Aftershock of the colonial earthquake
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

If you watch the violent demonstration in Hong Kong, you see only the outside of the events. You have to consider the history and background to make a sense of it. We must also connect it to the Philippines and all Southeast countries around the South China Sea.

Because the riots are not about the Hongkongers and China only, It is the aftermath of colonization of China by Western powers. At the end of a 99-year lease it was returned to China and the principle of one country two  systems was proposed and approved. The end of the one country, two systems was slated for 2024.

But this was preempted using young students as its stalking horse. They are destroying the well-being of Hongkong. It started from an extradition bill for one a murder suspect  and ballooned to serious political repercussions going beyond its borders.

We are all part of this phenomenon – how we were colonized by the West and through the years to disengage. But clever Americans appointed the oligarchy to take charge and it continues to this day in subtler ways except to Filipinos who know better.

Colonialisation of Hong Kong has its own pecularities.

Hong Kong as we know it today was born when China’s Qing dynasty government was defeated in the First Opium War in 1842, when it ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain. It was part of the onslaught of Western power to demonstrate its power to the East.

Hong Kong was not spared from this colonial onslaught. So was China. On June 9, 1898, the British under Queen Victoria brokered a 99-year lease agreement for the use of Hong Kong after China lost a series of wars fought over the British trade in tea and opium.

In 1984, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang negotiated the underlying plan for the lease to end, such that Hong Kong would remain a semi-autonomous region for a 50-year period after the lease ended.

The lease ended on July 1, 1997, and since then tensions between the democratically minded Hong Kong population and the PRC have continued, although Hong Kong remains functionally separate from the Chinese mainland.

It is said that Britain was forced to go to protect its illegal drug-smuggling operations. The First Opium War lasted from 1839 to 1842. China lost the war and had to cede Hong Kong to Britain in the Treaty of Nanking. As a result, Hong Kong became a crown colony of the British Empire.

Under the principle of One Country, Two systems Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997.

While the US has asked its allies in Europe not to buy Chinese goods, Germany, Great Britain and Italy have said they would still buy from China. “This is not really a trade war but a war for supremacy for the next generation of technology.

These countries are making independent decisions and we should do so as well.

“Our trade with China is booming. They are buying many of our fruits. We have more than doubled the volume in the last two years. But we are not producing enough so we must encourage more people to invest in agriculture. While other countries have increased their trade with China from five to 10 times and earning billions of dollars from their exports, we are exporting just one-third or less of that.. according to a report.

(It used to be that only the rich could acquire machines and refrigerators but even the middle class and some of the poor can afford these because they buy in Divisoria).

More Chinese tourists are coming to the Philippines, then “we must build more tourism infrastructure. A hotel takes at least three years to build, for instance. But if we keep on attacking China in the newspapers every day, then our efforts will all go to waste.”

...”it’s not politics that should be given priority, but economics. Even if we have political disagreements, we can take advantage of economic opportunities. We want market access, whether we are producing agricultural goods or selling services...”

“Our relationship with China is very important because the Chinese can provide financing for our infrastructure requirements. We’re talking not just about physical infrastructure but also technological advances, including artificial intelligence and robotics, where China has already made significant progress.

So watching the student riots and media criticisms miss the point in assessing our relationship or those who use it as leverage for South China controversy. A columnist wrote that the Americans are still the mightiest military power. So what? If they use this might to frighten us to cut good relations with China we are depriving ourselves of trade and infrastructure financing. It does not help Duterte’s brilliant policy for an independent foreign relations.

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