This Article on “Hong Kong- Mainland China Conflict: Hanker to Dilute Boundaries” is written by Rahul Negi, a student of Law College Dehradun (Uttaranchal University).
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China and a Metropolitan area situated on Pearl River Delta in the South China Sea. Hong Kong is known for its image as international shopping, financial, and tourist destination, and as the world’s most free economy which differs from other mainland cities. After Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997 by British, Hong Kong emerged as a multi-ethical society with different cultural values and with a separate democratic form of government from Mainland China. The application of the Individual Visit Scheme over Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China in July 2003 began to worsen the situation as waves of Chinese Mainlander settler began to rise at an alarming rate. This badly affects the distribution of resources between the people of Hong Kong and Mainland settlers in different sectors especially in healthcare and education sectors resulting into drift between Mainlanders and citizens of Hong Kong despite sharing same ethnicity and language. The People of China aim to dilute the boundary between Hong Kong and Mainland China by amending Hong Kong’s laws in such a way that could favor the Mainland government and implementation of various policies such as the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and recent enforcement of Security Bill on June 2020 over Hong Kong by People’s Republic of China government which empowers it to shape life in Hong Kong which further fueled the widening gap between citizens of Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese.
HISTORY AND CONFLICT
The dispute between Hong Kong and Mainland China began with the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British with the one country two government arrangements to maintain the autonomy of Hong Kong for 50 years that is till 2047. The People’s Republic of China believes Hong Kong to be its part and since 1997 have implemented various policies and changes in laws of Hong Kong which are favoring the People’s Republic of China government to dilute the boundaries between Mainland China and Hong Kong. However human activities date back to Hong Kong since the Old Stone Age thus a history of Hong Kong can be divided into:
- BEFORE TRANSFER (1997)
Hong Kong came under China for the first time under the Qin dynasty in around 221- 206 BC then under the ancient Vietnam empire followed by various Han Chinese empires which acted towards the development of Hong Kong as a military outpost and trading port for China and the world. The settlers of Hong Kong were from mainland China who came to Hong Kong in various waves dating back to the Mongol period to recent times making the Han Chinese largest ethnic group of the area. The strategic location of Hong Kong and its image as a trading port attracted various foreign powers towards Hong Kong.
1839: I Opium war breaks out between Qing China and British forces after the governor of Hunan.
1841: British forces captured Hong Kong and made it their military satiation.
1842: Hong Kong became a Crown Colony of Britain with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking which gave Britain control over Hong Kong. It marked the end of the I Opium war resulting in the victory of British forces and the defeat of the Qing dynasty of China.
1857: British forces attacked Guangzhou and Tianjin ports cities under the Qing dynasty thus II Opium war breaks out between Qing China and British forces.
1858: British, U.S., France, and Russia signs treaties with China which gave excess to all other foreign powers operating in China to have the same concessions as Britain.
The war officially ended after the Chinese government was disposed and the treaty was ratified by China in 1860.
1859: British forces along with French forces attacked and destroyed the Chinese Capital. The U.S. diplomat John Ward through diplomatic negotiations made China ratify Treaty with the U.S. without using force.
1860: II Opium War ended with British and French victory and ratification of the Treaty.
1890: Hong Kong becomes one of the largest and busiest ports in the world.
1884: Japanese forces attacked the Korean peninsula which was under Chinese suzerainty which resulted in the first Sino-Japanese war.
1885: I Sino-Japanese war ended with Japanese victory and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which ceased Taiwan, Penghu and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan.
1898: II Convention of Perking was signed between Britain and the Chinese government which also included the 99 years leasing of the territories surrounding Hong Kong called New Territories. The new territory included 235 islands.
23 December 1941: Japan occupies coastal areas of China including Hong Kong which resulted in residents fleeing to Mainland China resulting in a population drop.
25 December 1941: Mark Aitchison Young, British Governor of Hong Kong surrender to the Japanese in Japanese Headquarters, and Isogai Rensuke becomes the first Japanese Governor of Hong Kong.
1942: China is joined by western allies against Japan in the war. However, the war continued till 1945 with the defeat of Japan and its surrender to Allied forces.
1945: The British and Chinese forces jointly liberate Hong Kong from Japanese occupation.
1946: Britain due to its strategic significance keeps Hong Kong under its administration and in order to strengthen and decolonize to meet the needs of the people of Hong Kong Young’s Plan was implemented.
1949: The Chinese Civil war ends with the victory of the Communist Party giving it complete control over mainland China while the defeated Nationalist leaders and supporters fled to the Island of Taiwan. Thus Mainland was renamed as the People’s Republic of China and the Island of Taiwan was named the Republic of China.
1950: Due to the communist revolution in China many Mainlanders took refuse in Hong Kong thus providing cheap and skilled labor which became a boom for a revival of Hong Kong’s economy.
1960: This period became the turning point of Hong Kong’s economy as the new manufacturing sector employed a larger section of the population but not everyone was equally paid which resulted in labor disputes. However, it enhanced the living standards of the people in Hong Kong.
1967: Riots broke out in Hong Kong under the influence of the Chinese cultural revolution.
1970: Hong Kong declared one of the Asian Tigers which has an economy based on modern high technology.
1974: The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was constituted by Murray MacLehose, Governor of Hong Kong to eradicate corruption. However, the step was initially opposed by the Police but later, this commission helped Hong Kong became one of the least corrupt states in the world.
1979: Murray MacLehose, Governor of Hong Kong raised the issue of Hong Kong to be returned to China as the lease period was to expire in 1997.
1982: Edward Heath as a special envoy of Britain meets Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping for the discussion over Hong Kong’s future after the handover of Hong Kong to China. Margaret Thatcher went on first China visit and proposed one country two system arrangements to Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
1984: China and Britain jointly declare that Hong Kong would be officially returned to China on June 30, 1997, at midnight. A Law Drafting committee comprising of 58 members formed to constitute a new constitution for Hong Kong called Basic Laws.
1989: The call for democratic safeguards was called after the massacre in Tiananmen square of pro-democratic supporters.
1990: Final draft of Basic laws approved by the Chinese National People’s Congress.
1992: Chris Pattern was appointed as the last British governor of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong stock market takes a huge dip after the news of handing over of Hong Kong to China surfaced as most of the Capitalistic economies were uncertain about the future of Hong Kong under Communist China.
1994: Hong Kong’s legislature brings in new legislation to widen franchise but it lacked universal suffrage.
1995: Elections held in Hong Kong for the new legislature.
1996: China and Britain agree on the handover ceremony.
30 June 1997: British flag lowered and Chinese and Hong Kong rose to signal the handover of Hong Kong officially to China at midnight.
- AFTER TRANSFER (POST 1997)
1 July 1997: Hong Kong becomes Special Administered Region of People’s Republic of China after 156 years of British rule with the arrangement if one country two system arrangement for Hong Kong for the next 50 years.
Tung Chee Hwa becomes Chief Executive of Hong Kong under China.
1998: First elections in Hong Kong under China conducted.
2001: Donald Tsang replaces Deputy Chief Executive Anson Chan after he formally resigns under Chinese pressure.
2002: 16 members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement which is banned in Mainland China but not in Hong Kong are arrested and charged for Public Obstruction during a protest outside of the Liaison office.
A proposal for controversial law is proposed by Tung Chee Hwa administration as Article 23 of the Basic Laws of Hong Kong.
Around 5, 00,000 people began to protect against the controversial law, resulting in the bill being shelved.
2004: Mainland China rules that its prior approval is required to make changes in the election laws of Hong Kong.
Britain accused China of interference in Hong Kong’s self-governance rights. The approval rule of China was protested by 2,00,000 people around Hong Kong.
Elections held in Hong Kong resulting in the majority of Pro-Chinese parties in the Legislative council giving a huge blow to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
2005: Donald Tsang becomes a new Chief Executive after Tung Chee Hwa resigns due to ill health. Hong Kong court declares 8 of the Falun Gong charge-free who was arrested in 2002. A large number of protesters come out to mark the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Killing. 16 years ban imposed over the pro-democratic group from traveling into Mainland China.
2006: A large number of Pro-democracy protesters come out to protest for full democracy.
2007: 10th anniversary of handing over of Hong Kong to China.
Donald Tsang elected as Chief Executive for 5 years and China promised the residents of Hong Kong to choose their own leader by 2017 followed by legislators in 2020.
2008: Pro-Democracy parties secured two-third majority and veto power over Bills.
2009: A march was carried out against the censorship of newspaper and discussion over Tiananmen square.
About 2,00,000 people attended candle marchs to mark the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen square.
2010: Bye-elections resulted in winning of 5 opposition MPs. The Opposition Democratic Party holds talks with the People’s Republic of China for the first time.
2011: Four native Hong Kong festivals of Chow community included in the third national list of china in the UNESCO convention.
2012: Leung Chun Ying was appointed as Chief executive of Hong Kong.
Elections resulted in pro-democratic parties retaining their veto power over bills.
2013: March held in support of Edward Snowden.
2014: Unofficial referendum held in which 90% favored the public say to select a candidate for Chief Executive.
The Chinese government allows democratic elections if candidates are approved by them. Protests held across Hong Kong against the decision.
Thomas Kwok was punished with 5 years of jail in a corruption case.
2015: Protest held against Legislative Councils proposal to reject the next leader in 2017.
2016: Pro-Independence activists win elections.
November 2016: Baggio Leung and Yau Wai Ching are disqualified as they refused their allegiance to China.
Chief Executive CY Leung announces not to contest in future elections.
2017: Donald Tsang punished with 20 months in prison on the accusation of concealing rental negotiations.
Carrie Lam elected Chief Executive.
President Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong in the swearing ceremony of Carrie Lam and warns Hong Kong residents for any attempt against China.
2019: Protest held across Hong Kong against extradition to Mainland proposal resulting in indefinite shelving of proposal.
30 June 2020: China’s new National Security Bill passed and enforced upon Hong Kong empowering China to act against any political misconduct against the Communist Party of China.
01 July 2020: Protest led by Fung and other student leaders protested against the new security bill as it gives decisive powers to China to exercise control over Hong Kong.
The UN, U.S., U.K., and various democratic countries around the world condemned China’s new Security Bill over Hong Kong and raised their various concerns over the autonomous region of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has been part of China, British, Japan, and then again British for various duration finally reuniting with China in 1997 after being part of British for 156 years under one country two system arrangement, still ensuring Hong Kong its autonomy and its citizens’ various rights. However, since handing over of Hong Kong to China has drifted gap between the two as waves of Mainland Chinese are settling in Hong Kong which is resulting in more pressure over the resources and facilities of Hong Kong and various Chinese policies favoring the Mainland government has further fueled the conflict latest of which being New Security Bill enforced over Hong Kong by the Communist government empowering Mainland government to act against any protest or political adversary which gained International community’s attention towards latest development which was condemned by the democratic countries across the world.
- A brief history of Hong Kong since the 1997 handover; Available at: https://www.timeout.com/hong-kong/news/12-events-that-shaped-hong-kong-since-the-1997-handover-062819
- China’s new national security law and what it means for Hong Kong’s future, explained; Available at: https://www.vox.com/2020/7/2/21309902/china-national-security-law-hong-kong-protests-us-sanctions
- Chronology: Timeline of 156 years of British rule in Hong Kong; Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hongkong-anniversary-history/chronology-timeline-of-156-years-of-british-rule-in-hong-kong-idUSSP27479920070627
- Hong Kong profile-Timeline; Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-16526765