Can Hong Kong break free of China?

It certainly won't be easy. But there are real signs of change.

Pro-independence Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Hong Kong is a historical accident. China had to give up what was then a mostly empty island to Britain after losing the First Opium War in 1842. The tiny island grew to become one of the world's most thriving metropolises as the U.K. established a benevolently deregulated economy that enabled exiles from Communist China to build one of the world's most bustling business centers. Hong Kong became an economic powerhouse; today it has a population of more than 7 million and the world's 10th highest GDP per capita (on a purchasing power parity basis). But it has also been a cultural beacon, hosting thriving religious organizations that couldn't prosper in China, and producing an iconic and influential movie industry.

When the U.K. handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997, pursuant to the original lease from the 19th century, China promised to respect Hong Kong's historical liberties under the "One Country, Two Systems" concept. The idea was that Hong Kong would become a part of China, but have its own constitution and its own political system, including civil liberties.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us