(source: TheJakartaGlobe.com & Reuters)
Margaret Thatcher, Former Prime Minister of the UK, died on 8th April. This news has been covered by every newspaper, forum, discussion board and Facebook page in Hong Kong. Although the world (and the majority of the people of Hong Kong) are evaluating what she’s done when she was in office, people in Hong Kong, especially the local, began to look at what has she done during the Sino-British negotiation back in the late 70s and 80s. Did the Iron Lady actually fight for Hong Kong? Or was she not really that tough a Prime Minister after all when she faced the Commies?
Perhaps she did not fight, perhaps she did. Some said that the UK government never had the best interest of the people of Hong Kong in their heart. After all, not many people knew about Hong Kong then (in fact, many still don’t know Hong Kong was a British colony before it was handed to the Communists in 1997). People in the UK were extremely worried that 3 million** of Hong Kong people were going to flee to the UK and would collapse the country – the fact is, people of Hong Kong did not want to move to the UK, they only wanted some sort of security if the Communist ever crosses the line they have something to fall back to. People of Hong Kong are grateful for what the British government has done (e.g. nine years of free education for children, rule of law, clean government [at least cleaner than many other governments including China’s for years and for now], basic national health care provided by public hospital, public housing for the poor and the grass root, etc), yet disgusted by the fact that the British government essentially betrayed the people of Hong Kong as the British government kept their subjects in Hong Kong in the dark until it was the point of no return.
** The total population in Hong Kong was no more than 5 million, and no more than 3 million were British nations, i.e. either born in Hong Kong, a British colony, or have British citizenship via different means
I found a short post on the most popular discussion forum in Hong Kong, Golden Forum, and below is the translation (not word for word as I felt it is important to elaborate to give more details to the context):
近日，有部份團體/個人提出一些意見，指”英國真的有那麼好嗎?”、”英國出賣香港，為何還要懷緬殖民地時代，何必呢?”云云。英國和中共相比， 大家都有眼睇；”英國出賣香港”實際上是某些人士借題發揮、大眾以訛傳訛的後果。筆者認為香港人有必要知道當年究竟發生甚麼事，而有之後的”香港成為英國 殖民地”、”香港忽然要被回歸”，因為香港赤化愈來愈嚴重，而且教科書亦非全面講解，只有短短數行字，電視亦為免”得罪大陸，打爛飯碗”，也不會道出全部 事實。
大家都知當年，滿清戰敗，先後割讓香港島、九龍半島，並讓英國租借新界。但為何要選擇香港這個地方呢？其實與清英戰爭有關。其實當年英軍久攻不破 林則除的防線，而艦上的淡水又接近用完，當時的澳門政府又拒絕為英軍補給，但為何最後又可以戰勝滿清？因為當時的香港人為英軍補給，致令英國戰勝滿清(有 部份歷史資料認為是基於反清心理，促使香港人協助英軍)。當時的英國主帥查理‧義律爵士雖然以英國利益為先，但亦深知滿清不會放過出於香港人，故冒上被撤 職的風險，都要出於道義和利益提出佔領香港、保護香港人，而非中史書所言的”不滿穿鼻草約利益過少而把義律撤職”。(詳情可以上網搜尋義律上書印度總督信 件，而信件內容已被香港浸會大學及樹仁大學引用為史實；亦可以翻閱” 改變香港歷史的60篇文獻”)
The misunderstandings average Hong Kongers have against the UK:
Recently, some organisations and individuals have started to ask “was Britain that good?” “Britain betrayed Hong Kong, why would Hong Kongers still miss the colonial days?”. I believe that Hong Kongers must learn about what actually happened back then before the phrases “Hong Kong became a British colony” and “Hong Kong was suddenly being returned”. Text books nor the media would not reveal all the facts as they need to make a living (note: given that they need to have the business from pro-China or China-backed organisations, individuals, etc)
As all should know (note: evidentially not known to many Brits), when Qin government lost in wars, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded to Britain perpetually, whilst the New Territories were leased to Britain (note: for 99 years, which in Chinese language it is equivalent to eternity). Why did Britain pick Hong Kong (a small fish village back then)? The British army had been fighting the Qin government’s troop (led by Lin Tse-Hsu) but could not defeat them, to make the situation more difficult, they were running out of fresh water, but the Macau government then refused provide supply to the British army. Fortunately, people in Hong Kong provided supply to the British troop which eventually helped them beat Qin. Although Admiral Sir Charles Elliot, who led the army, put England’s interest first, he understood that Qin government would not let the people of Hong Kong off. He risked his career and proposed to take over Hong Kong in order to protect the people of Hong Kong, purely because of his morality. This is completely different from the Chinese history books which say “the British government was not pleased about the benefits they could get from the Convention of Chuenpee” (this can be referenced to the letter Charles Elliot sent to the governor of India, which has been categorised as historical fact).
This is when Hong Kong began to turn into a British colony.
The people of Hong Kong had been doing just fine, why was there a sudden “being returned to China”? Many thought that it was because of the lease (note: New Territories) was up, but there is a fundamental fault in this theory.
To understand this, one must understand some international resolutions:
According to United Nations Security Council resolution 1516 (noted: a feedback suggests that this should be General Assembly resolution 1514), colonies have right for self determination, meaning colonies can determine whether to go independent, remain status quo, etc.
As of 14th December 1946, United Nations General Assembly still recognised Hong Kong as one of the non-self-governing colonies. It is important to note that the definition of Hong Kong included Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, outer islands and relevant territorial water (New Territories and outer islands in Hong Kong were “leased to the British for 99 years” in the Treaty of Nanking – please also note in Chinese language, 99 is a symbol representing “forever” and “eternity”).
As stated in the Article 73 (b) of the Charter of the United Nations: Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:
- to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;
- to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;
- to further international peace and security;
- to promote constructive measures of development, to encourage research, and to co-operate with one another and, when and where appropriate, with specialized international bodies with a view to the practical achievement of the social, economic, and scientific purposes set forth in this Article; and
- to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.
According to this Article, Hong Kong should have gone self-governing even if it had not gone independent. What is the reason for “being returned to China”? (note: “being returned to China” here consist the fact that people of Hong Kong were NOT informed nor consulted about this “decision” and were left with no choice but to “be returned to China”)
This is all because of the trickery China played. In 1972, just before the United Nations was going to pass Resolution 2908 (Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples), China threatened the members that they have to agree on taking Hong Kong and Macau off the list of colonies in the EU. At that time, Fiji, Sweden and Venezuela objected this notion. The UK, based on the mainstream public opinion (which was remain to be a British colony, a status quo), wrote to the Secretary-General of the UN, objecting the General Assembly’s resolution that Hong Kong is China’s territory. Given that China had (and still has) a lot of “friends” in the UN, the UK had no choice but to accept the resolution and to focus on getting the the best for Hong Kong in preparation of it “being returned to China”.
This is how Hong Kong ended up having to be handed over to China. The noise calling for Hong Kong independence that recently surfaced is reasonable and legitimate.