Why does China deny that Hong Kong was a British colony?


Beijing (AP) — Hong Kong is preparing to introduce a new middle school textbook that denies that China’s territory was once a British colony. Chinese Communist Party rulers say that the semi-autonomous city and nearby former Portuguese colony Macau were simply occupied by foreign powers, and China never relinquished their sovereignty.

It’s not a new position for China, but the move will force an interpretation of history and events and instill patriotism as it strengthens control over Hong Kong following a major protest demanding democracy in 2019. A further example of the determination of.

“Hong Kong has long been a territory of China,” said one of the new textbooks AP saw. “Hong Kong was occupied by Britain after the Opium War, but remained a Chinese territory.”

This is one of four sets of textbooks offered to schools to replace what is currently in use, all showing the same position, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported earlier this week. I did.

Was Hong Kong a colony?

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until the transition to Chinese rule, with the exception of the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. Colonial status was the result of two treaties of the 19th century signed at the end of the first and second. Opium Wars granted a 99-year lease to the new territory in 1898, significantly expanding the size of the colony.

The Chinese Communist Party, which seized power during the 1949 civil war, states that the former Qing dynasty never recognized what was called an “unequal treaty” that was forced to sign following a military defeat.

In the second half of the 20th century, China did not want to extend the leased land of the new territory, and the colony could not survive without the new territory. Britain has begun protracted, often controversial negotiations with Beijing on the conditions for returning Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

Finally, China dominated Hong Kong in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” arrangement. This will distinguish Hong Kong’s economic, political and judicial system from mainland China’s system for 50 years. The UK’s joint declaration has been registered with the United Nations, but China is currently refusing to approve the agreement.

Did this issue occur before?

Only months after the United Nations Chinese seat was moved to Beijing by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, who fled to Taiwan during the civil war in 1972, the government acted to remove Hong Kong and Macau, and in 1999 China’s. Returned to domination. It effectively deprives the United Nations colonial list of its right to self-determination.

When European countries granted independence to other colonies, China was afraid that the same would happen to the British and Portuguese excursions it wanted. “The resolution of the Hong Kong and Macau problem is entirely within China’s sovereignty and does not fall into the normal category of’colonial territory’at all,” said a Chinese representative at the time.

Mary Gallagher, who teaches Chinese studies at the University of Michigan, said Mao Zedong, then Chinese leader, wanted to ensure that Hong Kong remained part of China. “Therefore, Hong Kong moves between the Chinese and British empires, but loses the right to determine its future,” she said.

Why is Hong Kong changing textbooks now?

The new textbook is part of a widespread change to education following the 2019 protests in which many students participated and some students played a leading role.

The text is for a liberal arts class that the government overhauled last year after pro-Beijing lawmakers and supporters said they encouraged the ideas of opposition and activists. Classes are currently focusing on topics such as national security, patriotism, and identity.

The textbook promotes the official view that the protests were the result of foreign turmoil and threatened national security. The Beijing government used such debates to pass Hong Kong’s radical National Security Act in 2020, reducing freedom of speech, criticism of authorities, and political opposition.

Authorities began National Security Education Day on April 15, encouraging students to learn more about national security and participate in educational activities that emphasize the importance of protecting China.

Where is this leading?

The new textbooks are part of the impetus to more closely align Hong Kong’s institutional values ​​with mainland China’s institutional values, especially in the areas of politics and history. Increasingly, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is imposing his vision of strong nationalism and increasingly authoritarian rule in the region.

China’s 1989 bloody suppression of student-led protests centered around Tiananmen Square in Beijing because of pandemic concerns about banning a major public memorial ceremony in Hong Kong on June 4. I have been trying to eradicate my memory.

“The Communist Party has a monopoly on the truth and history of China,” said Steve Tsang, a Chinese political expert at SOAS University of London. “In Xi’s approach to history, the facts are just a coincidence. Only interpretations are important, and only one interpretation is allowed.”