Hong Kong independence movement suffering
The High Court of Hong Kong has disqualified two pro-independence lawmakers from taking their seats in parliament and, in the process, thrown Hong Kong’s politics into disarray. Baggio ‘Sixtus’ Leung and Yau Wai-ching were elected on behalf of the pro-independence party Youngspiration in September but altered their parliamentary oaths to insult the Chinese government and are now barred from holding legislative positions in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region and an autonomous authority within the People’s Republic of China. It has occupied this somewhat precarious position in China since gaining independence from the UK in 1997 and its exact level of autonomy from the mainland has always been debated.
The Youngspiration party was founded in 2015 following the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ of 2014 which saw 100,000 people out on the streets protesting the latest Chinese central government interference in the Hong Kong electoral system.
The Youngspiration group believe in complete self-determination for Hong Kong and are hoping to hold a referendum on the issue in 2020 with the result becoming legally binding in 2047 following the scheduled end of China’s “one country, two systems” scheme – the way former Party leader found to Deng Xiaoping reconcile the differing ideologies within China. Everything would come under the Chinese umbrella, but certain areas, such as Hong Kong and Macau, would be able to run their societies in a more capitalist way.
Obviously these hopes for further self-determination have suffered a significant setback with the jailing of pro-independence leaders and it is unclear where the movement goes from here.
A hallmark of the government presided over by the current General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, has been an decreasing tolerance for freedom of expression and the media, lawyers and so-called dissidents have suffered. History tells us that pressing the Chinese government too hard on matters like human rights and self-determination tends to have the opposite effect to what is desired and it is unlikely that pleas or peaceful protests will sway the government or the judiciary on this matter.
Beijing is not likely to compromise with people wishing to break away from China and suddenly the future of Youngspiration, and the larger protest movement it represents, is very much in doubt.