The History Behind Hong Kong's Ongoing Protests

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tags: China, Hong Kong, Protest


Protests continue this weekend in Hong Kong, even though the government has shelved a controversial extradition agreement with Beijing and apologized over that legislation. Citizens of Hong Kong want to maintain their freedom of speech and assembly, which is stronger than in mainland China. And that difference stems from Hong Kong's winding history.

VICTORIA HUI: I grew up in Hong Kong and got my undergrad degree in Hong Kong, so I've been watching what's going on in Hong Kong all this time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Victoria Hui is a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame. We called her up and asked her to tell us how Hong Kong is both part of China and very much its own place.

HUI: Hong Kong Island was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1842, after the first Opium War.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Under tolerant and wise British rule, with ruling Oriental assistance, has grown a modern Western city in an Eastern setting.

HUI: And then in 1898, Britain also forced China to lease a piece of territory called the New Territories to the U.K., this time as a lease for 99 years.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: By the early 1980s, London was eyeing the end of that 99-year lease and wanted to open negotiations with Beijing. In 1984, they struck a joint declaration.


MARGARET THATCHER: We have got an agreement, which is acceptable overwhelmingly to the people of Hong Kong.

HUI: The joint declaration promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong under a one country, two systems model.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The one country, two systems model was to take effect in 1997. Foreign affairs and national defense would be guided by Beijing. Everything else about Hong Kong would be controlled by Hong Kong.

Read entire article at NPR

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