The Iron Lady vs. China

2 May

Following the recent death of the much beloved Margaret Thatcher, we will look at Mrs Thatcher’s government and China. Under her government, Hong Kong, a colony for 100 years was returned to China under a Treaty. Pivotal to the handover of Hong Kong to China, she did not negotiate any deal to bring about any democratic values for Hong Kong with the Communist China.

Many people in Hong Kong felt that Mrs Thatcher had ‘betrayed’ them by returning them to China and not fighting to keep Hong Kong, unlike the Falkland islands. Since 1998, it has been more than 15 years, what is happening now?

Ironically, Britain, a country built on fundamental rights and democracy, and with Mrs Thatcher, arguably a champion of democracy and freedom,  after almost 16 years since the handover, there is still no full democracy in Hong Kong. However it is noted that colonialism in itself remains in a rather paradoxical state since the home country like Britain might be fully democratic, it might not necessarily be so for the colonies. Mrs Thatcher originally had hoped that the British could continue to administer the city after it returned to Chinese sovereignty. However, the truth was that under the terms of the declaration, the Chinese agreed that the city shall  have a high degree of autonomy, including its own political and economical system for a 50 years period. Global Times said in regards to handing Hong Kong back to China, Mrs Thatcher made ‘her biggest compromise as Prime Minister.’

Certainly the Chinese media will not portray her as the ‘Iron Lady.’ The state-run media said she had met her match, namely Deng Xiao Ping. Newspapers across Hong Kong splashed numerous full-page eulogies commemorating Mrs Thatcher across their front page, adorning them with images of flowers – signifying mourning.

In reflecting on Mrs Thatcher’s passing, several Hong Kong democratic activists were critical of her legacy in Hong Kong. A former reporter and current legislation suggested that Mrs Thatcher ‘didn’t look after the well-being of Hong Kong people.’

Almost 16 years have passed and with the dismiss of Mrs Thatcher, with or without Britain’s rule, Hong Kong is still doing pretty well for now and in fact, the Financial Secretary John Tsang expects the economy to grow by 1.5% to 3.5% in 2013.–only-to-meet-her-match-in-deng-xiaoping-two-years-later-she-signed-the-agreement-handing-the-territory-to-china-1543375.html


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