Posted on May 23, 2020
Chris Patten, Britain's last governor of Hong Kong, has declared that China has betrayed the former colony as it prepares to impose new national security legislation on the city after a sustained campaign of pro-democracy protests last year, writes Gary Cartwright.
The West should "stop kowtowing to Beijing for an illusory great pot of gold," Patten has said.
Britain has a “moral, economic and legal” duty to stand up for Hong Kong, he told The Times.
Patten, dispatched to the colony in 1992 by then Prime Minister John Major, watched on as the British flag was lowered over Hong Kong when the land was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule.
Hong Kong’s autonomy was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement principle enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and Mrs. Thatcher.
But China’s plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong risk destroying the Declaration, Patten said. The United States has branded the laws a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy.
"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties," said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The draconian stamp-down on free and democratic expression by the Chinese Communist Party should could as no surprise to anybody: birds sing, dogs bark, communist governments enslave.
It was the lowering of the Union Flag on July 1st 1997 and the handing over of the city and its people that sounded the death knell. It was an event that the 6.5 million people of Hong Kong did not want, and which the British people blithely accepted on the basis of a lie: a lie that came not from China, but from the British government itself.
It was inevitable, it was said, as Britain's lease on the colony was due to expire. However, the truth is that there was never any lease on Hong Kong: the island was ceded, along with the Kowloon Peninsula, to Great Britain in the aftermath of the war in 1842 and was established as a Crown colony in 1843.
Fifty-five years later, in 1898, a 99-year lease was granted to the British on the New Territories, for the duration of which would see them officially a part of Hong Kong itself. The expiration of that lease alone would have led to some three million people fleeing to the safety of Hong Kong - something the British government did not want to deal with.
“What we are seeing is a new Chinese dictatorship,” Patten told The Times. “The British government should make it clear that what we are seeing is a complete destruction of the Joint Declaration.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Friday the government was monitoring the situation, and that as a party to the Joint Declaration the UK remains committed to the upholding Hong Kong’s autonomy and respecting the one country, two systems model. Words never sounded so hollow...
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