Hong Kong is doomed.
To begin with, it was ripped away from mainland China as compensation after the Opium War. I mean, there were the British (or its subjects) bringing opium into China and making addicts of them to the point that China cracked down on these “businesses” that the British naturally didn’t like and, went to war for. For all their trouble, they got Hong Kong. Fine, it was called a lease…for 99 years, which might as well be another way of saying “forever.”
Then there’s the people in Hong Kong. Most of them fled from China during the civil war between Mao’s communists and Chiang’s nationalists. Mao won that one; so, the rich ran to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Over time, Taiwan and Hong Kong prospered while China floundered along in the shadows.
Then, of course, empire fell out of style and Hong Kong was handed back to China. True, the Thatcher government got China to commit to a One China, Two Systems set up where China will recognize Hong Kong’s system until 2047 but that was back when China was still much of a recluse. That was before globalization brought China wealth, and with wealth, power.
Now, China is a fledgling superpower wannabe. It has the second largest economy that is projected to eventually surpass the US, the current No. 1, in a few decades. Its military is stretching itself out in the world most notably for us, in the South China Sea. Even a ruling by a duly constituted arbitral tribunal in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would not slow down their aggressive incursion into the West Philippine Sea and other parts claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
China is also becoming aggressive in Hong Kong. It started with missing booksellers and outright interference in elections. The current leaders of Hong Kong appear to have been chosen mostly by businessmen with strong links to the mainland. In other words, China’s candidates.
Then came the infamous extradition law that started something that has not died down: protests that is evolving into something more violent. From vandalism to petrol bombs. Hong Kong is now on fire.
Hongkongers do not like China and everything about it. The protesters all grew up in a totally different setting that China does not care for. Unfortunately, the reality is that Hong Kong will eventually be folded back into China. The very idea of Hong Kong, like Macau for the Portuguese, was never going to last “forever.” There is no scenario where the protesters will win, and so I suppose some have chosen to fight to the end, and violently at that. If they were going down, then they were going down swinging.
Hong Kong is now in recession. It’s commercial districts awash with tear gas. It has lost its prestige. Soon, it will be nothing more than another city in China. Another failed legacy of the once mighty British Empire.
Once upon a time, it was said that the sun never sets in the (British) Empire, and while this is understood more of the relation of the sun with the British territories, or what’s left of it anyway, the loss of its prestige seems to be a better representation of the setting of the sun over the empire. Darkness is coming and Hong Kong is just one more tile in a row of falling dominoes…