Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square: China’s Dissolution of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong
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Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square: China’s Dissolution of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong
10 June @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the events culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4th 1989, it is important to note that the Chinese Communist Party does not – despite its insistence on this point – speak for all Chinese. Nowhere is that more true than Hong Kong, where strong identity issues have arisen over the past three decades. While it is true that the handover in 1997 saw a high point in pan-Chinese nationalism in Hong Kong, the continual erosion of the Basic Law and imposition of mainland Chinese education and practices, have produced quite a sharp reaction among pro-democracy elements of the population. As a result, increasing numbers of young Hongkongers question their very connection to the mainland, a trend that has created an ever-sharpening reaction in Beijing.
This report notes the growing worries and concerns of pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, charting the gradual erosion in press freedoms, rule of law, and other liberties previously enjoyed by Hong Kong. It also assembles a number of authors who look at this process from the British perspective, raising an important question of Britain’s responsibility to the former colony.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to the report launch of Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square: China’s dissolution of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong.
Evan Fowler is a co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press and the author of the report ‘Thirty Years After Tiananmen Square: China’s dissolution of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong’. He has run several research projects exploring local identity issues. He has written about social, identity and generational issues for the South China Morning Post, China Daily, Asia Sentinel, Suddeutsche, the Indo-Pacific Review and others. He was also a regular contributor to House News.
Benedict Rogers is a British human rights activist and writer based in London. His work focuses on Asia, specialising particularly in Burma, North Korea, China and Indonesia, but has also covered the Maldives, East Timor and Pakistan. He is the East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organization CSW, and a regular contributor to international media including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Diplomat and the Huffington Post and has appeared on BBC, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and other television and radio stations. He is the co-founder and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party’s human rights commission, and authored its 2016 report on China, The Darkest Moment: the Crackdown on Human Rights in China 2013-2016, its report on forced organ harvesting in China and its forthcoming report on China’s Confucius Institutes. He is also the founder and Chairman of Hong Kong Watch, and was refused entry to Hong Kong in 2017. He is co-founder of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea, a member of the advisory board of the International Coalition to End Organ Trafficking in China (ETAC), and a trustee of the Phan Foundation and the Chin Human Rights Foundation. He has written three books which focus on Burma and co-authored two others on Christian human rights obligations.
Milia Hau is a British foreign policy researcher with a keen interest in the Indo-Pacific. She was formerly Research Assistant at the Henry Jackson Society, where she worked on a number of issues relating to Asia. She has a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, she wrote her World History thesis on the Anglo-Chinese negotiations over the Future of Hong Kong in 1982-84; it is deposited at the Conservative Party Archive at Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford and the Labour Party Archive in Manchester. Her article titled ‘Second-class Britons? Why Hongkongers should get UK citizenship’ was published by CapX.
Dr. John Hemmings is the Director of the Asia Studies Centre and Deputy Research Director at the Henry Jackson Society. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. His research focuses on China, Japan, the Korea’s and security and foreign affairs in the Indo-Pacific. Prior to HJS, he worked in the Asia Programme at the Royal United Services Institute. He has a doctorate in international relations from the London School of Economics and writes for the Telegraph, the Interpreter, and the National Interest, among others.
Fiona Bruce MP is an MP for Congleton. Fiona was first elected as Member of Parliament for the Congleton Constituency in 2010. During her time as a Member of Parliament Fiona focused on championing individual freedoms and human rights, both in this country and abroad. Fiona has been a member of Parliament’s International Development Select Committee for several years and currently chairs the Parliamentary sub-committee overseeing the Independent Commission on Aid Inspections. Up to this election period, she has served on the Parliamentary Joint-Committee on Human Rights. She is also Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, an appointment made by the then-Prime Minister.
On the 10th of June the Henry Jackson Society hosted a panel discussion entitled: Thirty Years after Tiananmen Square: China’s dissolution of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong. The panel was hosted by Fiona Bruce MP, and included DR. John Hemmings, Even Fowler, Milia Hau and Benedict Rogers.
Fiona Bruce opened the event by noting the pertinence of this discussion in the face of the recent protests by Hong Kongers over the recently proposed extradition bill, and described how the continual erosion of human rights in Hong Kong has led to many of its people questioning their ties to the mainland.
She then introduced Benedict Rogers, who described how the people of Hong Kong were right to fear this bill, noting how it came at the heels of the expulsion of pro-democracy candidates in local elections, the arrest of peaceful protestors and the stifling of press freedom. He also focused the climate of fear that Beijing is currently trying to cultivate in Hong Kong, describing the experiences of Lam Wing-Kee, a bookseller who was kidnapped from Hong Kong and ‘mentally tortured’ on the mainland for eight months. When he asked what crime he had committed, he was simply told, “If we say you have committed a crime, you have committed a crime.”
Next was Milia Hau, who argued that the idea that China’s increasing prosperity would lead to political liberalisation has now been thoroughly discredited. The authoritarianism of the mainland is already well on its way to being reproduced in Hong Kong Hau argued, and this is amply demonstrated by the fact that despite the intensity of the protests there has been no real discussion of policy change by the authorities in Hong Kong. Hau went on to argue that the British bear the heaviest responsibility in challenging the erosion of liberty in Hong Kong, and that we should grant full British citizenship to the people of Hong Kong.
John Hemmings discussed his belief that the success of Chinese authoritarianism on the world stage marked a significant geopolitical shift. He argued that while all nations had a right to pursue their own national interests, regime type matters. Dr Hemmings noted his admiration for the people of China and their history, arguing that the influence of the Chinese Communist Party over both Hong Kong and the mainland was a tragedy. This was an issue where the British could prove that they are not the paper tiger that Beijing assumes, if only they can rediscover their spine in time.
The final speaker was Evan Fowler, who described how journalists and editors murdered over lack of support for the CCP, noting that he was himself threatened for lack for support for anti-occupy Hong Kong coverage. Fowler also described the heart-break felt by many Hong Kongers as they realise that their children will grow up in a world where the freedoms that they took for granted have been slowly eroded. Fowler concluded by arguing that it is imperative that the UK to stand up and assert itself in defence of Hong Kong. If not now, when?
The event then closed with a round of questions and answers.
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