The deterioration of the once great Hong Kong is truly a saddening event

Hong Kong, once the symbol of western wealth and power in the communist east now stands as a decaying reminder of the dangers of political gridlock. This pseudo-state has stood against the oppression of the authoritarian Chinese government for over 20 years but now it’s demise slowly looms as the Chinese dig their claws deeper and deeper into the city. To say that hong kong is in decline is a debatable opinion, Hong Kong, as it stands, is still one of the biggest centers of commerce in the world and the biggest in the east. However, to fully understand the predicament that the former British colony now finds itself it’s history is extremely important to know.

Hong Kong, by all intents and purposes, was always meant for greatness. The small region stood the test of time after dynasty and dynasty fell in China. It found its roots in European trade and slowly became an important trade hub in China. Soon, however, the Qing controlled Chinese government began to restrict trade into China. It’s most notable restriction was its ban of opium due to it spreading, and killing, like wildfire. The British Empire, who at the time was the source of the opium declared war on the Chinese beginning the first opium war. In the end, the Chinese stood defeated and the imperial government formally handed over Hong Kong to the British Empire.

The British Empire’s control of Hong Kong saw the city slowly modernize into the bustling trade capital of today. Despite complications during the second world war and other eastern conflicts the city slowly became into a capitalist beacon in the east showing the power of democracy. However, soon the city of wealth and power faced the growing threat of the looming Chinese government in the distance. The city was originally leased for 99 years by the British empire in 1898 as part of a deal between both countries. The date loomed on the solemn city and many wondered how it’d alter the global market and the balance of power between the US and China.

With so many citizens of Hong Kong awaiting the decision on their fate as a free city waiting on any news possible the UK and China agreed on a “One country two systems” solution to the hong kong question. This solution would have the city of Hong Kong become a part of China by definition but remain a mostly independent city for the next 50 years. The city was allowed to keep its government and economic system and even has its own flag and the Olympic team today.

The reasoning for allowing Hong Kong to remain largely independent may seem weird considering the strong nationalistic outlook in the Chinese government, however at the time the city of Hong Kong would control over 18% of Chinese wealth and be so influential it allowed it to persist as a pseudo-state. Now, however, that once unbridled power is almost completely fading away. The rise of the Chinese metropolis has caused Hong Kong to only cover around 2% of its overall wealth, a still big percentage but a sharp decrease from before. This decreasing dependence on Hong Kong has led China to slowly begin efforts to undermine the authority of Hong Kong in preparation for its final takeover in 2047.

The Chinese government has placed pro-unification officials in the city’s government and has recently finished construction on a great bridge to the city undermining its original borders. The political gridlock this has cost between the pro and anti hong kong factions has caused grave problems for the citizens of Hong Kong resulting in a flawed education system, crippling housing crisis, and an ever-growing fear of the eventual Chinese takeover. The situation of Hong Kong is a very pessimistic one, unlike other problems facing the world, there’s almost nothing we can do about this. In 50 years the city of Hong Kong will join the Chinese fold and what will happen after is almost unpredictable. However, the pride of the people there who in 2014 resisted Chinese political attacks on their nation and their national strength and belief in democracy and capitalism is nothing less of an inspiration across the world.

The same spirit that burned in the hearts of protestors in Tiananmen Square in Beijing now lives on in the hearts of the thousands in Hong Kong who long for political freedom. The case for Hong Kong may seem like an unfolding tragedy, but through learning of its failures and the dangers of political gridlock, society as a whole can begin to set a new path and fight authoritarianism.