Hong Kong is preparing to introduce new middle school textbooks that will deny the Chinese territory was ever a British colony. China’s Communist rulers say the semi-autonomous city and the nearby former Portuguese colony of Macao were merely occupied by foreign powers and that China never relinquished sovereignty over them.

It’s not a new position for China, but the move is a further example of Beijing’s determination to enforce its interpretation of history and events and inculcate patriotism as it tightens its grip over Hong Kong following massive protests demanding democracy in 2019.

“Hong Kong has been Chinese territory since ancient times,” says one new textbook seen by the AP. “While Hong Kong was occupied by the British following the Opium War, it remained Chinese territory.”

It is one of four sets of textbooks being offered to schools to replace those currently in use, all stating the same position, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported earlier this week.


Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until its handover to Chinese rule in 1997, with the exception of Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. Its colonial status was the result of a pair of 19th century treaties signed at the end of the first and second Opium Wars, along with the granting of a 99-year lease in 1898 to the New Territories, which greatly expanded the size of the colony.

China’s Communist Party, which seized power during a civil war in 1949, says it never recognized what it calls the “unequal treaties” that the former Qing Dynasty was compelled to sign following military defeats.

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In the late 20th century — with China unwilling to extend the lease on the New Territories, and the colony not viable without them — Britain entered into protracted and often contentious negotiations with Beijing over conditions for the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

Ultimately, China took control of Hong Kong in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that would keep the city’s economic, political and judicial systems distinct from those in mainland China for 50 years. That was laid out in a 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration registered with the United Nations, although China now refuses to recognize the agreement.


In 1972, just months after the China seat at the United Nations was transferred to Beijing from the Republic of China government that fled to Taiwan during the civil war, the government acted to remove Hong Kong and Macao, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1999, from a U.N. list of colonies, effectively stripping them of their right to self-determination.

At a time when European nations had granted independence to other colonies, China feared the same could happen to the British and Portuguese enclaves it wanted back. “The settlement of the questions of Hong Kong and Macao is entirely within China’s sovereign right and does not at all fall under the ordinary category of ‘Colonial Territories,'” China’s representative said at the time.

Mary Gallagher, …read more

Source:: News Headlines


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