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The Queen’s dying sends Hong Kong into widespread mourning for ‘free and civilized’ period regardless of sophisticated legacy of British rule

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In Hong Kong, the dying of Queen Elizabeth II has kindled a mass outpouring of mourning—alongside nostalgia for an advanced colonial legacy that many Hong Kongers nonetheless regard as the town’s golden age. 

On Monday, in blistering warmth and humidity, over 2,500 Hong Kongers stood in line for 3 hours to put flowers and pay their respects to the Queen outdoors of the British consulate, in line with the Financial Times. On Tuesday, the throngs of mourners reappeared and the crowds are anticipated to proceed into subsequent week.

The Queen’s dying prompted mixed reactions in former British colonies throughout Africa and Asia, with many mentioning that the royal household symbolized a legacy of exploitation, repression, and white supremacy.  

Britain used Hong Kong as a commerce port, monetary hub, and to develop its enterprise holdings at a time when its grip on different colonies was declining. When the British empire returned Hong Kong to Chinese language rule in 1997, many residents had been enthusiastic concerning the finish of British rule and being reunited with China. 

However within the post-handover period, many Hong Kongers started reminiscing about British colonial rule, particularly in gentle of a latest Chinese language authorities crackdown on freedom within the particular administrative area.

“The flowers for the Queen in Hong Kong is extra than simply mourning,” one Hong Kong activist tweeted. “It is usually a silent protest towards China’s reunification and oppression.”

Hong Kong below British rule

For almost half a century, Queen Elizabeth II served as Hong Kong’s head of state. 

Britain wrested management of Hong Kong from China in 1842, after the First Opium Battle compelled Beijing to cede Hong Kong island, and finally different territories that now make up Hong Kong. Britain used the Opium Battle to pry open Chinese language markets for British merchandise, particularly opium, after realizing that it had little that Chinese language residents needed. China regards this time as the beginning of its “century of humiliation.” 

Hong Kong skilled rising prosperity and democratic reforms later within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties. However the many years earlier than had been extra turbulent. 

Town skilled widespread riots in 1967, the place the protestors had been towards British rule and pro-China. Britain’s laissez-faire financial insurance policies helped colonial elites grow to be rich, but additionally created a extremely unequal society. 

Colonial police had been criticized for utilizing extreme power and repressing protests throughout 1967, and protests within the Eighties. Britain throughout its rule over Hong Kong by no means granted residents common suffrage.  

In 1997, the U.Ok. returned Hong Kong to China after 150 years of colonial rule. Below the phrases of the settlement, the Chinese language authorities promised to keep up Hong Kong’s political and social freedoms below a “one nation, two techniques” association to be in place till 2047. 

But many in Hong Kong regarded the 1997 handover as the top of a free and affluent period in Hong Kong. The return to Chinese language rule sparked a mass emigration wave; over 500,000 individuals fled Hong Kong for the U.Ok., Canada, and Australia from 1987 to 1996, in line with Hong Kong authorities figures. And since 1997, nostalgia and fondness for British rule has grown as Beijing tightens its grip over management of the city-state. 

An unlikely image of rise up 

Some Hong Kongers have additionally taken historically “British” symbols and redefined them as icons of freedom and prosperity over the previous few years. 

Throughout Hong Kong’s 2019 anti-government protests that gripped the town, protestors sang “God Save the Queen” and hung the U.Ok.’s Union Jack flag inside Hong Kong’s legislature. One 63-year-old protestor, referred to affectionately as “Grandma Wong,” grew to become identified for waving a big Union Jack flag through the protests. 

“I stand with Hong Kong’s future. I fear about Hong Kong youth. I miss colonial instances. The British colonial time was so good for us. I noticed the long run,” she told Reuters on the time. 

Nathan Regulation, a distinguished Hong Kong activist now in exile in London, tweeted on Sept. 8: “The Queen is liked by thousands and thousands of Hong Kong individuals. The ideas and prayers of us are with The Queen and her household.” 

One postgraduate pupil, 23-year-old Jack Chan, told the FT that he “shed tears” when he heard of the Queen’s dying. “These had been the higher days earlier than 1997. Issues have quickly diminished particularly over these previous few years,” he stated. 

The federal government crackdown after the 2019 protests has sparked a brand new emigration wave of Hong Kongers to the U.K. and different nations. Over 100,000 residents have left Hong Kong previously yr, resulting from stringent COVID-19 restrictions, but additionally due to a way of a lack of freedom and worry of repression. Lately, Hong Kong police have arrested 1000’s of activists, former lawmakers, and journalists. 

Nonetheless, the Chinese language authorities try to erase Hong Kong’s ties—and Hong Kongers’ sympathies—to British rule. 

This yr, the Chinese language authorities revamped textbooks utilized in Hong Kong faculties to emphasise that Hong Kong was by no means a British colony as a result of China by no means acknowledged the unequal treaties signed with Britain.  

But for a lot of Hong Kongers, the legacy of British rule will stay intertwined with their imaginative and prescient for Hong Kong. As one mourner wrote in a observe displayed outdoors of the British consulate: 

“You may be remembered on your class and legacy: a as soon as free and civilized Hong Kong. Thanks for the whole lot.”

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