Europe, China and the Future of Hong Kong

  • Ting Wai


Although, geographically and historically speaking, Hong Kong has always been part of China, and the PRC has never recognized the status of Hong Kong as a colony, from the perspective of international relations, however, in the 155 years of British rule, Hong Kong has always been considered as part of the West — it always serves first of all Western interests. Westerners prefer to have a ‘base’ in Asia where freedom is safeguarded by the rule of law. This base can serve as a bridgehead from which the Western countries can develop their political and economic exchanges with China and other Asian nations. The tacit consent to British rule by the PRC was due to the fact that Hong Kong as an international city enjoys multiple relations with the West and such relations serve Chinese interests as well, no matter whether China was in a state of isolation as from the 1950s to the 1970s, or in an era of openness and reform starting from the 1980s. Since the 1950s, the tacit acceptance of British rule over Hong Kong by China depends on one condition: Hong Kong must not become a base for subversion against China. This explains why from the 1950s until the 1980s, Taiwan’s activities in Hong Kong were under severe control.


World Trade Organization Chinese Leader British Rule Political Liberalization International City 
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  1. 2.
    See ‘The US Presence in Hong Kong’, The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, July 1996; W. M. Morrison and J. P. Hardt, ‘Major issues in US-China Commercial Relations’, in China’s Economic Future: Challenges to U.S. Policy — Study Papers submitted to the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States (Washington DC: US Congress, 1996), p. 477.Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    See Sir Leon Brittan, ‘Europe and Hong Kong: Prospects for Cooperation into the Next Century’, Office of the European Commission in Hong Kong, 31 May 1996, p. 4.Google Scholar
  3. 22.
    Differences in consideration of various European countries are analysed in Miguel Santos Neves, ‘Towards a Common China Policy for the EU: a Portuguese Perspective’, in Richard Grant ed., The European Union and China: A European Strategy for the Twenty-First Century (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995), p. 82.Google Scholar
  4. 29.
    See Etienne Reuter, ‘Hong Kong and the European Union’, East-West Dialogue, 1:1, June 1996, pp. 9–10.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Ting Wai

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