Following the end of the Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century between the Qing dynasty, Britain, and France, Britain had been ceded control of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon peninsula, and the New Territories under a lease of 99 years. At the end of that lease period in 1997, governance would be returned to China.
The first of July 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. It also marks the halfway point of a 50-year agreement between China and Hong Kong that established the “one country, two systems,” rule—a system designed to allow Hong Kong to “enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” while still remaining a Special Administrative Region of China.
What have these 25 years signified for Hong-Kongers and the wider world?
In recent years, civil unrest in Hong Kong has intensified as groups of protestors, police, and politicians have clashed over issues of democracy and state influence, leading many to question just how much the “one country, two systems” rule still applies.
On today’s episode of The Oxford Comment, we welcome two leading experts in Chinese history and foreign policy, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, the editor of The Oxford History of Modern China and Dr Tim Nicholas Rühlig, author of China’s Foreign Policy Contradictions: Lessons from China’s R2P, Hong Kong, and WTO Policy, to explore the history, handover, and future of Hong Kong.
Check out Episode 73 of The Oxford Comment and subscribe to The Oxford Comment podcast through your favourite podcast app to listen to the latest insights from our expert authors.
To learn more about the themes raised in this podcast, we’re pleased to share a selection of free-to-read chapters and articles:
Tim Rühlig explores the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong in the chapter “Chinese Approaches to Rule” from China’s Foreign Policy Contradictions: Lessons from China’s R2P, Hong Kong, and WTO Policy.
Jeff Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham look at the future of China in this chapter from China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know®.
In this chapter, “Governing by Silos”, from The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Ian Scott explores the impact of government organizational silos in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia.
Featured image: Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, in 2021. Manson Yim, CC0 via Unsplash.
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