When the 50-year guarantees of "one country, two systems" expire for Macau and Hong Kong, it should not surprise anyone that the former will be allowed to continue as it always has while the latter as we know it will cease to be.
Most legal experts agree that the constitutional guarantee of half a century of no change is not an expiry date; the central government could allow both places to continue their way of life indefinitely. But the peoples in both places have already demonstrated their political preferences.
Now that so many Hong Kong people have shown their readiness to work with American and British politicians against their own governments, the city has crossed a red line to which there is no return.
It was made known even before the 1997 handover that Hong Kong could keep its civil liberties so long as it would not be turned into an issue for foreign powers to exploit against the rest of China.
But at a fateful moment when the United States was ready to start cold war 2.0 against China, large swathes of the local population have declared they are siding with a rival state. Certainly, they are free to do so under one country, two systems and the Basic Law. But they are undermining their home city in the grandiose name of freedom and democracy, for an imaginary future they have no idea how to achieve.
Beijing was ridiculed when it recently praised Macau. Pundits said it was a hint for Hong Kong to be more like Macau, and that just showed how "out of touch" the Chinese leadership was. Of course, everyone knows Hong Kong will never be like Macau. That's something, ironically, both Hong Kong people and Beijing can agree on. Beijing's message about Macau was not a hint, but a warning to Hong Kong.
The city still has a key role to play as a financial centre for as long as it can work for Beijing. But the Chinese leadership has long ago hedged its bets by developing other leading cities to replace Hong Kong eventually.
Fifty years of no change was Deng Xiaoping's gift to Hong Kong people to adjust to the new political reality of the rising leviathan up north. Unfortunately, many have rejected Chinese rule. There is no trust now, only mutual ill will. That will not end well for the city.
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