It was 20 years ago today… And FCC members and guests marked the Handover anniversary in fitting style by partying the night away at the club. Here’s our rogues’ gallery.
Hong Kong 20/20: Reflections On A Borrowed Place – watch the anthology launch
As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepared to touch down in Hong Kong on his first visit since taking office in 2012, poets, writers and artists gathered to launch an anthology to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Handover. Watch the book’s contributors read passages and poems from the anthology, followed by a Q&A session.
FCC archives: Not just a soundbite – Chris Patten’s plea as the Handover approached
FCC member and Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, asks the world’s press not to forget the territory after the Handover in this piece reproduced from the 1997 special edition of The Correspondent
The journalists are coming. At last count more than 8,400 of them to cover one of the greatest end-of-millennium peacetime stories.
As Anson Chan said in a speech in Manila the other day, if Hong Kong can survive that, the rest should be easy.
But will it? That’s the 64,000 dollar question all those interviewers, commentators, analysts and writers will be posing as they report this postscript of Empire.
I’ve been asked the question a million times already – well, it feels like a million times – and will no doubt be asked again and again before Britannia glides through the great bowl of light that will illuminate our magnificent harbour shortly after June 30 has turned into July 1.
FCC members know my answer pretty well. It is that Hong Kong will go on being one of the greatest cities in the world – provided that the promises of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong’s future are honoured.
I have no doubt that so long as the combination of political freedom and economic liberty, underpinned by the rule of law, is preserved and strengthened, Hong Kong can fulfil its potential as the New York of Asia.
That’s been at the heart of the debate we have been having these last five years. The people of Hong Kong understand that if if some of our critics don’t. Some of them think the 28th and last British governor of Hong Kong should have tip-toed round this issue and gone for a quiet life.
Will Hong Kong remain free? What do you really think of Hong Kong’s future prospects?
That was never an option. The choice was clear cut. Either I stood up for the people of Hong Kong and the freedoms and rights they were promised by Britain and China in the Joint Declaration, at the risk of having the occasional row with China; or I could have done what the Chinese wanted me to do – and spent the last few years in a row with the democrats who, by any measure, represent majority opinion in this community.
What sort of questions would journalists be asking me and Britain now if I had chosen the latter course? I know what those questions would have been and, frankly, I could not have answered them with a clear conscience.
But questions remain, and they will be fired in from every corner of the globe as the transition reaches its midnight climax. Can it work? Will it work? Will Hong Kong remain free? What do you really think of Hong Kong’s future prospects?
I’ll answer as I always do – as a rational and curious optimist with a belief in the people of Hong Kong. They have made this place the spectacular success story it is today and they can go on to a better tomorrow.
They can do that so long as they continue to demonstrate the self-confidence to stand up for their rights, as they did so recently in the face of threats to roll back some of their civil liberties. These are people who know what it’s like to live in a free society.
It will not be for the people of Hong Kong alone to speak up for those rights and freedoms. Britain will continue to do so. So will many others.
The media should keep the spotlight on Hong Kong, too. Not just at the historic moment when the flags change, but in the weeks and months and years – the decades – that follow.
Hong Kong must not be allowed to become a sound bite of history. Don’t forget – none of us should forget – that China has promised in the Joint Declaration to allow Hong Kong to continue pretty much as you find it today for the 50 years up to the year 2047.
Now that’s a story worth watching.
Update: Lord Patten, on June 28, gave an interview to The Guardian where he spoke of a sequence of “outrageous breaches” of the Sino-British handover agreement.
He said: “I don’t think that the outlook outside the European Union is one in which we are more likely to behave honourably towards Hong Kong than we have inside.”
“The worry is that there will never be a point at which we say to the Chinese: ‘No,’” Patten added.
We want reunification dialogue with North Korea, but only after nuclear program is stopped – South Korea
South Korea hasn’t taken its unification hopes off the table, but North Korea will need to ditch its nuclear program before such dialogue can begin, said South Korea’s Ambassador for public diplomacy.
Enna Park was talking at a press conference held at the FCC on June 27. She said that South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, was keen to open up communication with the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) but that talks were unlikely unless sanctions, coupled with incentives to drop nuclear development, were to come to fruition.
“When the conditions are right, when North Korea feels more comfortable talking with South Korea, we will have dialogue with North Korea. We will not attempt to unify North Korea by any means. It doesn’t mean we’re not keeping up our aspirations for reunification,” she said.
When asked whether South Korea’s new government was seeking engagement with North Korea, and whether the time was right for engagement in light of the death American student Otto Warmbier at the hands of the regime, Park said: “Yes, engagement is on the menu. No, it is not the right time to engage North Korea. The government wants to open the room to engagement if conditions are right in the future. We do not have a very concrete, clear description about conditions. It is subject to further consultation.”
She added: “The death of Otto Warmbier is very horrible, it reminds us of the horrible violation of human rights by North Korea.”
On the topic of South Korea’s plans to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, and China’s reaction by urging boycotts of South Korean companies operating in China, Park said the government’s priority was protecting its people: “Probably it’s better not to try to please everybody. It is a critical asset to us to protect our own security. The priority is our national interest, our security. The top priority is not how to please the others.”
…we cannot rule out some intentional launch of missiles towards China under circumstances in the future.
She added that she was aware that China was concerned with how the system might be used – “they have their own concerns on the possible use of system to surveil what’s going on inside Chinese territory” – but said that her government was ready to discuss those concerns with China.
Having worked for many years at the Korean embassy in Beijing, Park also shed light on the threat felt by China from its ally North Korea. “The direction of missiles launched by North Korea is usually headed to South Korea western sea or eastern sea,” she said. “I think China had some worries about a possible mistake… or we cannot rule out some intentional launch of missiles towards China under circumstances in the future.”
Park also talked of the bridges South Korea is are attempting to build with Japan, with which it also has historical conflict, namely the use of Korean females as “comfort women” for Imperial Japanese soldiers during World War II. She said South Korea’s previous government had wanted to resolve historic matters before pressing on with any regional partnership.
“The previous government took the approach that we have to solve history problems first then liaise with Japan, but this approach actually didn’t bring any good result,” Park said. “So the new government has a two track approach: on one hand we’ll continue to work on history issues. On the other hand we will work with Japan to achieve common goals – solving the nuclear problems of North Korea and establishing peace in the region… creating synergy for economy, so many things that we can work together.”
When World War II ended in 1945, Japan lost control of Korea to Allied forces, leaving Korea to be divided in two, with the Soviet Union administering the northern half and the United States administering the southern half. Since then, the threat of nuclear annihilation as the north began developing nuclear capabilities has hung over the south.
Statement on Government ban of online media from attending press conference held by Carrie Lam
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong supports the following statement:
Hong Kong Handover Anniversary: The FCC welcomes visiting correspondents!
The FCC HK is looking forward to hosting visiting correspondents and journalists covering the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover.
If you would like to use the FCC as a base during your trip to Hong Kong (or wish to enjoy a meal or drink at our famous bar), you are very welcome to do so. But please first apply for a temporary guest membership at the Front Desk during office hours (9am to 9pm on weekdays, 9am to 12:30pm on weekends). Or better yet, let us know ahead of time that you will be coming by emailing [email protected]
To obtain a temporary guest membership, you will be be asked to fill in a form and submit proof of your status as a journalist (such as a business card or official press card) as well as proof of overseas residence (such as a passport or return airplane ticket.) Once approved, the visiting journalist may use the FCC’s downstairs workroom and other facilities.
Globalisation is coming to an end – but communism unlikely to rule, says top economist
Globalisation is on its deathbed as people see inequality in wealth and some of the world’s richest countries seek to withdraw from cross-border partnerships, according to HSBC economist and author, Stephen King.
Speaking at a club lunch on June 20, King said that in the West we’re seeing a rejection of the values of globalisation amid a growing belief that institutions such as NATO and the European Union are less effective and, in some cases, no longer fit for purpose. He gave U.S. President Donald Trump pulling out of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and China creating the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) as examples of how some countries are becoming more isolationist as they focus on their domestic interests over global relationships.
King said we reached peak enthusiasm for globalisation in 1989, when Berlin Wall came down.
The author of Grave New World: The End of Globalisation, the Return of History, conceded that in some cases it appears that there is a swing back to Liberalism, citing the recent French election victory of Emmanuel Macron and the drubbing of the Conservative Party in the U.K. election. But King said generally there appeared to be a new global narrative: them and us. For example, Greece and Germany: who is to blame for the financial collapse of the Mediterranean country? Greece, for years of financial mismanagement, or Germany for giving the Greeks over-generous loans?
“Once you get into blame and counter blame, you can see how globalisation ends up in trouble,” he said.
He discussed technology as a tool that, until now, has boosted globalisation. But he warned that although technology had enabled living standards to rise rapidly, globalisation instead depends on ideas and institutions.
When asked to give his thoughts on the likelihood of a global revival of communism, he was a little more upbeat. King said it would be difficult for any country to deliver fully-fledged communism when other systems where it has existed are in retreat.