China Dismisses Hong Kong’s Bid For ‘Sovereign’ Existence Amid Heated Controversy
A senior Chinese official has dismissed the notion of Hong Kong’s sovereignty following a recent article that had stirred controversy after demanding absolute autonomy for the former British territory by the year 2047. The highly controversial notion was brought to the fore in the article entitled “Our 2047,” appearing in a Hong Kong university publication, conceivably spearheaded by students.
The article elucidated Hong Kong’s bid to be recognized as a sovereign entity by the United Nations in 2047, when some of the stipulations of the so-called “Sino-British Joint Declaration,” which underscore Hong Kong’s unchanged status for a period of 50 years from 1997, would cease to apply. It also called for the establishment of a democratic government and with it an independent constitution.
“Even though Hong Kong doesn’t have the conditions to become independent yet… whether independence is viable or not is not our main concern. The main point is whether Hong Kong should become independent.”
Nearly two decades following Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, and despite having been guaranteed constitutionally sanctioned freedoms and autonomy from Beijing for 50 years, many of its inhabitants have become increasingly disenchanted with Beijing’s “one country, two systems” principle, which extends to 50 years and find themselves in a state of anguish with concerns for the future prospects of their city.
The younger population in particular feels that such drastic calls for independence are undoubtedly going to further the cause for absolute autonomy before the highest echelons of power in Beijing as well as Hong Kong. At the same time, these actions will reinforce an air of resilience within the population much required to forge a pro-independence mindset.Earlier this year, thousands of people swarmed the streets of Hong Kong in what was an extension of anti-Beijing processions from the preceding year. They were remonstrating against the suspicious disappearance of five missing persons linked with a Honk-Kong based publishing house with a popular history of producing sharply critical, anti-leadership content. The protests were directed against the perceived high-handedness and largely coercive tactics employed by law enforcement officials at the behest of mainland authorities.
In July last year, Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong and another prominent young pro-democracy activist were charged over an anti-China protest in 2014, in what was believed to a clampdown directed against perceived confrontational political activism in Hong Kong.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration was drafted following the exchange of “instruments of ratification” on May 27, 1985, and was mutually endorsed and recognized by the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom at the platform of the United Nations. Based on its provisions, the Chinese Government reserved the right to exercise sovereignty over Hong Kong and its adjoining territories from July 1, 1997, subsequent to the U.K. Government’s handover.Hong Kong, a bustling international hub and travel destination, enjoys fundamental freedoms and autonomy, as per the joint treaty and Britain as a primary signatory had taken upon itself the obligation to ensure that Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil liberties would remain intact for 50 years. In 1993, China’s chief negotiator on Hong Kong, Lu Ping, had the following to say.
“The [method of universal suffrage] should be reported to [China’s parliament] for the record, whereas the central government’s agreement is not necessary. How Hong Kong develops its democracy is completely within the sphere of the autonomy of Hong Kong. The central government will not interfere.”
However, on Wednesday, Qiao Xiaoyang, head of China’s parliamentary law committee, while addressing reporters following the conclusion of an annual parliamentary session, responded to the question of Hong Kong’s independence rather assertively, suggesting that the very notion was in itself “impossible” to conceive.
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