“Maintaining peace, democracy and freedom requires more than ever to pay attention to Hong Kong”

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Harbor on the 23rd anniversary of the attachment of this territory to China on July 1.

Hongkong is dead! I’ve been saying this sentence for a while, especially since last year. It is now confirmed: the application of the national security law makes Hong Kong a city similar to other Chinese cities from a political point of view. “One country, two systems” becomes an outdated expression.

It is true that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange can still display a relatively serious image. Thanks, on the one hand, to the funds mobilized by Beijing to support it and, on the other hand, to the capital of Chinese companies withdrawing from the American market following the increasingly tight control of the American administration. The Hong Kong service sector will be able to maintain relative prosperity if the pandemic remains under control and if mainland spending and investment remain there. The latter are, in effect, trying to escape from an ever-worsening economic and political situation in mainland China.

However, Hong Kong’s situation will not be able to stabilize as Beijing and some Hong Kong and foreign businesspeople hope, despite an extremely tough law on repression. This law remains voluntarily vague on the definition of certain crimes, leaving to Beijing a very large latitude to condemn at will. The Oriental pearl goes out; a historic page is decidedly turned.

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To understand this, it must be remembered that Hong Kong is first of all a “mixed” product from two cultures, eastern and western, a mixture of tradition and modernity, on the outskirts of China, but representing the West in the East. Its charm and dynamism come from this mixture which is linked to a historical period which is now over, at the origin of its strengths but also of its weaknesses.

British institutions, which guaranteed individual freedoms, as well as the brain, labor and capital flight from mainland China after the Communists took power, enabled it to take off significantly. These factors laid the foundations for its international influence.

New balance of power

To this is added a favorable international situation. If yesterday’s success in Hong Kong was partly the result of the Cold War, its tragic fate today is also linked to a new balance of power, to a new Cold War that is beginning.

The current situation is, in fact, the first battle of this new cold war which can be described as warm war (“Lukewarm war”), due to the level and nature of the conflict between China and the United States. The temperature can vary, including up to the termination of trade links or even an armed conflict. This “third world war” shakes up international organizations. The world order is about to be profoundly changed.

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