Hong Kong in China: Rethinking the Hong Kong-Mainland Relationship (Part 2)
Photo Credit: The Economist
By Christine Loh and Richard Cullen

Hong Kong in China: Rethinking the Hong Kong-Mainland Relationship (Part 2)

Dec. 09, 2018  |     |  0 comments


Can Hong Kong envisage a progressive future within China? We recently published a short book, with Abbreviated Press in Hong Kong, entitled, No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story, to address this question. We feel that there remains a need for a further, more thorough discussion about Hong Kong’s future. We are grateful to the IPP Review for enabling us to publish this extended discussion, Hong Kong in China, with the generous agreement of Abbreviated Press. (Sections within Hong Kong in China repeat text and arguments found in No Third Party.)

Part 1 of Hong Kong in China was published by the IPP Review on November 12, 2018. Part 1 provided a general introduction of the historical background of Hong Kong seen from British and Chinese perspectives over the last two centuries. It also explained the constitutional and legal structure of Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty and considered how this regime has operated when placed under stress.

Part 2 now sets out Hong Kong’s economic fundamentals and also reviews the geo-political stresses affecting the Hong Kong-mainland relationship. Part 3 will investigate how Hong Kong can get unstuck and – building on this – how Hong Kong can construct its new narrative – the story of Hong Kong in China.

VI. The Bygone British Hong Kong Arbitrage

The ability of autocratic regimes to compete with economic performance of liberal democracies is a particularly important and novel development.

Yasha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa

Hong Kong people’s collective political memory has to do with China’s post-1949 history and their own treasured, free lifestyle in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been a place of refuge, where the people were able to arbitrage the difficult circumstances on the mainland while residing in the British-held colony. Pre-1997 Hong Kong was a political anomaly but was considered a “miracle.” After 1997, Hong Kong people must reconcile that they are Chinese nationals and part of the People’s Republic of China. Their future is hitched to that of the nation and they can no longer arbitrage in the way they did before.

Collective memories

Accepting that China has resumed full sovereign power over Hong Kong has not been easy for many Hong Kong people. Older generations retain vivid memories of the 1960s when the city was rocked by the Cultural Revolution on the mainland and deadly confrontation seeped across the border for some months.

That period fundamentally turned them off the Chinese Communist Party because of the senseless violence and the fact was China was economically backward and the people poor. Revolution was not going to do anything to improve the country. Tens of thousands of people, mostly from nearby Guangdong, took enormous risks to escape to Hong Kong because it was in British hands. Between 1965 and 1975, the population rose from 3.59 million to 4.46 million, an increase of over 870,000 people.

Hong Kong was not only safe for the refugees but economically attractive. From the 1950s, Hong Kong had developed a robust manufacturing economy. Growth in the 1960s had much to do with producing labour-intensive consumer goods for export to the West. The ‘Made in Hong Kong’ label was well-known in Western markets.

While revolution engulfed the mainland, Hong Kong prospered from trade and commerce. Hong Kong produced movies, songs, and entertainment which were trendsetters in Asia. There was plenty of work and many money-making opportunities for everyone in the flourishing colony. Hong Kong was exciting and innovative. The West was where Hong Kong people saw promise – not the mainland.

East-West geopolitics

Hong Kong’s arbitrage was possible because of the on-going East-West struggle, embodied by the Cold War, where two contending political ideologies clashed. Each of the two most powerful nations – the Soviet Union and the United States – had their sphere of influence. Like the Soviet Union, China practised communism and was thus part of the glum communist bloc. The United States was capitalist, democratic and vibrant – its values and system appeared to possess the political DNA that made a country successful.

Moreover, communism is not just about economics. The institutional design of communist states is very different from those of Western democracies. Communist states have the communist party as the ‘vanguard of the proletariat,’ in which the party represents the people’s interests and its political dominance is absolute. Vladimir Lenin popularised the phrase. He saw the establishment was hostile to communism and to survive, a close-knit group of communists from the working class was needed to safeguard it. Thus, the party had to act as the vanguard of the working class. Indeed, this kind of entity is a ‘party-state,’ where the state controls society, and the party controls the state.

China, today, has adapted its own party-state dramatically and successfully in many ways and especially administratively and economically. But its political essence still adheres to these basic organisational principles of a party-state. As it happens, China’s embrace of this mode of governance resonates well with governance systems developed over many centuries during China’s very long imperial era.

Western democracies have multiparty elections and widely-enfranchised voters elect the government of the day. The government and its officers are supposed to act within the law, as defined by the courts. The powers of the executive, legislature and courts are typically separate. The ‘separation of powers’ is meant to act as a check on the different parts of the governing structure – an element missing in a communist system, in which the party is the commanding force.

‘Communists’ are considered authoritarians, while ‘democrats’ are supposed to respect individual liberties because democracies must respond to the electorate. Furthermore, the economic success of capitalist-democratic economies was testament to the fact that communism and communist political systems were ‘bad’ and capitalism and liberal democracies were ‘good.’

As a British colony, Hong Kong was part of the capitalist-liberal ‘West.’ Even though the people did not elect the government, Hong Kong’s system was seen to have many winning virtues – light regulation, low taxes, free markets, personal liberties and rule of law. In the words of Milton Friedman, the famous economist:

… the real miracle of Hong Kong is that it’s had a free market … What happened to all the other British colonies after the end of World War II? They got their independence. Which one has done well? Name one. If Hong Kong had simply been given its independence, it would have gone the way of all the other colonies: It would have tried to be a welfare state and it would have been mired in the same stagnation as India or Kenya.

End of history?

The Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher era (1979-1990), when they led the United States and Britain respectively, opposed communism and supported democracy, championed capitalism, cut back state regulation, supported privatisation and weakened labour unions. When communist states in Eastern Europe begun to peel away from Soviet influence in 1989 and the Soviet Union disintegrated altogether in 1991, ‘the end of history’ had arguably arrived – Western liberal democracy was endorsed by Francis Fukuyama as the final, evolved form of human governance:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the ‘end of history’ as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

China’s ‘Open Door’

China adopted new policies in 1978. China’s leader, Deng Xiaoping, admired the “Four Asian Dragons” – Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea – and their achievements. He sought to learn from them to help China modernise. Hong Kong people remember the early reforms Beijing adopted. Most significant for them was the setting up of special economic zones, starting with Shenzhen in 1980. Investors wishing to establish new manufacturing plants across the border were actively welcomed.

These new policies enabled Hong Kong businessmen to take advantage of cheap land and labour to multiply China’s production capabilities swiftly and remarkably. Hong Kong people were able to navigate the many challenges of dealing with a China that had eliminated private business for several decades. Many fortunes were made. At the same time, Hong Kong’s economy was transformed by the growth of high-value services, many of which supported the expansion of manufacturing and logistics on the mainland.

Hong Kong people saw themselves as teachers and facilitators assisting the mainland as it began to step back onto the world stage. The better educated and more sophisticated people in Hong Kong saw mainlanders as country bumpkins.

Tiananmen 1989

China’s path to reform and development was far from smooth. There were many arguments among the top leadership over the pace and direction of reform. The reforms benefitted some and left others far behind. Rumblings of social discontent burst forth in the late 1980s. The flashpoint came in 1989. After weeks of student-led protest centered on Tiananmen Square (which galvanised many quarters of Chinese society) came the abrupt, brutal suppression. Hong Kong people’s sympathies were with the protesters. After the PLA was sent to suppress protesters on 4 June, China became a pariah around the world.

About five years earlier, Hong Kong people had already begun to fear for their future when the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984. Many families sought foreign passports as insurance, and many emigrated, mainly to English-speaking Western countries. Britain was under intense pressure to do more for the people of Hong Kong. A new 1990 arrangement allowed for up to 50,000 selected people and their families to be granted British passports.

The emphasis for Hong Kong to elect its own political leaders became urgent. Election was considered the best solution for Hong Kong people to be able to stand up to Beijing post-1997 – the assumption was elected leaders would have the legitimacy needed to protect Hong Kong’s interests against what Beijing might do.

The Basic Law, promulgated in 1991, provided that the election by universal suffrage of the chief executive and the legislature could be achieved after 2007 – a decade after reunification. At the same time, Beijing was concerned that Hong Kong should not become a base for anti-China activities (the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China was founded in May 1989, and its goals include ending “one-party dictatorship” in China). Article 23 was also tightened in the Basic Law to safeguard ‘national security.’ Article 23, discussed in Part 1, requires the HKSAR to pass its own laws safeguarding national security – a task yet to be completed.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was an assumption in the West that the ‘end of history’ narrative might apply to China too; that market reforms, which continued even after Tiananmen, could eventually lead the Chinese people to demand democratic reform.

For Hong Kong people, as well as the West, the achievement of elections by universal suffrage became the bellwether indicator of the political health of Hong Kong post-1997.

China’s steady rise

The CCP did not collapse after Tiananmen. Its pariah status was short-lived. The belief that China was on an irreversible trend towards democracy and that political reform would accompany economic reforms proved to be wishful thinking. As Andrew Nathan explained:

Instead, the regime brought inflation under control, restarted economic growth, expanded foreign trade, and increased its absorption of foreign direct investment. It restored normal relations with the G-7 countries that had imposed sanctions, resumed the exchange of summits with the United States, presided over the retrocession of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty and won the right to hold the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

China embarked on a range of political reforms to promote ‘political meritocracy,’ which included reforming its bureaucracy to include democratic features, such as accountability, competition and partial limits on power. Its reforms strengthened the party-state through building governing capabilities but election by universal suffrage was not (and is not) on the cards. China may well have created a ‘unique hybrid: autocracy with democratic characteristics’:

In practice, tweaks to rules and incentives within China’s public administration have quietly transformed an ossified communist bureaucracy into a highly adaptive capitalist machine.

The CCP believes political stability is vital for China to focus on the vast work needed to pull the country out of poverty and develop gradually but consistently. Multi-party elections, like those in liberal democracies, could not guarantee essential policy continuity. In the minds of Chinese leaders, the true test of effective government must surely be performance and successful policy outcomes, and China’s transformation since 1978 has been positive. China’s ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ can no longer be scoffed at.

Belief system turned upside down

In a democracy, every voter is equal and autonomous and its major advantage over other political systems is that it provides a fair and peaceful way to replace leaders. The argument that democracy is morally superior to authoritarianism still holds water intellectually but one-person-one-vote and universal suffrage as a system to choose political leaders masks a host of actual inequalities and divisions in society. Just because everyone has a vote, that does not guarantee the electorate would elect people who could govern or act in the widest interest of society.

The United States and Europe are not coping well with many intractable internal issues, such as race and immigration, healthcare, and large wealth inequalities; and external threats, such as terrorism and regional conflicts. In Europe, internal cohesion challenges arising from ‘Brexit’ and more generally present current, acute problems for the European Union.

Hong Kong’s political existence today is centrally framed by China’s success, the problems of Western democracies, and pivotal challenges to the rise of China.

Elections by universal suffrage are not proving to be an effective ‘check’ on politicians and their policies, and neither have they healed social divisions. Not only were differences amplified to galvanise support but falsehoods were peddled, and sophisticated data mining methods have allegedly been used to manipulate public emotions and opinion in Britain’s Brexit referendum and in the American presidential election in 2016. Fringe politicians have gotten elected, which allowed them to demand policies that departed from the liberal tradition. A current major debate within Western democracies is whether they are experiencing a severe liberal democratic setback.

Worse, there is an expert expectation that:

… the world is now approaching a striking milestone: within the next five years, the share of global income held by countries considered ‘not free’ – such as China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia – will surpass the share held by Western liberal democracies.

It cannot be refuted that China’s steady rise in economic terms has made the country a much better place to live for so many of its vast population. There are many problems still to deal with, and the Chinese authorities are the first to admit this. Indeed, they argue that is precisely why they need stable politics to solve problems and why they are not about to implement multiparty elections. To the CCP, it must remain the sole vanguard of the people to deal with the deep twin fears of internal rebellion and external challenges.

Western democracies are unable to articulate long-term plans because of short election cycles. China lays out plans and targets that go out to 2025, 2035 and 2050, which has also created fears in the West, especially the United States, that the China system is a threat. While China’s stage of development is still very far behind the West in many respects, it is making steady advances from year to year.

Hong Kong’s political existence today is centrally framed by China’s success, the problems of Western democracies, and pivotal challenges to the rise of China. This is the demanding context which surrounds the pursuit of election by universal suffrage in Hong Kong today.

Hong Kong needs to adjust its view on the old British Hong Kong arbitrage. While Hong Kong can remain a very privileged intermediary for the mainland, it cannot use Hong Kong to challenge Beijing’s deepest governing sensitivities over national unity and territorial integrity (i.e. internal rebellion and external challenge). While it can continue to pursue electoral reforms, the free speech ‘fundamentalism’ now entrenched in the United States, for example, does not fit within this framework. When free elections come, controls on absolute rights of free speech and association (which can threaten national unity) will apply.

In a new era of contending geopolitics with Hong Kong being a part of the People’s Republic, its loyalty to China should not be in doubt. The achievement of elections by universal suffrage in Hong Kong does not have to be the key bellwether measure of its overall health – indeed, that would be too narrow because there are numerous ways to secure progress. Hong Kong’s new arbitrage role, as China’s rise continues, should be based on the many flexibilities embedded in the Basic Law, which no other Chinese city except Macao enjoys.

VII. Shifting Geo-Politics and Hong Kong

The Chinese government is implementing a comprehensive, long-term industrial strategy to ensure its global dominance … Beijing’s ultimate goal is for domestic companies to replace foreign companies as designers and manufacturers of key technology and products first at home, and then abroad.

US-China Economic Security Review Commission, 2017 Annual Report

The Chinese don’t want conflict … but at the end of the day they want every country around the world, when it's deciding its interests on policy issues, to first and foremost side with China and not the United States, because the Chinese are increasingly defining a conflict with the United States and what we stand behind as a systems conflict.

Michael Collins, CIA East Asia Mission Center, Deputy Assistant Director, July 2018

Two major geopolitical aspects are changing international relations. The logic of the cross-Atlantic alliance between the United States and Western Europe acting as the bulwark against Russia has changed; and the rapid rise of China is presenting new challenges and opportunities that will reshape international affairs for decades to come. Moreover, a new type of contest has begun in cyberspace with foreign interference in elections, the full details of which are unfolding and giving new meaning to sovereignty, security and freedoms. Hong Kong must be sensitive to these changes and rethink its relationship with the mainland to ensure that there is no doubt about which side it is on. It must remain loyal to China.

‘Trade wars’

After months of threatening rhetoric and negotiations to prevent escalation, a widespread “trade war” started in May 2018 with the United States slapping tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, including from neighbours and allies – Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The United States also imposed sweeping tariffs in June 2018 on a large range of imports from China effective from 6 July. In each case, tariff retaliations were put on American imports although trade tensions between the United States and the European Union began to ease, for the present at least, towards the end of July after top level meetings to avert further souring of relations.

Furthermore, in concluding the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade in October 2018, the United States pushed through a clause stipulating that each of the three parties to the deal had a right to be informed about any negotiations on a free-trade agreement with a ‘non-market economy’ – clearly targeting China – at an early stage. Each party can then review any such deal signed by another member.

As we write, the United States is threatening to impose still more sweeping tariffs at elevated rates to virtually all imported Chinese products from January 2019. If these additional tariffs are fully implemented, they will result in a de facto increase in the total amount of American consumption taxation of around 20%, when the earlier tariffs are also taken into account.

The United States’ actions were not aimed just to bring down trade deficits with its trading partners. The substantial tariffs were also meant to change relationships in ‘a new era of American trade policy.’ American officials were explicit that there were ‘national security’ considerations because the level of importation of steel and aluminium was supposedly weakening American’s domestic economy and therefore threatened to impair national security. The American narrative stresses the multilateral systems it helped built after WWII no longer benefit the United States, which is why it has pressed the re-set button to renegotiate all sorts of American agreements with the world.

In the case of China, the United States criticised it for having ‘a statist economic model with a large and growing government role … and that it engaged in unreasonable and discriminatory efforts to obtain US technology and intellectual property.’ It was explicitly articulated in the first round of tariffs, that in their choice of products, American officials included those in China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ plan. This plan advances the domestic capability of strategic sectors, such as IT products, aerospace, robotics, and electric vehicles. The United States believes that if ‘… these are things [where] … China dominates the world, it’s bad for America.’ The United States is concerned about China’s aspirations to be a leader in these industries of the future.

If the problem is just trade, the two sides can solve the trade imbalance currently in China’s favour quite easily. The United States is blessed with enormous quantities of shale oil and natural gas, now extractable using fracking technology. This means America no longer needs to rely on the Middle East in the foreseeable future for crude oil. Indeed, it will also have enormous exporting capabilities when more delivery pipelines and port infrastructure are completed in the next few years. Even as renewable energy becomes more important in the energy mix of many economies, the United States can become a much more significant oil and natural gas supplier to China and others around the world. China requires high volume, diversified energy supplies in the form of crude oil, piped natural gas, as well as shipped liquified natural gas (LNG) to sustain its development. Its trade surplus with the United States can be reduced significantly with increased import of LNG in the coming years. The United States is already China’s fifth-largest LNG supplier and its need for this cleaner hydrocarbon will continue to grow, as China reduces coal in its energy mix to improve air quality and mitigate climate change. The United States is building more exporting infrastructure as China is constructing additional importing facilities. Beyond energy products, China must continue to import grains and food, and North America is a vital source. Thus, there are complementary opportunities for China and the United States to deepen cooperation.

Yet, China is increasingly seen as the most serious ‘foe’ America has faced in its post-WW II history. American security and policy-setting agencies are openly working to contain and stop China from ‘replacing the US as the world’s leading superpower.’ The China problem is described as a ‘systems conflict.’ One of China’s top diplomats, Fu Ying, explained what this means:

The real causes for tension are many and various. Competition among the new drivers of growth, industry and technology is a source of unease. So, too, are the seismic political realignments in liberal democracies. It also seems that the US and other Western countries, driven by their suspicion of different political systems, have become more wary or even fearful of China’s success under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

Not surprisingly, China sees things differently. China argues America should not worry: US GDP grew from US$5.98 trillion in 1990 to US$19.39 trillion in 2017, an increase of US$35,577 per capita. Meanwhile, China’s GDP per capita over the same period grew to US$8,509. Chinese officials believe it would be fair to say America and China grew together but the United States is still a very long way ahead.

Beyond trade, the is another strand to the ‘systems conflict.’ It has to do with China’s constitutional and political system. Western liberal democracy and Chinese socialism are being seen as competing systems. The view from the West is that the Chinese system cannot succeed, or sustain growth and development over the long-term, while Chinese leaders see their success over the past four decades as testament to the evolution of an alternative system not based on Western capitalist liberal values.

There is a final dimension to the equation. China and the United States are locked in a complex co-dependent relationship. Since 2008, China has been the largest holder of America’s treasury bills worth over almost US$1.2 trillion. In other words, China is the United States’ largest foreign creditor. Americans have low savings but want to consume while the Chinese have high savings. By spending more than saving, the United States needs to borrow from overseas while running current-account and trade deficits to attract foreign capital.

The blow-by-blow details of the trade war are less important than the overall picture of a systems conflict. There is a geopolitical re-set happening where China looms large, and where the United States, still the dominant power by a long stretch, seeks to preserve its pre-eminence.

Evolving power relations

China understands its situation and needs very well.

Up until 2012, China adopted a low profile in international politics to focus on building up its economy. It recognised the United States as the major power. Under Hu Jintao’s leadership (2003-13), China promoted peaceful co-existence with the concept of a ‘harmonious world’ that would accommodate different ideologies and political systems around the world. In the Xi Jinping era starting in 2013, China proposed the concept of building ‘a new model of great power relations’ based on no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In other words, China would not challenge America’s position, it would adopt a cooperative approach within the existing architecture of international affairs, but it wanted the space to grow and evolve in its own way with its own ideology and political system. Despite reticence on the part of the United States to adopt the new Chinese great power rhetoric, the two countries were still able to find common cause to exert their joint influence and cooperate on climate change as the world’s two largest carbon emitters, leading to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement under United Nations auspices in 2015.

The trade war between the United States and China in 2018 is a signal that America sees its primacy under threat in the longer-term and it is taking explicitly aggressive action to change that trajectory. Meanwhile, China has replaced its great power rhetoric with the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ to promote trade and mutual prosperity, as a counterweight to protectionist sentiments, as well as to rally others to a ‘broad community of shared interests.’ The United States announced its new Indo-Pacific Economic Vision in July 2018 as its counterweight against China, with Australia and Japan being the earliest partners.

Narratives will be created and adjusted, as China and the United States reposition and jockey towards a new equilibrium. There are complementarities in trade as supplier and consumer, creditor and debtor; but there are also major differences over competing spheres of influence, especially in Asia. Moreover, China and the United States operate under contrasting ideologies that will create friction that could put the world on edge from time to time. Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, put it this way on November 15, 2018: ‘The US-China relationship is the most important set of bilateral relations, and has profound implications.’ He made it clear that ASEAN countries do not want to be put in a position where they have to take sides: ‘ASEAN countries want to be able to engage with both US and China, and maximise the scope and advantages of our cooperation. Therefore, we hope that the US-China relations remain stable and hope that all will work out.’

Cyber contest

While the United States accuses China of intellectual property theft and supporting cyber-attacks on American companies to access trade secrets, what is breathtaking are the details arising from official investigations by the United States of Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election. The indictment issued against specific Russian nationals describes how cyberspace was used to manipulate information and emotions of voters to steer the election outcome in one country by another country. While governments have a long history of attempting to influence the outcome of elections in other countries, the alleged Russian interference in the American election shows how cyberspace provides a much more direct way to reach very large numbers of the electorate to feed them with targeted messages. An earlier report had also detailed similar interference in Britain with the Brexit referendum. Such activities present a new way to destabilise adversaries from ‘within.’

Diplomacy fervour

China is expanding its diplomatic strengths as a matter of priority at a time when new alliances and strategies are needed. There has been a whirl in Chinese diplomatic efforts to respond to the geopolitical shifts in many parts of the world in the past year, especially involving China’s neighbours. China is searching for a ‘new script’ emphasising cooperation, engagement and win-win outcomes.

Hong Kong and Taiwan

The blow-by-blow power plays between China and the United States are less important than the overall direction. China’s economic rise is the foundation of its increasing influence in trade, technology, finance, diplomacy and military affairs. For well over 2,000 years, China’s paramount national security concern has been instability around its borders that could challenge its territorial integrity. This concern remains pivotal today. Moreover, China is constantly watchful in case such matters should draw attention away from development, thus slowing down its national rejuvenation.

Among its security concerns are Hong Kong and Taiwan – more so the latter than the former. Calls from a small number of Hong Kong activists for ‘self-determination’ and ‘independence’ are controllable. Action taken in mid-2018 against the Hong Kong Nationalist Party (which advocates independence for Hong Kong) under the Societies Ordinance confirms this. Beijing’s key concern is to ensure that foreign powers cannot use Hong Kong as a base to whip up such sentiments, especially by influencing or supporting separatist parties or groups in any way.

Taiwan is another matter altogether. China’s six-day live-fire military drill in the East China Sea in mid-July 2018 was a stern warning that its naval forces could blockade Taiwan. For Hong Kong, the worst transgression in Beijing’s eyes is for activists in Hong Kong to team up with Taiwan pro-independence politicians and pressure groups during this sensitive time of geopolitical shifts, when national leaders are most concerned about whether the United States may test Beijing’s resolve over Taiwan. China’s live-fire drill was meant to send a clear message.

Final word

At this time, when relations between the US and China are at their most tense since the post-Mao era began, Hong Kong must be both smart and watchful. The HKSAR will continue to experience strong, prima facie well intentioned pressures from outside urging Hong Kong to stand up forcefully against Beijing’s argued failure to respect its autonomy under the ‘one country two systems’ formula. These arguments, claiming fundamental malfunctions in the operation of the ‘one country two systems’ regime, are not well-grounded (see Part I).

To deploy Hong Kong’s much-treasured freedom of speech as either a sword or a shield to support pro-independence or self-determination expression is misguided. Beijing would simply not allow this. It would be equally unwise for Hong Kong to allow itself to be drawn into the growing contest between Beijing and Washington as any kind of implicit ally of the latter.

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