The Western media has been boasting over recent protests in Hong Kong. Western headlines have claimed the protests have “rattled” Beijing’s leadership.
The protests have been organized to obstruct Hong Kong’s elected government from moving forward with an extradition bill. The bill would further integrate Hong Kong’s legal system with that of mainland China’s, allowing suspects to be sent to the mainland, Taiwan, or Macau to face justice for crimes committed anywhere in Chinese territory.
The protests oppose the extradition bill as a wider means of opposing Hong Kong’s continued reintegration with China – arguing that the “One Country, Two Systems” terms imposed by the British upon Hong Kong’s return under Chinese sovereignty in 1997 must be upheld.
Uprooting the Last Vestiges of British Imperialism
The story of Hong Kong is one of territory violently seized by the British Empire from China in 1841, being controlled as a colony for nearly 150 years, and begrudgingly handed over to China in 1997.
The “One Country, Two Systems” conditions imposed by the British were a means of returning Hong Kong to China in theory, but in practice maintaining Hong Kong as an enduring outpost of Western influence within Chinese territory. The West’s economic and military power in 1997 left Beijing little choice but to agree to the terms.
Today, the Anglo-American international order is fading with China now the second largest economy on Earth and poised to overtake the US at any time. With economic and military power now on China’s side, it has incrementally uprooted the vestiges of British colonial influence in Hong Kong – the extradition bill being the latest example of this unfolding process.
Beijing has reclaimed Hong Kong through economic and political means. Projects like the recently completed Hong Kong high-speed rail link and the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge have helped increase the number of mainlanders – laborers, visitors, and entrepreneurs – travelling to, living in, and doing business with Hong Kong. With them come mainland values, culture, and politics.
Hong Kong’s elected government is now composed of a majority of openly pro-Beijing parties and politicians. They regularly and easily defeat Hong Kong’s so-called “pan-democratic” and “independence” parties during elections.