CHENNAI, India, 3 July 2017
Ever since Britain ended its 156-year rule in Hong Kong and handed over the territory to China, Hong Kong continues to remain a vulnerable spot for China. This is more than evident from the recent speech of Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip to Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of Britain handing over Hong Kong to China.
During this visit, President Xi Jinping issued a sharp warning, in the manner that Chinese government leaders are known for, stating that a divided Hong Kong which challenges China’s rule would not be tolerated. He clearly said that any attempt to challenge China’s sovereignty or to use Hong Kong to carry out sabotage activities against mainland China would be absolutely impermissible. By making such observations and issuing such warnings, the Chinese President has clearly admitted that the relations between Hong Kong and mainland China continue to remain under strain even after 20 years of China taking over Hong Kong.
It is well known that mainland China is ruled by President Xi Jinping with an iron hand and with one-party rule by ruthlessly suppressing freedom of speech and any movement for democracy. Obviously, the Chinese President wants to impose similar conditions in Hong Kong, which are resisted by the natives.
When taking over Hong Kong, China gave an assurance that Hong Kong’s autonomy, including personal liberty and free speech and independent courts, would be protected. But this has really not happened. There has been no direct election so far for Hong Kong city’s leader. The recent Chinese interventions in Hong Kong’s legal affairs have caused surprise and resulted in protest. Obviously, Hong Kong continues to remain a vulnerable spot for China.
China’s takeover of Hong Kong still remains an incomplete story as residents of Hong Kong are demanding freedom and liberty which Chinese leadership do not want to give. And China’s aggressive takeover of Tibet also continues to remain a vulnerable spot for China.
Unlike Hong Kong, China has totally suppressed freedom in Tibet and is keeping the Tibetans under full control by threat and militant leadership. Unlike Hong Kong, no news about happenings in Tibet are allowed to be leaked out to the outside world, and Chinese-occupied Tibet remains as behind an iron curtain.
While the world is not questioning the takeover of Hong Kong by China, the people in Hong Kong are questioning such takeover, which is amply proved by the outburst of President Xi Jinping that any dissent in Hong Kong would not be tolerated.
In the case of Tibet, the world has not reconciled itself to the forced occupation of Tibet by China, though the world governments largely remain silent on this grim issue in view of the trade and investment opportunities that China offers.
President Xi Jinping is striving hard to project China as a world superpower, and has not concealed the ambition to dominate other countries in Asia by fair or foul means. But Hong Kong and Tibet are two territories that are coming in the way of China’s efforts to occupy a world leadership role.
As it has done in the case of the mainland. the Chinese government would continue to keep Hong Kong and Tibet in its vice-like grip by suppressing free speech. But these two spots are bound to haunt China for a long time to come.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.