In the 1980s, Xiaoping Deng suggested the “One World, Two Systems” theory to align the imperialist economies of Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong with socialist mainland China. Britain decided to cede sovereignty to China in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.
The Basic Law, across the two schemes, makes Hong Kong be autonomous while China provides defense assistance. At its inception, the Two Framework has produced both advantages and challenges (Das, Rup Narayan).
The one-country, two-system has greatly benefited both China and Hong Kong, and it has performed better than anticipated. Hong Kong is distinct, prosperous and one of the freest part of China. China has benefited from the Hong Kong’s dynamic capitalism while avoiding interfering with its affairs (Das, Rup Narayan).
The Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army though in Hong Kong remains in barracks except during the ceremonial parades. Unlike the Chinese citizens, Hong Kong citizens enjoy lots of democratic rights, and its courts have earned the international respect. The Hong Kong’s media are proactive, and there is tolerance of protests in Hong Kong than the Chinese mainland.
The one country two systems principle has contributed a lot to Hong Kong’s economic growth and social stability. Such a system presents unique advantages for Hong Kong’s future growth and development (Das, Rup Narayan). The one country two systems have boosted the economy of Hong Kong as the mainland China provides the market for Hong Kong’s product. As such, both Hong Kong and Mainland China have mutual economic benefits (So, Alvin Y.).
The regulations on free movement of goods and people between Hong Kong and the mainland have increased the flow of resources thus enhancing the economic growth of both Hong Kong and mainland China, maximizing the commercial potential of the Greater Bay Area (Yang, Chun).
The future of One Country, Two Systems
The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration gave Hong Kong autonomy for the next fifty years, a period that shall end in 2047. The one country two systems have performed well since 1997 as Hong Kong has achieved a lot within the past twenty years since handover (Das, Rup Narayan).
However, the one country two systems framework faces a threat of scrapping after the fifty year period is over. The city’s Mini-Constitution as the Basic Law guides refers only to its capitalist system and cannot prevent Beijing from exercising sovereignty over Hong Kong, a factor that affects the success of the one country two systems framework (Das, Rup Narayan).
Hong Kong’s political unrests and unpopularity and ineffectiveness of C. Y. Leung’s administration have caused Beijing to intervene and devise control mechanisms such as interpreting the Basic Law in its favor (Das, Rup Narayan). In future, Beijing will get more involved in politics of Hong Kong to ensure political stability regardless of democracy in Hong Kong. Such moves have undermined the sovereignty of Hong Kong and threaten the continued existence of the One Country Two Systems framework.
Economically, Hong Kong is getting integrated closely with China’s mainland indirectly. Mainland China is spearheading the constructions of the Greater Bay to link Hong Kong, Pearl River Delta, and Macao, for economic development. Such actions are indicating China’s long-term plan of absorbing and entrenching Hong Kong into Chinese economic order once the 50 years are over, a threat to the existence of the One Country Two Systems of Hong Kong (Yang, Chun).
Culturally and socially, mainland China is seeking Hong Kong’s community allegiance. Beijing is focusing on promoting its culture, social practices, education and understanding of the Basic Law is China’s priority. China’s plan of constructing the Museum Palace in the West Kowloon Cultural District is a symbolic dominance of Chinese culture within the metropolitan area, indicating China’s plan to integrate Hong Kong into its authoritarian control completely (So, Alvin Y.).
Hong Kong reunited with China in 1997 a period which China promised to ensure Hong Kong retains its capitalist system without changing the one country two systems for fifty years. However, at the end of fifty years which shall be 3047, it is uncertain how China shall handle the Hong Kong’s one country two systems (Das, Rup Narayan).
Hong Kong’s autonomy due to the One Country Two Systems framework is becoming unstable as it depends on mutual trust and China’s mainland restraint on its self-imposed restrictions to rule Hong Kong. Maintain such a delicate balance requires the highest political tolerance, patience, and tolerance from both Hong Kong and mainland China, attributes which Beijing seems to lose interest in (Das, Rup Narayan).
Hong Kong’s One Country Two System Framework depends on Beijing’s wish to grant them sovereignty which seems to reduce, indicating a complete collapse of the One Country Two Systems framework and Hong Kong will eventually be part of China’s controlled towns.
Impact on young and future generations
People are already skeptical of what will happen when the “One Country Two Systems” framework that allowed Hong Kong to have a high level of autonomy reaches the five years agreement period. Loss of personal freedom among the Hong Kong citizens is of great concern as the young are also uncertain of their future that has led to fostering of pro-independence discussions and worries for the next generation (So, Alvin Y.).
Beijing may reclaim its territory and impose its mainland rule to govern Hong Kong thereby doing away with the Hong Kong’ one country two system approach. In such a case, the impact would be adverse for the future generations who are currently the young generations differently.
Integration of Hong Kong into the mainland China’s socialist system would lead to loss of Hong Kong’s culture (So, Alvin Y.). The future generation may never know their roots or the existence f Hong Kong. Additionally, if China imposed its authoritarian rule in Hong Kong, the next generation would lose its democratic right of voting or protesting.
Housing, the priority of many young people will be the first to experience the impact when the system fails. The young people only own houses through residential mortgages which and banks are reluctant to offer mortgages extending past thirty years as the future is uncertain. The future generations may therefore not hold houses and those who may not have cleared their mortgages may lose their homes when Hong Kong becomes integrated into the socialist China and loses its independent authority (So, Alvin Y.).
The success of the One Country Two System framework requires the commitment of both mainland China and Hong Kong. As such, the United Nations must pressurize the Chinese government to keep their promise and commitment to ensuring noninterference with Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Failure to pressurize Chinese and Hong Kong’s politics would lead to the collapse of the system hence forcing Hong Kong to be part of the authoritarian leadership of mainland China which would lead to loss of democracy, infringement of media’s freedom and political intolerance.
In conclusion, the loss of Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems would, in turn, affect the future generations who would not have the democratic rights currently present in Hong Kong. The United Nations must, therefore, put pressure on both Hong Kong and mainland China to maintain the One Country, Two Systems even after the fifty years that will end in 2047.
Das, Rup Narayan. “Hong Kong: An Experiment in ‘One Country, Two Systems.'” China Report, vol 29, no. 2, 1993, pp. 153-164.
So, Alvin Y. “One Country, Two Systems” and Hong Kong-China National Integration: The Crisis-Transformation Perspective.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol 41, no. 1, 2011, pp. 99-116. Informa UK Limited,
Yang, Chun. “The Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong: An Evolving Cross-Boundary Region under “One Country, Two Systems.”” Habitat International, vol 30, no. 1, 2006, pp. 61-86. Elsevier BV.