Defining One Country, Two System

Defining One Country, Two System

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Defining One Country, Two System

Hong Kong is a very special city. It has a very interesting history. In 1842, Hong Kong Island of Hong Kong was ceded by China to Great Britain. In 1860, Kowloon Peninsula of Hong Kong was ceded to England. In 1898, the rest of Hong Kong, the New Territories and 235 outlying islands were leased to England for 99 years. In the early 1980’s, the British and Chinese government began to have negotiations about Hong Kong’s future since the lease would expire on July 1st, 1997. The leader of China, Deng XiaoPing, introduced the “One Country, Two System”. The “One Country, Two System” was intended by China to give Hong Kong’s citizen a promise that communism wouldn’t prevail over capitalism in Hong Kong. This way, China would gain trusts from Hong Kong’s citizens that the conditions would be the same when the Great Britain returned the sovereignty of Hong Kong back to China. British and Chinese representatives signed the British-Sino Joint Declaration in 1984, authorizing the transition of Hong Kong’s sovereignty in the midnight of July 1st, 1997. Hong Kong citizens were excited that Hong Kong would finally return to its motherland. China wanted to show the world that the “One Country, Two System” would be unique and successful so that China could attract Macau and Taiwan to return to China.

In the early 1990’s, the Basic Law was published in order to make the practice of “One Country, Two System” a legal procedure. In the Basic Law, it stated that Hong Kong would become an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China (1). China would authorize Hong Kong to practice a high degree of autonomy, and enjoy executive, legislative, and independent judicial power (2). The executive authorities and legislative of Hong Kong shall be composed of permanent residents of Hong Kong (3). Hong Kong residents would have their rights and freedoms (4). The socialist system and policies wouldn’t be practiced in Hong Kong, and the previous capitalist system and way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years (5). Hong Kong would protect the right of private ownership of property in accordance with law (6). The laws previously enforced in Hong Kong, the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary laws, would be maintained (8).

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No law enacted by the legislature of Hong Kong would contravene this law (11). The Basic Law couldn’t be changed because it is the legal document between China and Hong Kong. These are the general principles of the Basic Law. Did China keep its promises to Hong Kong as stated in the Basic Law?

After July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong returned to China. The original legislative council, for which the members were chosen by voters of Hong Kong, was dismissed by the Chinese government. A transitional legislative council was formed, for which most of the members had close relationships with China and little tie with Hong Kong. This legislative council was China’s own idea, despise of Great Britain’s protests. They changed the law-setting process by stating that “laws would only be passed with over half of the council or 30 members, and laws would only be vetoed by two third of the council or 40 members; while originally laws could be passed and vetoed by the majority of votes.” Because this legislative council consisted of only members that are pro-Chinese government, laws that favor China’s intervention of Hong Kong were passed. The members were not chosen by population of Hong Kong, therefore they didn’t work for the voice of Hong Kong’s citizens. The election process for the next legislative council was changed in order for pro-Chinese-people to stay in the council in order to fulfill China’s need to control Hong Kong.

Besides the legislative branch, the executive branch of Hong Kong’s government is also filled up with pro-Chinese-Communist people. The Chief Executive, chosen by a small group of representatives from China, is appointed by the Central government of China. The Chief Executive is the only person that has the authority to appoint officials for the executive branch, and he decided to choose his supporters in those positions. Monopolizing the executive and legislative branches, the Chinese Communist government had a firm control in Hong Kong’s internal policies. Though resented by these laws, the citizens in Hong Kong couldn’t change the adverse situation by peaceful demonstrations. Usually, the US and the Great Britain governments would be concerned about Hong Kong’s political status. But most of their attentions turned to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terrorists since the incident of 9/11 in 2001. Hong Kong’s citizens’ voices couldn’t be heard, therefore the world didn’t notice about the worsening political situation in Hong Kong. Because of this, the Chinese government sped up its process in intervening Hong Kong’s internal policies and converting Hong Kong to a less capitalist and more communist city.

The most obvious examples that showed that China didn’t keep its promise are the Chinese reinstatement of Article 23 and Article 45 of the Basic Law. In 2003, the government began to talk about the passage of laws in order to fulfill the requirements in the Article 23 of the Basic Law. Article 23 states that “Hong Kong should enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against China, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies (23)”. China favored this article because it wants to eliminate all the opposition to Chinese government. The citizens of Hong Kong worried that their freedoms to express their political views would be reduced or eliminated, therefore opposing the legislation of the law. China violated its promise of “One Country, Two Systems” by forcing the legislation to pass the law without the consent of the citizens of Hong Kong. Citizens were angered by China’s move and decided to protest against China. On July 1st, 2003, nearly 1 million people paraded to show their concerns that the legislation of the law is Hong Kong’s matter, and China was not allowed to interfere its internal policies. They also protested China for delaying the practice of Article 45 of the Basic Law. Article 45 states that “the Chief Executive of Hong Kong would be selected by election held locally and be appointed by China. The ultimate aim was the selection of the Chief Executive by the entire population of Hong Kong so that the process would be totally democratic” (45). Hong Kong citizens demanded that the entire population could participate in the next Chief Executive election in 2008. They questioned that a leader chosen by a small fraction of population wouldn’t represent the entire population at all. China continued to deny the demands of citizens in Hong Kong so that the leader of Hong Kong would continue to be leaning towards China instead of the popular opinions of citizens in Hong Kong. From these examples, Hong Kong citizens should realize that China had broken its promise in the “One Country, Two Systems” for numerous occasions already. They should be alerted so that China wouldn’t take away the rights of them to govern their internal affairs in the future. Additionally, Hong Kong citizens should be active for the city’s democratic movement. They should continue to fight to prevent Hong Kong to turn into a dictatorship similar to the on in Singapore.

From the history, China wasn’t a trustworthy government since its formation in 1949. In early 1950’s, China tried to negotiate with Dalai Lama to talk about Tibet’s future. China tried to persuade that Tibet was belonged to China from long time ago, while Dalai Lama told China that Tibet and China were two independent countries, and they shouldn’t interfere with each other’s affairs. In late 1950’s, the negotiation broke up. China sent military forced, saying that it would help Tibet to improve its economy. In reality, China sent military powers to attack the defenseless Tibet and occupy it by force. Despise the opposition of Tibetans, Chinese suppressed the voices of Tibetans and claimed to the world that Tibet was a part of China in 1960. China just lied to the world since 1960 that Tibet was no longer a country and was belonged to China. Dalai Lama traveled around the world to talk about the Chinese forceful invasion of Tibet, and he received the Nobel Prize in 1989. The credibility of China is nothing; anything that it said wasn’t reliable. China could do whatever and broke promises as soon as China annexed some area. Tibet’s example should raise alerts for Taiwanese government about the future of Taiwan. Taiwan should be careful if they are negotiating with China about Taiwan’s future. The same thing happened to Tibet and Hong Kong could happen to Taiwan. Taiwanese would lose their freedoms and nationalities if they decided to return to China. The world powers should also be careful about China’s credibility, otherwise they would be affected economically and politically.

China might defend that its credibility is perfect. China said that they didn’t interfere with Hong Kong’s internal affairs. China was just helping to defense itself against rebellions and anti-revolutionary movements to overthrow China. China wanted to have political stability in China and Hong Kong. In reality, China was not keeping its promises to Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s internal affairs are severely interfered by China. Also, the citizens in China were being heavily suppressed. Chinese couldn’t enjoy basic freedoms and rights. The totalitarianism regime in China was trying to convert Hong Kong into a communist region so that China could have a more direct control over Hong Kong.

In conclusion, China introduced the famous “One Country, Two Systems”. Then China changed the principles of it. Gradually, China would change the “One Country, Two Systems” into “One Country, One System”. “2+2=5” in the novel “1984” by George Orwell might be happening again in Hong Kong due to China’s expansion in its communism and totalitarianism ideas. Hong Kong’s citizens should take action immediately to show the world about the urgent situation in Hong Kong. The United Nations should set up negotiations between Hong Kong and China to make sure that the “One Country, Two Systems” is working perfectly and Hong Kong will enjoy greater democracy in the future.

Works Cited

Basic Law Committee, “The Basic Law” (Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 23, 45) accessed September 19th, 2004.
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