In the past one month, Hong Kong the iconic city of international commerce, finance, shipping and others logistics has been in turmoil, with extremist radicals wreaking havoc on its reputation. By now, it is obvious to any discerning person that the sustained protest by extremist radicals, has little to do with the proposed amendment of legislation on fugitive offenders ordinance and the mutual legal assistance in criminal matters ordinance by the Hong Kong legislative council.
The proposed piece of legislation actually had its origin in the instance of a Hong Kong resident, who allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan and fled back to the Hong Kong. Against the background of the heinous crime, Hong Kong special Administration Region HKSAR which has no jurisdiction over the case took the decision to amend the aforementioned ordinances that would allow it to cooperate with the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan on extraditing criminal suspects and fugitives on individual cases through special arrangement.
This seemingly piece of innocuous legislation to seamlessly network national crime prevention and apprehension of criminal suspects was just all it takes to orchestrate violent disruption of one of the world’s most stable and prosperous cities. Even as the Hong Kong authority has decided to withdraw the proposed legislative amendment to further consult more widely and extensively, the qurstiin rrmain why are the protesters turning more violent and even more desperate.
As at last count they have invaded the Hong Kong legislative council chamber and thoroughly vandalized its facilities, turned against the building that houses the offices of their central government and wantonly desecrated the insigna of their national government and in addition massively provoked the local police by invading their headquarters.
Ordinarily, there is nothing, the Hong Kong residents would want than the continuous prosperity, stability and efficient governance of their city and the fact that Hong Kong has grown even more fabulously prosperous since its return to the embrace of their Chinese motherland in 1997, the question is simply, who beats the drum for disruption of the city. Prior to the return of Hong Kong in 1997 to its Chinese homeland after more than hundred years of British colonial domination, a famous American International business magazine, Fortune on 25th of June, 1995 published a special issue with the screaming headline “The death of Hong Kong”. In the article, the magazine wrote “it’s time to stop pretending. Supposedly, Britain’s handover in less than 750 days of Hong Kong, the world’s most aggressively pro-business economy to China, the world’s largest still officially communist dictatorship, is going to be non event… what’s indisputably dying, though is Hong Kong’s role as a vibrant international commercial and financial hub”.
Ten years after Hong Kong returned to the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China, the same Fortune Magazine published a lead article on June 28, 2007 with a headline that “Oops! Hong is hardly dead”. In the article, it wrote, “well, we were wrong. In advance of the handover of Hong Kong to China, Fortune wrote a cover story for its international editions. “The Death of Hong Kong” (June 29, 1995) predicting that under Chinese rule Hong Kong would lose its role as an international commercial and financial hub. Yet ten years after the handover on July 1st 1997, Hong Kong is far from over and hardly dead.”
Twenty years after its decolonization, Hong Kong has largely prospered but the recent event of extremist radicals holding the city by the jugular through disruptive and violent protests pose the real danger to the future of Hong Kong than the earlier paranoid of the Western political establishment and media about the prospects of the city under the sovereignty of the Peoples Republic of China,
Like the arbitrary grab of most of Africa through colonial conquest, Hong Kong was seized by the British, when it launched the opium war against a weak China under the corrupt and feeble Qing dynasty in the 1840s. In 1842, the Qing dynasty having been defeated by the British was forced to sign the treaty of Nanjing which ceded the Hong Kong Island to London.
Again, 1856 the Anglo-French allied forces waged the second opium war and compelled the Qing dynasty to sign the Treaty of Beijing which transferred the Kowloon Peninsula. And in 1898, the British further forced the weak Qing dynasty to sign the “convention for the extension of Hong Kong territory” through which the territory was “leased”| to Britain for 99 years. Even after modern China was founded in 1949, the unified national leadership of the new China with the Communist Party of China at the core, deferred the question of Hong Kong, even when it has the military capability and political will to abrogate the humiliating treaties and take back the territory by force.
However, with the concerns for stability of Hong Kong and welfare of its residents China followed through the 99 years “lease” of the territory. And to assuage the concerns of the international community and Hong Kong residents about the future of the territory, its stability and prosperity, the Chinese Central government adopted the unique and the epochally imaginative approach of “one country, two systems”, to guarantee the unique way of life and system of Hong Kong as it returned to China’s sovereignty at the expiration of the 99 years of “lease” to Britain. The “one country, two system” simply implied that while the mainland is avowedly “Socialist”, the Hong Kong special administration region can maintain its capitalist system.
Onunaiju, is director Centre for China Studies, (CCS) Utako Abuja.