Anka Lee: Can Hong Kong Control Own Fate?
Truman Fellow Anka Lee in The Diplomat:
On April 1, exactly one week after a committee stuffed with pro-Beijing electors chose Leung Chun-ying to be the third post-colonial Chief Executive of Hong Kong, thousands of people took to the streets and vented their anger toward mainland China for meddling in the city’s affairs. Some even donned large replicas of Chinese tanks, presumably symbolizing the fear that Beijing had started cracking down on the former British colony. It seemed as though people took to the streets to express the worry that the city they had always known – free, vibrant, and open – was gradually slipping away. And they wanted to do something about it.
As the recent “election” shows, Hong Kong has a complicated relationship with the mainland. In its dealings with China, the city has constantly balanced between accommodation and suspicion, belongingness and resentment, worried if it could retain its distinctiveness or risked becoming just one of many Chinese cities. Yet, in a larger sense, none of this is new, and one can’t understand the dynamics being played out today simply by referencing the anger toward the “small circle” election or Beijing-friendly tycoons. Instead, it’s necessary to explore the experience of a city that, for most of its history, has routinely felt the pressure of living under someone else’s control.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Truman National Security Project or Educational Institute.