What is the relationship between China and Hong Kong? – The Sun

THE island metropolis of Hong Kong is uniquely both a part of, and independent to, mainland China.

The history of what was once the world's busiest and wealthiest port is complicated, and its future is in dispute.

Is Hong Kong an independent nation?

Hong Kong is semi-autonomous – with it's own money, passports, immigration channels and legal system.

But it isn't quite independent either.

In fact, Hong Kong was never an independent country.

Britain controlled the region as a British colony until 1997, when a 99-year lease expired.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of "one country, two systems" and a deal was struck between China when Britain ceded its control.

However, in recent years Hong Kong residents have become fearful of creeping mainland China control.

In 2014, China's Central People's Government released a report asserting that Hong Kong's judiciary should be subordinate to, and not independent of, the government.

What are the differences between Hong Kong and China?

Hong Kong has its own legal system, currency and parliamentary system.

The political and legal differences are set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and enshrined in the semi-constitutional Basic Law of Hong Kong.

Citizens are afforded freedoms not enjoyed in Communist mainland China, notably the freedom of protest, freedom of press, freedom of speech and a much-cherished independent judiciary.

Hong Kong also has its own Olympic team, anthem and flag.

However, the region's Chief Executive leader is appointed directly by Beijing.

Culturally, Hong Kong is a more international city with many values bestowed from its past as a British colony.

Mainland China continues to hold more traditional values.

Does China want to reunify the two states?

Hong Kong's Basic Law, as agreed between China and Britain, means Hong Kong will retain its semi-autonomous system for fifty years.

There has been much discussion about Hong Kong becoming an autonomous state.

The Hong Kong National Party, founded and led by Andy Chan, sees its current relationship with China as one of colonisation similar to how they were under British rule.

Recent political turmoil

But the "one country, two systems" arrangement has recently plunged into turmoil over a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Authorities in the territory have sought to suppress opposition to the proposed law, which critics say would erode Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

The new bill would create a system for case-by-case fugitive transfers between Hong Kong and China.

The Hong Kong government says the bill is a necessary step in its fight against crime, and that China is an important strategic partner.

But opponents fear that it would not resist politically-motivated requests by China.

Fears were bolstered last month when a member of China’s politburo, the ruling body of the Communist Party, revealed that the country’s targets included foreigners who had committed crimes against Chinese national security outside China.

The embattled leader of Hong Kong pledged to be more responsive to public sentiment in a speech at a flag-raising ceremony.

“This has made me fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately,” she said.



Hong Kong handover

Hong Kong became a British colony with the end of the First Opium War in 1842.

The British fought the war to preserve the right of the East India Company to sell opium into mainland China.

The establishment of the colony gave Britain control over a number of ports to which foreign merchants could deliver goods.

Britain obtained a 99-year lease for the territory in 1898, and relinquished control when that lease expired in 1997.

Hong Kong now operates as a semi-autonomous territory, with control over its own trade, tax, and immigration policy.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover, that status is protected until 2047.

What happens after then is currently undecided, but opponents of the Beijing government fear that China will seek to gain control of the territory.

Why are people protesting on July 1?

This year, on the anniversary of its handover from UK to Chinese rule, protesters clashed with police in Hong Kong.

A small group of protesters smashed into the government building and some police used pepper spray and batons to control demonstrators.

Large crowds are expected to attend a events to mark the anniversary but police have asked them to be scaled-down amid safety concerns.

What is the handover anniversary about?

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong became a part of China after being a former British Colony.

The deal was Hong Kong would operate as a "one country, two systems", guaranteeing a level of autonomy.

A number of pro-democracy events are held in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary.

A flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover took place on July 1 inside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

What is the extradition law?

Hong Kong's government has been trying to push through a bill that would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction that does not have already have a treaty – including mainland China.

They claim the measure will prevent Hong Kong, a colony of 7million people, from becoming a magnet for fugitives.

Why are people protesting?

The legislation has met with widespread opposition from a huge cross-section of society including lawyers, journalists, activists and business figures.

A procession of people almost two miles long marched for seven hours through central Hong Kong on Sunday, June 9.

A group of protesters had planned to stay outside the government headquarters until the extradition bill undergoes its second reading, but police moved in after a permit to protest expired at midnight and met the protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Even though China has run Hong Kong since 1997, the handover deal with the Brits ensured a 50-year "one country, two systems" deal where the city can retain key liberties, such as freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

Martin Lee QC, a pro-democracy figure and former legislator who helped organise the protests, told the Guardian: “If we lose this one, Hong Kong is not Hong Kong any more, it’s just another Chinese city.”

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