Perfidious Albion delivered the people of Hong Kong to their fate

Dominic Raab and the other noisy but impotent critics of China exhibit a combination of ignorance and defective memory. Anyone in Hong Kong in the 1980s after the signing of the Joint Declaration knew it was a perfidious sell-out. The final meaningful jewel of Empire was given away and its people abandoned.

1st July 1997 – Britain betrays the people of Hong Kong

The People’s Republic move to tighten its control was delayed only by a pragmatic decision to wait until the West could do nothing about it. So between the mid 1980s and today the Chinese have built their international economic power to such an extent that we are all totally reliant on it. There is an unbreakable integration between China as manufacturer and as customer and the West that no amount of hand-wringing and huffing and puffing can change.

Britain was willing to fight a war and surrender lives in considerable numbers to support a couple of thousand British citizens occupying a few fields with sheep and rocks with penguins in the South Atlantic. But around the same time we meekly handed over five million of Hong Kong’s people, no less deserving of our protection, to one of the world’s most authoritarian and illiberal regimes. Perfidious Albion at its most venal.

So when we listen to Raab and Tugendhart and co. whining on about Beijing’s perfidy we should remind them that it was the inadequacy and lack of care, and principle, of Britain’s 1980s government that led us to where we are.

3 thoughts on “Perfidious Albion delivered the people of Hong Kong to their fate

  1. We seem to agree with each other on most current political issues Paddy. On this matter sadly we differ.
    In 1984 Margaret Thatcher negotiated with China that on the UK lease ending the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong would remain such for only a 50 year period. As you are aware the lease ended on 1st July 1997 and Hong Kong through agreement returned to sovereign China albeit with special status. Hong Kong was part of China for 2,000 years prior to a lease being given to Queen Victoria in 1842.
    What they did not negotiate was a western democratic political system or any degree of independence for its people or the British who settled there. It is the principle of sovereignty with Hong Kong. China has never relinquished that and never will.
    British people may think that was an injustice but actually having your cake and eating it too does not work.
    It’s a fundamental legal principle anywhere that when a lease ends so does everything else. All rights cease.
    Whatever your opinion about China and their political system is the people of Hong Kong are effectively sovereign citizens of China and in my view must work with Beijing not against it.
    Britain has no colonial rights to dictate to a sovereign power how it should run its own affairs. The people of Hong Kong must figure out the way themselves to return to peace and stability without the cheerleaders of Britain shouting empty threats.

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  2. There was no lease on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon which were British in perpetuity. A 99 year lease for the new Territiories was negotiated in 1897. I was in the Colony (as it then was) in the 1980s and the general view was that the Joint Declaration was a sell out. Sadly we were right.

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  3. I don’t doubt your facts of history but I feel the principle is the same. The alternative was and is a confrontation with a superpower. One mans pragmatism is anothers sell-out. Ex-pats always lament the loss of influence and control. The people of Hong Kong it seems to me enjoy a decent life which pretty relevant. How would democracy change that? The Chinese leadership know full well that democracy would lead to an independence struggle lasting generations.
    Also, the comparison you made with the Falkland Islands does not fit since Britains sovereignty was never in doubt and Argentina mounted an illegal invasion.
    Margaret Thatcher despite her many faults in my view acted correctly on both issues. Like all post-colonial discontent, the conflicts never end. Someone always loses something. C’est la vie.

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