Hong Kong, 1842-2019
The British Empire controlled China by means of the opium trade, eventually generating 13 million addicts which led to 2 Opium Wars. In 1839, on Lin Zexu, imperial commissioner's, orders, pits were dug and seized opium was poured into them along with lime and salt to render it unusable. Hong Kong was ceded to the British in 1842 and was always a port of refuge, a paradise within reach, due to continuing turmoil in mainland China.
This former refuge is today a city of protest. The fate of 7 million people is controlled by the 1,200 members of the Chief Executive Election Committee. This committee is a major disappointment to the people of Hong Kong. Beijing's influence is completely undisguised and permeates Hong Kong life. Hongkongers use the boiling frog story to describe the manner in which the city is gradually losing its uniqueness.
'It is true that a man of Napoleon's truth of adaptation to the mind of the masses around him, becomes not merely representative, but actually a monopoliser and usurper of other minds.' Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this in Representative Men, implying this type of leadership provided limitless opportunities for the youth of France, not so in modern China. During the last few years, China accelerated the process of re-integrating Hong Kong which wants self-determination. Hong Kong cannot ignore China's domestic struggles.
In 1860, an Anglo-French army looted the Yuanmingyuan, the Summer Palace, Beijing. The 12 bronze animal heads specially made for Emperor Qianlong (1711-99) were stolen and scattered worldwide. The tiger, ox, monkey, pig, horse, rat and rabbit heads have been recovered as a form of national pride. The other 5 may yet be recovered. Hong Kong pride surpasses Mainland Chinese control.
Marx wrote in 'The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon', 'Hegel remarks all great world historic facts and personages appear twice, the first time as tragedy, the second time a farce.' Today, Joris Bohnson, believing he is Churchill incarnate, is merely a poor player strutting about on a Circus Act stage. The current leadership in China, suppressing all forms of dissent fully weakens the country's development globally. 'Will the Boat Sink the Water, The life of China's Peasants, Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao, 2004. Peasant power is significant in China.
Commencing with the July marches of 2003, Hong Kong is today a city of protest. The protests are connected to the widening gap between rich and poor; the incompetence of Hong Kong's leaders which was returned to China as a 'Special Economic Zone'; the upset caused by a flood of investors and tourists from the Mainland; the loss of Hong Kong's status and privileges as a result of the economic rise of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. The authoritarian methods of China were applied to Hong Kong, inevitably, with the resulting protests. Hong Kong remains more competitive, clean and ordered than any other city in China even 2 decades after returning to China. Hong Kong's political and social relevance will continue to grow.
Source: Paper Tiger, Inside the Real China, Head Zeus, 2015