With flag-raising ceremony attended by head government officials on one hand, and under the prompting roars of unite march protests on the other, today marks the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the United Kingdom to China. At first, according to the Treaty of Nanjing, Beijing and the Convention of the Extension of HK Territory in 1842, 1860 and 1898 respectively, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded forever and the New Territories leased to Britain for 99 years. However, after negotiations in early 1980s between Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, it was decided that “the Question of Hong Kong” would be settled by the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” in 1984:
- Resumption of Hong Kong’s sovereignty by China on 1st July, 1997 – Here is the video of the 1997 handover ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_aPZGS3CH4
- Adoption of “One Country Two Systems” – Although China’s implementing Socialism, Hong Kong can still remain its original capitalist system and its way of life for 50 years unchanged after 1997 handover
- High autonomy for HK people, HK people ruling HK – Internal affairs such as economic and social development will be under the capacity of HK government
Nevertheless, the governance and politics of Hong Kong haven’t been quite peaceful. Due to storms of overwhelming rage to the Basic Law Article 23’s legislation in 1st July 2003, 500000 citizens firmly and blatantly opposed this security law lest the corruption of freedom of speech. After all, a spark can trigger off a huge fire. This vivid power of mutual consolidation successfully put a halt to that clamorous legislation, and eventually constituted to the step-down of the first Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee-hua.
Therefore, starting from 2003, it has become an annual tradition for Hong Kongers to participate in a large-scale march in each 1st July. This year’s protest is mainly affiliated to people’s resentment over the White Paper issued by Beijing for fear of eroding HK’s autonomy, as well as unfailing demands for their long-thirst of “universal suffrage” by one person one vote in 2017. It is certain that, HK government will undoubtedly be facing uphill hurdles and blocks of obstacles in the future. Dealing with the governance challenge is on no account easy, but the best an effective government should do is to consider this annual march as a beneficial pathway to listen to citizens’ diverse voices by heart, instead of just turn a deaf ear and shy away. ♦