HONG KONG

A FEW WORDS ABOUT HONG KONG


Hong kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China since the Great Britain ceded it to the Republic of China in 1997.

The 2 principal languages are Mandarin and English, because Hong Kong was a British colony during more than 150 years. On top of that, there are 20 500 English people, especially multinational’s workers or contractors, for 7 million inhabitants.

Hong Kong covers approximatively 1 100 km2 and is located in the "Pearl River Delta" which is the wealthiest and the most populated region of South China. The region is divided in 3 parts, the Hong Kong island, the Kowloon and New Territories (which is also an archipelago with islands such as Lamma, Lanteau, Po toi …)

HISTORY


1839
: Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country's economic and political affairs → First Opium War.

1841 : China ceded the island of Hong Kong to the British (Chuenpi Convention).

1842 : China’s Qing Dynasty government defeated : Hong Kong was born. The Treaty of Nanking was signed, agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict.

1928 : Civil War between Communists (CPC) and Nationalists (Kuomintang) in China. But they united themselves in 1937 during the Sino-Japanese War. As Japan was allies of Hitler, The United States decided to back China.

1937 : Because of the Sino-Japanese War, Hong Kong became a refuge for thousands of mainland Chinese fleeing the conflict.

1941 : Japan occupied Hong Kong. Food shortages impel many residents to flee to mainland China. Population droped from 1.6m to 650,000 by the end of the WWII.

1945 : China was 1 of the winners of the WWII. Therefore China became a permanent member at the Security Concil of The United Nations Organization.

1984 : Sino British Join Declaration.

Britain and China agreed upon the handover of Hong Kong to Chinese authority in 1997. In exchange, Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong's capitalist system. And the Basic Law planned to institute the Universal Suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive.

The Chief Executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based upon the concept of "One country, Two systems".

"ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS"


Even if Hong Kong belongs to China, a communist country, it has a different status from the mainland territory. The Chinese government allows the city to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, retaining its capitalist system, independent rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech. Thanks to this autonomy, Hong Kong and China are often associated with the sentence "One country, two systems".

Indeed, Hong Kong has its own
→ legal and political systems
→ economy
→ laws on immigration
→ police : HK Police Force count 30 000 people
→ sport teams : HK participated in Olympic Games with its own flag.

POLITICAL SYSTEM


Hong Kong has its own Constitution called the Fundamental Law of the administrative region of Hong Kong written in 1980 and applied in 1997.

The Hong Kong's Parliament is called the LEGCO (Legislative Council) which counts 70 members elected every 4 years. 35 of them are geographical constituencies and 35 are functional constituencies.

This Council has to examine and approve budgets introduced by the government, to debate the policy etc.

The Chief Executive is today Leung Chun-ying, named by the Chinese President Xi Jinping on May 2012 for 5 years.

LEGAL SYSTEM


The Fundamental Law ensures to Hong Kong a legal and judicial system different from China. Hong Kong doesn’t obey to the national laws of Republic of China but to its own ones. There are several institutions : the High Court and the Appellate Court. Members of those courts are named by the Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.

ECONOMY
AN INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER


Hong Kong has its own economy and currency : the Hong Kong dollar.

The name Hong Kong is an anglicization of Heung Kong which means flagrant harbour in Cantonese. Indeed Hong Kong is the 8th bigger harbour of the world (Shanghai's first). This infrastructure permits Hong Kong to develop a liberal economy with low taxation and free trade. And also to exchange a lot with foreign countries, principally with mainland China but also with the United States and Japan. The market of China is about 665 biliards dollars which represents more than 47% of Chinese’s foreign investments.

This economy is dominated by the service sector which represents 90% of Hong Kong’s Gross Domestic Product.

Hong Kong belongs to the 4 Asian Dragons since the 70’s (with South Corea, Singapore and Taiwan). It means that it has developed into advanced and hight-income economy. The situtation in Hong Kong is wealthier than in mainland China. For instance the GDP per inhabitant in the island is about 38 100$ against 6 700$ in China.

Hong Kong is more and more developing in tourism which was up to here limited. During the first 4 months of the year more than 31 million of tourists visited the territory.

UMBRELLA REVOLUTION


Since the 70‘s we can notice democratic cravings. Students claimed for politic reforms : the Fifth Modernisation. This rise of democratic movement was repressed in 1979 during the First Beijing Spring. 10 years later, in nov 1989, China was hit by Beijing's Tiananmen Square’s events.

16 January 2013 : Benny Tai Yiu-Ting, law professor at the University of HK, initiated an uprising movement. He published an article in which he proposed to organize an act of disobedience in the Central, the business and financial core of HK. The Occupy Central movement was born. It is an uprising against the Chinese government concerning the election of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

In 2017, the elections are supposed to be planned by Beijing. Which means that 2/3 candidates are chosen by a committee under the control of Chinese government. The Occupy Central movement claims for democratic elections. From this date, the movement was officially launched in March 2013 and discussions between members began in June 2013.

January 2014 : a year later Occupy Central organized a vote regarding the election of the Chief Executive of HK. 94 % of the voters favoured "civil nomination" which means that any candidates who obtain the number of signatures required can run for the elections.

June 2014 : An other unofficial vote took place and 1 over 5 citizen of HK voted.

July 2014 : On the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China, 510 000 people gathered to claim for universal suffrage. More than 500 of them were arrested by the police. An over night sitting was organized by students until 8am on Chater Road.

Students of HK represent a movement under the name of HKFS : Hong Kong Federation of Students. They were more than 51 000 in 2006. Their aim is to promote the engagement of students in society. On the twitter account of the federation, the movement is described as "engagement of the construction of a democratic China and the fight for the students’ interest". July events were successful for the pro-democratic organizations of Hong Kong. It led the revolt on the international scene.

August 2014 : An opposite movement counterbalance Occupy Central. The Silent Majority was created and protested against pro-democratic ideas by supporting the Chinese government.

On the 31st of August, the Chinese Government through the China’s National People’s Congress, declared that starting from 2017 a nominatg committee will decide of the candidates for the election of the chief executive. It enhanced the decline of democracy that people of Hong Kong fight for. The Hong Kong government supports Beijing and says Hong Kong people should accept this "offered electoral reform".

September 2014 : 13 000 students from University and secondary school joined the movement, beginning a collaboration with Occupy Central and the HKFS. On the 29th of September, the biggest demonstration so far took place : 50 000, including 41 injured people and 78 arrested people. Police used teargas.

October 2014 : a start of dialogue took place between protestors & Chun-ying Leung, Hong Kong‘s leader in office since 2012. But it collapsed when police used violence to reprimand demonstrations. The protestors announced that they will not leave from streets until lawmakers urge Barack Obama to interfere.

MEDIA

Pro democratic : Apple Daily, Ming Pao
Neutral : The Hong Kong Economic Journal, South China Morning Post
Pro-Beijing : Global Times, Renmin Ribao

Apple Daily – pro democratic not supported by banks as HSBC and forbidden in mainland China.

Ming Pao is a daily newspaper of HK. It is known to be the most reliable one, according to the Chinese University of HK in 2006, and it offers an objective view on the news. However, concerning the Hong Kong uprising, an article written by Sherry Cahn Yuen-Yung adopts a pro-democratic tone. The journalist wonders about the factors of the demonstrations : "is it because students wanted to skip classes and residents wanted to break the routine? Or is it the result of the haughty attitude of the power, for which opinion is its slightest trouble?". At the end of the article she writes "In our fight for a real universal suffrage, let brandish our umbrellas to show our unity".

South china morning post – It is important to know that 2 journalists from this newspaper have been fired in 2002 because they wrote articles with a tone deemed too much "independent". Today, they treat the subject of HK quite objectively with a tendency to defend Beijing. In an article published on the 1st of October, it is said that "Hong Kong have established a system where rights and economical and civic liberties are respected despite the absence of political freedom, and there is no reason to change as it ran very well under british domination".

The Hong Kong Economic Journal appears neutral. Two days after the Chinese government rejection of the people’s demand, the journal droped the column of a pro-democratic journalist, for redesigning reasons. It was seen as a betrayal by the journalist who accused the journal to be under political pressure. But at the same time, the journal does not seem to be censured by the government as an article written by Ki Hsiu-fung talks about police violence in opposition to the peaceful demonstrations.

Global Times, a Chinese english-language newspaper titles “Street movements ruins Hong Kong image" using words as "illicit campaign", "radical opposition forces in Hong Kong should be blamed".

Renmin Ribao is a Chinese newspaper. It supports Beijing and denounces Hong Kong demonstrations, talking about "illegal meetings", "crazy and absurd hostage" "inspired by outrageous motives".

PORTRAIT : JOSHUA WONG

Joshua Wong Chi-fung was 14 when he founded "Scholarism", a student union. He got inspired by the Tiananmen events in 1989. This skinny teen keeps protesting and demonstrating for democracy, challenging the government. Nowadays, a year too young to vote, he leads the movement Occupal Central. His goal ? To pressure China into giving Hong Kong full Universal Suffrage.

Joshua Wong, aged 17, has become a "headache" for the mainland, depicted as an "extremist". Yet, in Hong Kong, he has become a political superstar. He told CNN "You have to see every battle as possibly the final battle - only then will you have the determination to fight."

On September, the activist was arrested and held for 40 hours.

VOCABULARY

Archipelago : archipel
Interference : ingérence.
To flee : fuir
Pledge : promettre, engager
To be shelved : mis à l'écart
Shortage : manque, pénurie
To impel : inciter
Teargas : fumigènes
Launched : lancé
Handover : transmission
To deem : jugé
To betray, to mislead : trahir
GDP : total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year (PIB)


SOURCES


CNN, Libération, The Guardian,  BBC (NewsAsia), discoverhongkong.com, Washington Post, the Sunday Times, Courrier International, Telegraph...

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