The United States Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the three most important US official documents. The Declaration of Independence was mainly drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and then adopted by the Second Continental Congress on 4 July, 1776, which subsequently became the Independence Day of USA. The Declaration lists the reasons why USA decided to separate from Great Britain and create a new nation, i.e., the ways in which Great Britain maltreated its colonies in North America. This article examines whether there are similarities between how Britain treated the united states and how China is treating Hong Kong. In each of the paragraphs below, there will be first a quotation from the Declaration, to be matched with a relevant situation in Hong Kong.
Initially, Autonomy was All that was Asked for
Though the American Revolutionary War began in April 1775, the colonies did not initially demand complete separation from British rule; instead they sought more autonomy within the British Empire. However, British treatment of the American colonists as clear rebels over the opening months of the conflict leant weight to arguments for independence (cf. Stephen Conway 2018). “we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpation… They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation”.
Originally, Hongkongers only asked for “one country, two systems” under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and genuine autonomy under the Basic Law of HK, so that their life-style will remain the same as under British rule. However, since the handover from the UK to China in 1997, China has been vigorously eroding the autonomy and freedom of Hong Kong: It has willfully and repeatedly interpreted the Basic Law at the expense of Hongkongers’ rights; with the help of finance and real estates tycoons, it has pushed up Hong Kong property prices and rentals to the top level of the world, so that a huge number of Hongkongers cannot find a decent place to live; by means of the Pubic Order Ordinance, and via the HK puppet government, it has been immoderately arresting, prosecuting and heavily sentencing political dissidents; with the educational policy of encouraging and enticing HK schools to adopt Putonghua as a medium of instruction, it has been destroying Hong Kong Cantonese, which for 170 years has been one of the de facto official oral languages of HK (the other being English); it has disqualified democratically elected dissident lawmakers; it has comprehensively infiltrated all sectors of Hong Kong, including education, media, politics, business, religion, etc.; it has been suppressing press freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of association in HK; it has been depleting the HK Treasury in the name of white elephant projects; it has been undermining the HK-China border by way of cross-border projects; it has deprived Hongkongers of the right to full democratic election or universal suffrage. It is only under such circumstances that many young Hongkongers have begun to support separation from China.
(to be continued)