28 April 2010


Dear TCG,

This concerns me..

What happens to Hong Kong after the year 2047? The Sino-British joint declaration says it will attain a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. What happens after that? I know it is not known what the PRC plans, but what do experts speculate? Is HK doomed to fall into the hands of totalitarianism?

Kevin B

Dear Kevin

Nobody knows, there are still 37 years left and I'll be an old man by then. But 37 years in world politics is a very very long time.

The 50 year S.A.R system has been set up in such a manner that allows the rest of the PRC to catch up in terms of living standards, and thus come 2047 when true reunification occurs ( and Mainland China is still a foreign country), in that some predict that the breakneck speed that the Chinese economy is growing and the increase in living standards means that HK the living standards will be comparable in both the PRC and Hong Kong. Considering living standards in HK are pretty crap anyway unless you are uber rich I am not rich.

Curiously Deng Xiao Ping before his death in 1997 wanted the S.A.R arrangement to last 100 years. Therefore there is always the possibility that they could extend this by another 50 years if they find that the two countries are incompatible in 2047. Of course this may be regarded as failure and thus may not happen face issues. However they won't be stupid enough to destroy their golden goose though.

As China can learn lots from Hong Kong's capitalistic nature, still, in that back in 2007 the PRC government lost billions in buying oil futures thinking the price would go to the sky, it didn't the oil price came back down, and they paid well over the odds for lots of oil.

There has been growing Chinatisation of Hong Kong on TVB for example they never used to show the PRC national anthem first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Nor did they used to show so much propaganda, i.e. the Chinese spaceman or the Olympics, or so much television on TVB which praises the PRC government either (there have been on TVB rather a lot of Chinese cultural programmes about non Han Chinese and also massive public works projects), which is blatant and obvious. Hong Kong Chinese have been exposed to vast amounts of advertising and therefore can filter out such propaganda, if you don't watch TV for a week and watch it again you see just how obvious the propaganda is even in the UK.

There are also some more insidious things occurring in HK since 1997

Economically by 2047 there maybe not much difference, therefore the unique way of life is no longer as unique as the tricky issue is that of the legal system which is actually developed along British law with some PRC elements added into it, you can't simply change this overnight.

The ideal situation is that by 2047 China advances and starts to change their legal system to match that of Hong Kong, as going back is kind of retrograde.

The likelier situation is that they will attempt to make frog soup where they slowly turn the heat up over time so that it is almost unobservable, cases of this have existed where ICAC have started to use China law to root out corruption. Much like the UK has slowly turned into a totalitarian state!

However this all depends on a big IF, that is IF China still exists in it's current form in 2047, the USSR only lasted 72 years before finally falling apart. Peoples' Republic of China has lasted 61 years. Though they may make claims of 10,000 years (a common method in Chinese for saying forever) there are already some big cracks appearing in China, a REALLY big one occured in 1989 as we all know. Which shocked the PRC leadership as the people were willing to pay in blood to get their objectives, you cannot oppress against that forever.

Currently growth and economic freedom are acting as an activism sponge but there are constraints to this, water, electricity resources etc. More importantly there are millions of unemployed Chinese people who have nothing.

In ALL Asian economies there is a distinct lack of welfare, Seoul, Japan (unknown about Taiwan) there are shanty towns that the tourist brochures don't tell you about, on my wanderings in Seoul 2009 I found 2 massive ones I write about them in my first book. You can see some pictures here . Millions of unemployed pissed off angry young men are dangerous, the Korean touches on this here. I was actually sucked into a huge riot in Sincheon in my time in Seoul last year. But mostly the Korean states that they bitch about life on Internet forums etc which is an activism sponge.

In China there are no such activism sponges and with land seizures, and employees being cheated (companies pay employees once every 6 months but liquidate at 5.5 months) that are chipping away steadily at the things that kept social harmony and massive numbers of young people with absolutely nothing to lose, which you can't simply execute or keep in prison. That there is a high probability of civil war and fragmentation in China before 2047.

Some of the huge problems are outlined here

This is my opinion anyway.

Even North Korea is starting to show cracks in its regime (read askakorean.blogspot.com) in that there are some huge problems outlined

I would note that HK people seem to be caring a lot less over time as the numbers who protest about it are diminishing. Also an opinion I hear quite a lot is that what is the point of democracy anyway? (I actually was acosted in Beijing by somebody in a bar who gave me a long winded speech about this he was bigger than me and thus I could not escape). In that our shining examples of democracy like in the UK there is rampant corruption, nepotism and bad law made to ensure that MPs once they stand down are given lucrative positions in big companies.

Tony Blair for example sold out the UK. I mean do you really think he got all those massively well paid jobs by typing up his CV and sending it to the banks he works for? Or rather it was pay back for the betrayal of the UK people?