Reflection as Hong Kong marks its 11th handover anniversary

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China and also marks the eleventh year of which we were able to observe the manifestation and implementation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework under which Hong Kong has been labeled a Special Administrative Region (SAR) by China. DPP Director of International Affairs Lin Chen-wei stated today that China had promised the international community and the people of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would enjoy a high level of autonomy and retain its laws and self-governance for at least fifty years after the handover. However, this promise appears to be in sharp contrast to Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo’s subsequent statement in 2007 that Hong Kong’s right to autonomy is granted by the central PRC government.

Director Lin pointed out that in the eyes of Chinese officials, ‘One Country’ obviously comes before ‘Two Systems’ because without the country, two systems will not exist. From the Chinese perspective, although it has been eleven years since the handover, the people of Hong Kong has not yet fully accepted nor assimilated to the concept of ‘One China’. From the perspective of the people of Hong Kong, the emphasis naturally falls on the ‘Two Systems’ and therefore, protests, demonstrations, and direct elections are all natural rights.

Director Lin explains that China does not rely on governing concepts, but instead utilizes a Chief Executive of to control the Hong Kong SAR to prevent outside forces from convincing Hong Kong to return to democracy as it gradually starts to accept the ‘One China’ ideology. The high autonomy and self-governance theory is in reality for Beijing to handpick acceptable candidates to control the special administrative region of Hong Kong and makes Hong Kong dependent upon China. In the end, this makes promises of autonomy empty and meaningless.

Director Lin emphasizes that Hong Kong is a democratic common area between Taiwan and China. Democracy already flourishes in Taiwan and will prosper in Hong Kong as well. China should face this reality and challenge and learn from the democratic development experiences of Taiwan and make Hong Kong the ideal location to encourage democracy and democratic reforms in China.