National People’s Congress –China’s Parliament– on Thursday considered a controversial law with respect to the Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region or SAR). This immediately triggered massive protests on Sunday in the coastal city.
About 180 people were arrested on Sunday.
What exactly is this law about and why is it controversial. NewsMobile takes a look:
What is this law about?
The ‘Draft decision’ as it is known as says that Hong Kong must improve its security situation.
The controversial provision of this draft law permits the Central government in Beijing to station security forces and other authorities to curb acts of terrorism.
It is this provision that is being seen as an erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the coastal city is responsible for its own security.
Chinese Foreign Minister said that this law would ban “treason, secession, sedition and subversion”.
Why does Hong Kong have this autonomy? What is its history?
Hong Kong is a city located on the coast of South China Sea, situated to the east of the Pearl River delta. The river delta is one of the most urbanized and densely populated regions of China and leads the rest of the nation in terms of economic growth.
The territory became a part of Britain after the end of First opium war (the war began when the Chinese authorities cracked down on opium cultivation in their land which was supported by Britain. The Qing dynasty lost the war. It was a series of battles from 1839-42) with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Britain started incorporating new territories and made it a part of the Hong Kong region.
After the second opium war, in 1898, Britain received a lease for 99 years over the territory of Hong Kong. When the lease was about to expire in 1997, China and Britain agreed to extend the special protection to the region by another 50 years till 2047.
Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (SAR), is part of China’s ‘One Nation two systems’ policy. The policy seeks to grant special protection to the region from the policies adopted by mainland China. The city state (partially) is permitted to follow a different system of economy as opposed to the practice of socialism in the mainland, have extensive trade links with the world, make its own laws (subject to the overall approval from the mainland) and have its own currency. This policy is now under currently under strain.
The importance of the city can be gauged by the fact that its GDP for the year 2018 stands at US $362.99 billion. In India, the Gross state domestic product of Maharashtra (the state with the largest economy) was US $374 billion approximately. Hong Kong is a city state and not a full state/province like Maharashtra. Globally, it is a developed economy and is also an investor in projects around the world. It rivals the city-state of Singapore.
Earlier in the second half of 2019, Hong Kong engulfed in mass protests against a proposed law that gave the Chinese Central government, the permission to extradite the residents of the city to the mainland and try them in courts there.
How has the International Community responded to this?
The US has passed a legislation titled the ‘Hong Kong Autonomy Act’ in both the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. This gives the US President the power to bring in sanctions against China, its officials and others who violate Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Australia and others too have condemned this act.