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In Hong Kong, twenty-five years after the handover, the brutal end of illusions
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In Hong Kong, twenty-five years after the handover, the brutal end of illusions

After one hundred and fifty-six years of British colonization (1841-1997), followed by twenty-five others under Chinese sovereignty, Hong Kong has lost, in less than three years, most of the characteristics of its particular identity: that of a confetti Chinese zealously practicing Anglo-Saxon liberalism and capitalism, nurtured and cradled in fundamental freedoms associated with universal human rights – which are theoretically guaranteed by the Basic Law (Basic Law), the local mini-constitution.

Despite an unsuccessful process of democratization, Hong Kong was until recently the only part of Chinese territory enjoying a solid rule of law, based on independent justice rendered by local and foreign judges, a lively and diverse political opposition, great freedom of worship – including for members of Falun Gong (a syncretist spiritual movement) banned and persecuted in China – a free press, unregulated access to the Internet, internationally renowned universities and extraordinarily open borders for both people and goods…

So many assets that helped to raise Hong Kong, in 2019, for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, to the top of the list of “freest economies”. » of the planet. So many attributes that are supposed to last, at least until 2047. During the process of handover of Hong Kong to China by the United Kingdom, started in 1984 and finalized in 1997, Deng Xiaoping had in fact undertaken to apply the principle “one country, two systems” underpinned by the promise that “nothing would change for fifty years” in the ” system “ from Hong Kong. At the time, the Chinese leader had even added that he did not see why this status of autonomy could not continue thereafter…


Yet as the small Special Administrative Region of China entered, the 1er July 2022, in the second half of this crucial period of fifty years, it is clear that Hong Kong has been transformed: the feeling of freedom or even political recklessness has given way to a form of latent terror, where each act is weighed and every word, in public, at work, on social networks and even in private – because the denunciation has sometimes infiltrated even within families. To the point that observers wonder if Hong Kong is not on the way to becoming a Chinese city among others. The most optimistic bet on its legendary resilience, tested many times by the crises of the past: Hong Kong is not at its first existential challenge.

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