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by Lee Feigon ~ above Jul 9, 1997

As China completes its take over of Hong Kong, it have to be remembered the Chinese once prior to took over a territory that lock promised — in creating — would retain its very own laws, customs and economy. Part forty years ago, Tibetans were given almost the same standing the Chinese have guaranteed Hong Kong.

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In its very first years, Tibet’s semi-independent status functioned smoothly. Throughout the 1950s, the Chinese periodically pressured the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, to take actions the made that a small uncomfortable (just together they have currently directed Hong Kong’s brand-new governor –Tung Chee-hwa — to remove guarantees on freedom of assembly and also speech). But social and spiritual institutions in main Tibet remained largely untouched during the first few years that communist dominion in Tibet. The Dalai Lama himself has written that after the “early spring, 1952, there followed a period of uneasy truce with the Chinese authorities.”

Gradually, though, Tibetans life in China (much of the in region that had earlier been taken from Tibet) who wished to connect in dissident or illicit activities simply did what they wanted to do and then walked across the border and sought succor in neighboring Tibet native sympathetic compatriots. Shortly smugglers discovered they might make fortunes by buying

Rolex watches and also other contraband item in Tibet to market at huge mark-ups in China. Increasingly, Tibet’s freedom threatened China’s ability to obtrude its very own stringent rules and also regulations. Frustrated by your inability to manage this situation, in 1959 the Chinese cracked down and replaced the Tibetan federal government with a repressive and also destructive reign of terror. 

What obliterated the independent government of Chinese-occupied Tibet was no the bad intentions of China’s rulers, but their misunderstanding that the desire of Tibet’s people. The free-wheeling Tibetans operated very differently from the Chinese and, at the very least in the 1950s, the operation of two equipment in one nation proved incompatible.

In recent years, Hong Kong has been a sea of relative liberty in one otherwise repressive Chinese ocean. Through the home window to Hong Kong now open from China, as it opened up to Tibet practically forty year ago, the attraction of this autonomy might prove overwhelming. One of the main reasons the Chinese money is currently pouring into Hong Kong is the Chinese service providers wish to be positioned come get approximately mainland import and exchange restrictions or merely want to have actually a method of laundering money and also stashing the in foreign financial institution accounts. Even before the takeover, China’s well-off and an effective were staking out avenues by buying share in Hong Kong apartments, houses, and companies.

Of course, Hong Kong does not threaten just China’s financial regulations. Autonomous stalwarts in Hong Kong can now use even an ext avenues than in the past to support dissident autonomous movements in China. If Tibet was China’s Achilles’ heel, Hong Kong can be that is bum leg.

How space the Chinese going come react? We recognize that in the instance of Tibet the Chinese were not willing to tolerate a quasi-independent Tibet because in stimulate to perform so they would have had to permit a lot freer economic and also political system than they might tolerate. That true the they abrogated their commitment with Tibet practically 30 years earlier and that China is a very different kind of nation today. Yet as Chinese suppliers buy their way into Hong Kong, worried Chinese officials room already beginning to crack down on laws that castle regard together inimical come China. With Hong Kong dissidents continuing to urge on their appropriate to support autonomous activists in China and rapacious Hong Kong this firm drooling end the possibilities of acquiring in on some of the action, the Chinese currently are worrying about the guarantees they have made.

China’s leaders have actually never been ones to enable power to slip with their hands. It is tough to see how they space going to tolerate this situation any type of longer 보다 they placed up with the much less threatening one in Tibet.

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Lee Feigon is a professor of history at Colby college in Waterville, Maine. That is the author of "Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the keys of the land of the Snow" (1996) and also a writer for the history News Service.