Hong Kong independence movement
The Hong Kong independence movement (simplified Chinese: 香港独立运动; traditional Chinese: 香港獨立運動) is a movement that advocates Hong Kong becoming an independent sovereign state. Following the handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, many Hongkongers have expressed concern over the governance by the Communist Party of China over issues surrounding justice, freedom, democratic development, as well as well-developed economic environment after being a special administrative region. Some of them want the current SAR to become a sovereign city-state like Singapore, also a former crown colony of the British Empire. According to HKPOP's 2007 poll, 25% of Hong Kongers preferred an independent Hong Kong rather than an SAR ruled by PRC, an increase from 22% in 2005, while 64.7% of interviewees thought it should not be independent. 33% of interviewees said they would prefer independence if the Communist Party still rules PRC in 2047, when the Sino-British Joint Declaration expires, but stated that they would prefer to remain part of the country if and only if the Communist Party reforms into a full democracy with universal suffrage.
This movement should not be confused with the Hong Kong Autonomy Movement, which rather than advocate independence from the PRC, demands that the PRC allow and implement the Hong Kong people a high degree of autonomy, as was promised at the Handover of 1997.
The territories of Hong Kong were not entirely ceded to Britain at one time. The cessions were divided into three periods. In 1842, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded in perpetuity to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Nanking. In 1860, after China's defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutter's Island were ceded in perpetuity to Britain under the Convention of Peking. In 1898, under the terms of the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.
The ethnic majority of Hong Kong is Cantonese, including natives and immigrants from mainland China. Most of them escaped to Hong Kong due to the unrest in mainland China, such as the Civil War, and the ruling of Cultural Revolution. A sense of Chinese ethnicity and Hong Kong citizenship is stronger than Chinese citizenship.
In 16 December 1946, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization assented colonies, such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau, to being independent. However, both Hong Kong and Macau were later removed from the list by request of the People's Republic of China,. The PRC preferred to negotiate directly with the two colonial powers, the United Kingdom and Portugal, in order to avoid self-determination by the citizens in the two colonies. In 1960, UN Resolution 1514 was approved, which advocated that all colonies should be formally independent if they desire. In 1972, the permanent UN seat of the Republic of China was replaced by the People's Republic of China.
After the replacement, PRC proposed bilateral negotiation between China and Britain to resolve the Hong Kong sovereignty issue. Although China opposed Britain's attempts to push through last-minute democratic reform in Hong Kong on technical grounds, it did not oppose representative democracy in Hong Kong in principle; it only objected to "the introduction of any independence movement". When the negotiation had started, the mainland officials demanded that only the colonial powers were to negotiate the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration directly with China, isolating public consultation from the political processes up to the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the transfer of sovereignty over Macau.
Some main reasons that caused the movement are listed below:
- Leftist Riot in 1967.
- The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 declares that the Britain would return all territories of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China in 1997.
- The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 incited concern and skepticism over the PRC government's commitment to democracy. It also caused more Hong Kong people to worry about the Communists, eventually led to the mass migration wave of 1989.
- The controversial political reforms in 2012.
- Difference in ideology between Hong Kong and PRC: Hong Kong has been a developed capitalist economy since the 1980s. Although there is one Basic Law article which states that Hong Kong's systems and polices shall remain unchanged for 50 years, some people still believe that the PRC socialist regime would ruin Hong Kong's original economic environment and freedom. Politically, some people are afraid that Hong Kong would never have democracy under the PRC governance.
- The proposed enactment of the Article 23, Basic Law.
- Early 2012 Hong Kong protests
- 2014 Hong Kong protests
Independence advocates hope to create a democratic "Republic of Hong Kong", independent from China. Some hope a contest should be hosted to vote for the future flag of Hong Kong. New passports should be created. In the meantime, Hong Kong independence advocates want recognition in the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. There is also a possibility that such a state would join the Commonwealth of Nations as a former territory of the British Empire, or request status as a British Overseas Territory. Possible support for this was indicated by an online poll, but its representativeness and validity is suspect.
Comments by Chinese government
According to Zhang Dinghuai, a political scientist at Shenzhen University, those people who call for Hong Kong's "independence" represent a small minority amid a larger Chinese population which is pained by "the painful memory of national disintegration". Zhang pointed out that Beijing already grants Hong Kong a large level of autonomy, and that independentist complaints about the National People's Congress's power to interpret Court of Final Appeal decisions were unreasonable for a non-sovereign state.
On 20 September 2012 Chen Zuo'er, former deputy director at the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said he was "heartbroken" by protestors who waved British colonial flags and demanded "Chinese scram back to China" during protests against cross-border traders in Sheung Shui. On 1 October 2012 protesters again waved the Blue Ensign of Hong Kong and chanted "We are Hongkongers, not Chinese [nationals]" in front of the Central Government's Liaison office in Hong Kong. In response on 12 October, Lu Ping, a former director and Chen's boss at the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, caused a minor controversy when he called the protesters "morons", asking "Do they know where the water they are daily drinking comes from?" On 31 October, the Global Times advocated a cool response to independentists, explaining that separatist feelings in Hong Kong were a result of resentment at mainland China's economic development, which has robbed some Hongkongers of a "sense of superiority" over mainlanders.
On 1 November, Lu challenged independence advocates to renounce their Chinese citizenship, saying "Our country, which has a population of 1.3 billion, would not be bothered losing this handful of people". The convener of the Executive council, Lam Woon-kwong denied the emergence of an independence movement. On 5 November, Alex Lo of the South China Morning Post (SCMP) asserted that "There is no sign the movement is anything but the asinine rumblings of a few malcontents and juveniles", cautioning that Lu's comments were "making [the protestors] feel important instead of ridiculous".
- Early 2012 Hong Kong protests
- Hong Kong 1 July marches
- Politics of Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Autonomy Movement
- Hong Kong Localism Power
- Civic Passion
- Hong Kong Independence Party
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- Associated Press, 15 November 2004
- Associated Press, 16 November 2004
- South China Morning Post, 7 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine (archived 15 February 2005)