In Thursday October 20th’s issue of the New York Times there was an article about the prevention of pro-autonomy legislature members in Hong Kong from being sworn in. Three lawmakers, who are all in favor of Hong Kong having greater independence from China, all had their original oaths declared invalid. In their original oaths they had declared allegiance to a Hong Kong nation, and mispronounced China as “Shina.” This was seen as a slight against China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. When they were scheduled to be sworn in pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the session, eliminating the quorum necessary to proceed with business.
This article underscores the ongoing tension in Hong Kong between the younger generation (as represented by some of these newly elected pro-autonomy legislators) and the establishment position on relations with China. The government is obviously divided on the course that it wants to pursue in regards to this policy, and the younger demographic continues to gain ground in the legislature it could lead to a real break from China, politically. Hong Kong is currently a Special Administrative Region, meaning it has some autonomy on daily governance matters and a lot of special exceptions (particularly economic) but ultimately answers to the government in Beijing. It will be interesting to see how the matter is resolved in the coming decades.
For the present, the lack of stability in Hong Kong underscores the shifting landscape and views among the Chinese populous broadly. More and more citizens even on the mainland are becoming politically aware and involved, particularly in online social media. This threat in Hong Kong is sure to make Beijing nervous, and perhaps lead to stricter control of the media and other avenues to stop this type of blatant tension for autonomy from spreading to other regions of mainland China.
What will the government in Beijing do in response to this continued tension? How will it change the administration of other cities and regions within the PRC? How does the lack of control impact how China will interact with countries internationally?