MARTIN JACQUES HK’s future lies with China, not the West: (Peoples Daily Online 19-8-19)

As protests in Hong Kong continue, scholars and experts worldwide have expressed their concern over the city’s economic recession and rising violence. During an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online, Martin Jacques, a senior fellow at Cambridge University, called for restored stability and order in Hong Kong, adding that its future lies only with China.

Jacques explained that there is a difference between the original peaceful demonstrations and attacks on police and innocent people, further noting that stability and order should be restored to ensure Hong Kong’s future development.

Jacques’ comments came after the protests in Hong Kong evolved into extreme violence, with some radicals ransacking the Legislative Council building, assaulting the police, forcing a shutdown of the Hong Kong airport with unauthorized rallies and beating up innocent people.

“I think it’s very important for them to see their future in terms of the relationship with China and ‘one country, two systems,’ because HK is now part of China, and it offers an enormous opportunity. Certainly, a section of the young people in Hong Kong seem to think that China is not the way forward… and I think they are quite mistaken in this.” said Jacques.

According to Jacques, Hong Kong should consider itself a part of China’s development, while initiatives such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area could help Hong Kong tackle its economic shortages, securing its future development.

“Hong Kong could try to be a part of what’s happening in Southern China. It can get involved, even become leaders in some area, but a positive relationship with the Chinese mainland should be maintained. Otherwise, Hong Kong will simply become increasingly less important, and in some way relatively marginalized, and that will be a very bad situation,” said Jacques.

The British scholar has also criticized support from western countries, especially the UK, for the demonstration. He noted that such supportive opinions are irresponsible, while the violence of the demonstration has often been ignored.

“If these demonstrations were taking place in the United Kingdom, the reaction would be completely different. This is a fundamental hypocrisy in the western attitude,” adding that the British government has been irresponsible because it was originally party to the agreement of “one country, two systems.”

“One of the great problems in Hong Kong when I lived there was the huge ignorance about China. They didn’t look north; they look west. In this sense, young opinions in Hong Kong are quite unusual in East-Asia, as East Asia countries are turning towards China in terms of their future, except Hong Kong,” said Jacques.

“The future of Hong Kong is not with Britain; Britain is in serious decline. Why are the young [in Hong Kong] thinking that the future for them is some kind of restoration with the West? There needs to be a big shift in attitudes within Hong Kong, and they should open their eyes to what China is,” added Jacques.

This article was published by Peoples Daily Online on the 19th of August 2019. 

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3 Responses to MARTIN JACQUES HK’s future lies with China, not the West: (Peoples Daily Online 19-8-19)

  1. Malcolm Crout says:

    I’m glad Martin thinks Hong Kong’s future rests with China because Hong Kong residents, apart from the elites, don’t think so. I wonder if he thinks Taiwan should begin kowtowing to China as well! I’m struggling to understand his position given that decades are left on the Hong Kong agreement for self determination and yet China has been infringing on that agreement for years. Throwing Britain into the discussion is a spurious attempt to misguide, considering that the majority of world trade with Hong Kong is other than Britain. Honk Kong is a centre for World trade for Pete’s sake! If the privileges enjoyed by citizens of Britain had been infringed as they were (are) in Hong Kong, I’m pretty sure there would be violent demonstrations in London by the people. To say otherwise in naïve (think Ireland).
    Looking at the Peoples Daily Online organisation, it seems suspiciously like a venue to promote good news stories about China. There is a certain wiff in the air on that one. Just saying. Of course I could be completely wrong.

    • Kien Choong says:

      I would argue that Martin Jacques is right. This is not to say that the people of Hong Kong are wrong to seek greater autonomy. But those who do must make it clear that their ultimate goal is not independence, simply greater autonomy as part of China.

      The problem now is that China is understandably wary that more autonomy is really simply a step towards independence (which no Chinese government can allow). Unless the “democrats” within Hong Kong can credibly commit to remaining part of China, it will be difficult for China to allow greater autonomy.

  2. Anthony Pun says:

    Thank you, Prof Jacques, for a simple and objective analysis of the HK crisis. The Professor should be complemented for his astute observation about HK youth looking West whilst in East &SE Asia, youth (including overseas Chinese particularly in former British colonies are looking East. One of the reasons, which is not often spoken in public, is that HK had an previous attitude in “looking down” on the mainlanders as being poor & non-achievers, and now, the table is turned.

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