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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The fall of Hong Kong

8 July 2020

China has annexed Hong Kong, or so it would seem.

Despite originally promising Hong Kong that it could retain its pseudo-independence and a degree of autonomy, the Chinese government has increasingly renegged on that promise in recent times.

Most recently, China passed a law that effectively outlaws any dissent from the Chinese Comunist Party (CCP) and hands out harsh punishment to those who would dare to promote such distasteful concepts as democracy for the former colonial outpost.

Those Hong Kong residents who felt that assurances once given by China would protect their freedoms are now finding life very different and putting even the smallest foot out of line risks a lengthy prison term.

And the latest move by China is tantamount to book-burning. The Chinese government has issued libraries and other book repositories with a list of publications that must be withdrawn because they are considered a violation of the new laws.

This will not end well.

Meanwhile, the UK and a growing list of other countries, seem willing to provide residency or citizenship to any HK resident who wishes to flee the changes forced upon them by the CCP.

Naturally China is not best pleased by those offers and stands ready to stop those who might be appearing to avail themselves of such an option.

It is now unlikely that we'll see a repeat of the million-strong protests that filled HK's streets with people outraged at the (then) proposed new laws. To do so today would surely result in harsh penalties, probably involving relocation to the mainland for offenders.

So where to from here for Hong Kong?

The future of this tiny former outpost of the British Empire looks rather uncertain.

There is simply no way that the residents of HK could mount any effective resistance to the diktats of mainland China and no Western nation is going to actually become involved in much more than a war of words over the matter. The fate of HK residents really does seem a bit dire.

People used to the freedoms and benefits of HK "as it was" are unlikely to feel comfortable under communist rule and with their right to free speech effectively withdrawn.

Although it is an international trading hub, that position could be significantly eroded by CCP involvement in the day-to-day administration of the place, something that mainland China should be very careful of, as they tighten the thumbscrews.

I know a number of Westerners who have businesses based in HK and they've told me that they're feeling pretty nervous right now but have no immediate plans to relocate. I guess they're just hoping things will settle down. For the time being, the benefits of being HK-based still outweigh the disadvantages -- but how long will that remain the case I wonder?

If the UK effectively kicks Huawei out of the country, as seems to be their intent, I can not see China having much sympathy for the residents of HK, a chunk of China that was under the control of Britain for 99 years up until its lease on the colony expired in 1997.

Sometimes you just have to feel so grateful that you live in Godzone eh? For all its problems it really is the best place on the planet, isn't it?

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