then you’ll have no one to not impress.

        5. That’s correct. Dong doesn’t really have anything to do with ‘truth.’ Most of Dong’s comments consist of regurgitating specious information found on other sites out of context.

    1. It is sooo bad now, in this corrupted mess of a country:failed economy, un-rivalled poverty, pollution of massive proportions etc etc … that the citizens are being urged by editorial commentators on the National stage to ‘topple the administration’. Despite these calls-to-arms Filipino’s stand , mouth agape, doing nothing but throwing paper, fucking paper!, at Secretaries of the National Cabinet.
      This lackadaisical attitude as well as know-it-all idiots that could never be wrong (like the idiot above that believes everything he reads in the MSM) are the exact reason a country like the Philippines continues to keep plodding along slowly sinking into terminal, smothering poverty for the vast majority(99.8%) and all the while failing to realize how very easily the situation could be corrected. Within mere hours corrections could easily be made to put the country in a completely different direction towards prosperity.
      BUT NO.
      There truly is no hope for this potentially great nation.There just isn’t. Seeing with ones own eyes the staggering lack of any type of openly expressed, seriously stated, dis-satisfaction… all coupled with Filipino’s treating other Filipino’s worse than dogs in Western countries leaves little doubt that this country will flounder along until it is either nuked or swallowed by the Ocean. Get out while you can, coz the country is permanently fucked.Yes, permanently fucked.

  1. It will be like the “Democracy movement”, some years ago. It was crushed in Tienamen Square…the world was outraged. However, it was soon forgotten…

    1. it was not forgotten, you just remembered it.
      People not willing to die in large numbers to effect change is why the Tienamen Square debacle was not avenged.

      Want to know your future? Take a look at what is in your hand.

  2. Ang kaguluhan sa Hong Kong ay magandang balita para sa Pilipinas. Mas mainam na sila ang nagkakagulo kaysa nagkaka-isa. Sana sumali pa ang mga tsekwa sa Taiwan. Para free-for-all na. A cliche quote to end, ” There’s a billion more where they came from ” Muhaha.

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