HK20: Hong Kong residents seek British passports amid fears for city's future

Tammy Harvey
July 2, 2017

Hong Kong government statistics show that by the end of a year ago, mainland banks' assets in Hong Kong accounted for approximately 33 percent of the local banking system, compared with 13 percent in 1997.

Much to Beijing's chagrin, people still display British colonial emblems out of nostalgia and longing for a time they feel had faster economic growth and better opportunities.

And he warned that anyone threatening China or Hong Kong's political stability would be crossing a red line and their actions would be considered "absolutely impermissible"- words certain to concern those already wary of tightening restrictions on political life in the city.

But in a stark and surprising announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, no longer had any practical significance.

Recurrent in the images are the themes of nationalism versus colonialism, justice and freedom under Beijing's control, and the color red, a symbol of good fortune and Beijing support. "It is the freedoms Hong Kong enjoys that make it a civilised city".

President Xi Jinping Saturday inspected major infrastructure projects in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), urging more efforts to keep and improve its competitiveness.

Beijing-backed civil servant Lam was chosen to be Hong Kong's next leader in March by a 1,200-person "election committee" stacked with pro-China and pro-establishment loyalists.

Beyond democracy, many protesters said they were also protesting about Hong Kong's many social problems, from staggering income inequality to corruption in government.

It has also coincided with the inauguration of new chief executive Carrie Lam, who is seen by detractors as a puppet to Beijing. The pro-democracy protesters were released on Friday.

AP PHOTOS: UK symbols fade, China's rise in new Hong Kong

Thousands of protesters held up signs demanding that China free Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel peace laureate who was recently diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and transferred from prison to hospital.

Hong Kong University professor of law Michael Davis said "The Chinese position is not sustainable in worldwide law".

"More and more Chinese companies would like to list on the Hong Kong exchange, so they are all in China, and they're talking Mandarin", Hon says.

On Thursday, Xi reaffirmed the "one country, two systems" that allows Beijing to govern Hong Kong from a distance, while local lawmakers handle day-to-day affairs. A group of activists, including young pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong, were detained on Wednesday ahead of Xi's arrival after they staged a sit-in in front of an iconic sculpture of a gold Bauhinia flower - a monument to the handover.

Across the internal immigration border in mainland China, one activist said he had been issued with a travel ban after trying to board a flight to Hong Kong to take part in the protests.

Hong Kong continues to interact positively with the mainland, said Luo. We have fought to preserve our core values, including the rule of law, transparency, a free flow of information and free markets - the values that have always been a beacon for China and beyond.

He was briefed on how the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, through investment in infrastructure, is enhancing its connections within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area as well as with the rest of Mainland, and on the strategy of strengthening Hong Kong as an worldwide and regional logistics hub.

China's apparent willingness to renege on its obligations to Hong Kong was discussed by Chris Patten, Hong Kong's final British governor, when he spoke to TIME last month.


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