My Take

Advocates of Hong Kong independence have no allies

Even the British, our former colonial masters, want nothing to do with such folly, let alone any other sane government

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 3:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 3:32am

Every localist, separatist and colonial flag-waving malcontent who wants Hong Kong to break away from the mainland should read the latest Post interview with outgoing British consul general Caroline Wilson. I say this not because I want to attract more hits and eyeballs to our website.

Rather, the British diplomat is explaining the most obvious and basic truth about “one country, two systems”, which with the noisy and heated debates about independence, it tends to be forgotten or overlooked.

Balance freedom of debate with respect for law, says outgoing British consul general

She said the British government had made it clear it did not support Hong Kong’s independence, and she felt the idea “doesn’t make any sense”.

“All has to be done with respect for the law and the broader constitutional framework in Hong Kong,” she said. “As the representative of the country that signed the [Sino-British] Joint Declaration, I support freedoms to be exercised in Hong Kong, but I also have to recognise ... Hong Kong’s constitutional structure.”

She added that she considered “one country, two systems” principle that governs Hong Kong “an unprecedented success”.

Those who wave the colonial flag during anti-government or anti-Beijing protests may fantasise about the paradise that was once colonial Hong Kong, but those days are long gone and will never come back. The Brits don’t support you. They don’t want us. If anything, they side with Beijing.

And they are not necessarily being immoral, irresponsible or cynical. No, they negotiated the Joint Declaration; and the notions of “one country, two systems” and of 50 years of maintaining Hong Kong’s social, economic and political systems and way of life that became the foundation of the Basic Law.

British consul general: Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ has worked ‘incredibly well’ since 1997 handover to China

If the Brits were to support independence, they would breach their own treaty obligations. But the British government is not alone. Every government in the world recognises “one country, two systems” and the status of Hong Kong as an inalienable part of China. The world simply has too much invested, in terms of foreign and economic policies, in intellectual and financial capital, in China and “one country two, systems” to operate otherwise. The most they would do to come to your defence is to take up what may be called the Voltaire position: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Any successful struggle for independence requires outside recognition of its justice and legitimacy. Hong Kong’s separatists have neither.