, 16 tweets, 2 min read
Hong Kong Saturday night musings

It’s easy to see there’s confusion out there in the world about what Hong Kong is and what’s happening to it. 1/
Hong Kong is part of China, right? It was stolen by British pirates in the 19th century, who forced a weak Chinese government to give it up so the British could use it as a trading post to sell opium and other things. 2/
Yes. China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, when the British agreed to return it and left. 3/
So the people waving British and American flags in Hong Kong today are seeking to split China and turn it into a colony again? 4/
No. Here’s where it gets a little complicated, and a lot of the confusion seeps in. 5/
Most of the people in Hong Kong fled, or are the children or grandchildren of people who fled, from the communist revolution in mainland China in 1949. 6/
Hong Kong didn’t offer them much, if anything, in the way of social services or support. But it offered them freedom to speak their mind and a society governed by law. 7/
So when Britain agreed, for reasons of realpolitik, to return Hong Kong to China in 1997, it was aware that it was returning millions of people to the control of a system from which they had fled. 8/
The compromise that Britain reached, with the vision of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, was “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong would become part of China again, but it would retain its capitalist system and its civic and political freedoms for a minimum of 50 years. 9/
So here’s the rub. China basically kept its promises for the first 10-15 years after the handover, and not much changed in Hong Kong. 10/
But change accelerated after Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013. The examples are too numerous to mention in full, but there has been an assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms that has intensified in the past six to seven years. 11/
These range from the abduction of booksellers and businessmen by mainland agents, to assaults on the independence of judges, disqualification of candidates for the legislature, and violence against journalists. 12/
It is important to think about the change that has happened in China itself when considering the unrest in Hong Kong this year. 13/
At the time the Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, China was on the cusp of an era that was far more open and liberal than it is today. That era ended with Tiananmen. Yet China today is even more repressive than it was in the 1990s. 14/
The point of this short thread is: Hong Kong didn’t break the bargain. Hong Kong didn’t change. China did. The people of Hong Kong just want what they have always had and what they were promised they could keep: freedom. 15/
That is my sense, as an outsider who has lived here for the best part of 30 years. Most people in Hong Kong don’t believe that the city isn’t or shouldn’t be part of China. They just don’t want to be part of the communist system. It’s that simple.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Matthew Brooker

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!