Editor Marcus Lau Yee-ching (left) and political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung. Photos: Dickson Lee and Edward Wong

HKU student magazine says Hong Kong should become independent from China after 2047

But call for city to break away when Joint Declaration expires is dismissed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Beijing loyalists

Hong Kong should become a sovereign state recognised by the United Nations in 2047, according to the latest issue of the University of Hong Kong student magazine Undergrad.

An article headed “Hong Kong Youth’s Declaration” argues for the city’s independence on expiry of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which stipulates that Hong Kong should remain unchanged for 50 years from the handover.

“Even though Hong Kong doesn’t have the conditions to become independent yet ... whether independence is viable or not is not our main concern. The main point is whether Hong Kong should become independent”, the article says.

READ MORE: Seekers of Hong Kong independence must have the foresight and patience to walk a peaceful path

In addition to independence, it demands a democratic government be set up after 2047 and for the public to draw up the city’s constitution. It also denounces the Hong Kong government for becoming a “puppet” of the Communist Party, “weakening” the city’s ­autonomy.

... only Hongkongers can decide the future of Hong Kong when the Basic Law expires in 50 years

But the article’s claims were on Tuesday dismissed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Leung said that while Beijing had promised Hong Kong’s capitalistic systems and way of life would remain unchanged at least until 2047, “Hong Kong has been a part of China since ancient times, and this is a fact that will not change after 2047”. In last year’s policy address, Leung criticised the student publication for discussing independence.

The article was also slammed by a number of prominent Beijing loyalists.

HKU council chairman Arthur Li Kwok-cheung described the idea of independence as nonsense, adding: “I don’t think any wise person would listen.”

Alluding to mainland China, Li said: “Where would our water and food come from? Hong Kong’s future is good – it is a blessed place.”

READ MORE: Just imagine an independent Hong Kong

Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie said independence would be impossible. “In terms of culture, lineage and nationhood, we are one with the country,” she said.

Marcus Lau Yee-ching, editor of Undergrad, argued that “only Hongkongers can decide the future of Hong Kong when the Basic Law expires in 50 years”.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said calls for independence represent a “natural progression” in the city’s politics, as the SAR government has repeatedly failed to maintain Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

“Many young people are disappointed, in terms of political reform and failure to achieve universal suffrage” Choy said.