“Feel with them in the fight for the World’s Freedom.”
Anyone visiting St James Park, London may come across the Guards Cenotaph on which are written the words “Feel with them in the fight for the World’s Freedom.”
These words should be engraved in the hearts of all those who live under a democracy such as we in Australia and should come to mind when we see millions of Hong Kong Chinese fighting for the democratic freedom which was the birthright but which was lost when their country was handed over to communist China.
What was once the British colony of Hong Kong could have been likened to a small pigeon resting on the tail of a giant Dragon prone to be swatted at any time. In this regard the Hong Kong project was always doomed to fail. Comprising 2,755 km2 consisting of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, Lantau Island, and over 200 other islands all bordering mainland China itself having an area of about 9,600,000 km2,
But how did Hong Kong come about? In the early 19th century China's economy was said to be the largest in the world but British exports of opium from India caused havoc amongst the Chinese leading to a decline in their fortunes. The Chinese emperor took action against the British opium traders resulting in war breaking out between Britain and China with the superior British forces defeating the Chinese who reluctantly entered into a treaty (called the treaty of Nanjing) in 1842 which ceded the island of Hong Kong to the British.
Kowloon was added to HK by a further treaty in 1860 called the Convention of Peking thus ending what was called the Second Opium War.
The burgeoning colony of Hong Kong was expanded with what is called the New Territories being leased from China to the United Kingdom in 1898 for 99 years under the terms of what was called the Second Convention of Peking.
Therefore, Britain owned both Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsular but leased the New Territories which equalled 86% of the combined land mass of Hong Kong.
In 1997, the lease over the New Territories ended but Britain also ceded Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to the People’s Republic of China on the basis that Hong Kong would maintain a measure of independence from mainland China for a period of 50 years. It was called the "one country, two systems" policy.
Hong Kong is important to China as it is one of the most significant financial centres and commercial ports in the world. This would explain the patience so far shown by mainland China over the widespread protests which have been going on now for over a month. However, it will obviously not tolerate protests, particularly violent ones, for much longer and, even though it would create an international economic crisis, being a dictatorship, it could well decide enough is enough and move Chinese troops into the Territory.
The situation is extremely difficult. On the one hand you have a people who have been nurtured in the bosom of British democracy and who have been bred under the rule of law and under the Crown. On the other hand, you have an owner-state which is authoritarian and completely alien to any sort of democratic rule.
It is the obvious intention of China to strangle the democratic lifestyle Hong Kong people have been born to and gradually remove their freedoms one by one until they are absorbed into the communist state. The Hong Kong people clearly see that their time as a semi-free people is fast ending - and they don’t like it.
The Australian government should be more than sympathetic to the predicament of the Hong Kong people because they were a sister state under the rule of law and under the Crown once enjoying the same sort of freedoms and democracy as we now do as an inheritance from British rule. As such we should feel deeply for their plight.
We in Australia are indeed extremely fortunate that we didn’t have to fight for our democracy. We didn’t have to agitate for the rule of law for that became our right the moment the British settled in this country. What we have as our inheritance is the same thing that millions in Hong Kong are endangering their lives to protest for. They know that once an extradition treaty is in place with China, anyone in Hong Kong speaking out against communism could well disappear.
Our system in Australia is based on the Crown. It is not so much about the royal family but about our constitutional system which protects the rights of the individual. Similarly, in Hong Kong it was once under the rule of law and under the British Crown but today, with a few fragile exemptions, it is now under the authoritarian heel of the Chinese dictatorship.
Our hearts should go out to what are, after all, our sister people and, should mainland Chinese troops enter Hong Kong to put down the protests and incarcerate the demonstrators - or worse, Australia should openly welcome and allow refugees from Hong Kong to settle in this country even if it means reducing the number of Communist-bred migrants from mainland China who enter this country in their thousands.
If the Australian government does nothing due to fear of losing trade or for whatever other reason, it should hang its head in shame.
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