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“ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS,” formula for Hong Kong is ending. Protestors reject China’s sovereignty; China rejects HKSAR legal autonomy; and United States no longer willing to treat HKSAR as a separate economic and financial territory:…
OCTS was based on a deliberate ambiguity about the territory’s status following the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China, one that obscured differences over culture, identity, economic functions and ultimate control. But ambiguity has come under increasing strain
OCTS required ambiguity at multiple levels: social, HKSAR, PRC, and international. But at every level the ambiguity has given way to pressure for clarity. And the compromises and contradictions are starting to unravel.
OCTS is likely to unravel further because none of the crucial actors have enough interest in preserving rather than undermining it. Ultimately HKSAR looks set to lose much of its remaining autonomy and be absorbed, more or less, into the Mainland system.
Current standoff between PRC and HKSAR, centralisors and protestors, can be traced back to the fierce arguments between UK diplomat Percy Craddock and the last colonial governor Chris Patten, and even before that into the 1980s
Tensions playing out between protestors and security forces, HKSAR and PRC, U.K./USA and China, were always there in the handover, latent, relying on ambiguity to keep them hidden, but vulnerable to a spark or sparks
OCTS required everyone to put aside those tensions, to ignore the inconsistencies and inherent contradictions in order to make it work. Now the willingness has evaporated and OCTS is unraveling as a result. Everyone will be worse off. But no one cares enough to avoid the result
HONG KONG’s endgame has been fairly obvious for the last 12 months. Protests will continue escalating. PRC will gradually introduce more controls both security services and social controls. Autonomy will be progressively narrowed. HKSAR’s special international status diminished
HONG KONG’s scope to be both part of the PRC yet somehow not part of it is diminishing as superpower conflict between USA and China intensifies. Ultimately HKSAR will be assimilated much more into Mainland system, with political fewer freedoms but it’s own commercial code
In theory, no one wants this outcome. Protestors want autonomy. PRC wants an offshore financial centre. U.K./USA want political freedoms. But refusal to compromise means everyone will get opposite of what they say they want. (Actually fairly common in history).
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