China is erasing its border with Hong Kong

This is me in the middle of crossing one
of the weirdest borders I’ve ever crossed. It’s this one. It divides China
from China. And it took me two hours to get through. This border is weird not
only because it separates the same country into two, but also because it has
an expiration date: July 1st 2047. Until then China has promised to stay out, to let Hong Kong be highly autonomous. Hence, the border. But the government of China doesn’t really want to wait until 2047.
They’re ready to start erasing this border now, making Hong Kong a proper
part of China and one of the ways they’re doing that is this huge bridge. Yeah, I know this isn’t really the best shot so here’s a solution. The drone
doesn’t even have a microphone, but even still I couldn’t help but say, “take a
look at this bridge” as it was flying away. But seriously, take a look at this
bridge. China has unveiled the world’s largest sea crossing bridge. It’s 55 kilometers, that’s 34 miles, it’s the longest sea crossing in the world. The bridge connects Hong Kong with Macau and mainland China. I always call this
some sort of an umbilical cord between Hong Kong and China. That we want
something physical for you to register in your head that Hong Kong is part of
China. So this bridge and a bunch of other
recent developments in Hong Kong are bringing up a lot of questions of what
is Hong Kong? Who does it really belong to? And what happens when you erase a
border? it’s June 4th which is the anniversary
of the Tiananmen Square massacre. There are hundreds of thousands of people here
in Tiananmen Square. In the history of communist China there has never been
anything like this. On June 4th, 1989, pro-democracy protesters were marching
on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square calling for the end of a single-party rule in
China. They were then brutally massacred, hundreds were killed. “The troops have been firing indiscriminately.” Marking the end of
any sort of widespread democracy movement in China. They’ve just turned
off all the lights in this park. Every year the residents of Hong Kong hold a
vigil to commemorate the people killed in that massacre. This is something
that’s not allowed to mainland China, but in recent years this vigil has become
more personal to these people and that’s because they are feeling a new level of
influence from China. But wait. Isn’t hong Kong already a part of China? Technically yes, Hong Kong belongs to China but you sure wouldn’t think so by looking at
this border that I’m at right now. Okay, I made it into China. I mean technically I was already in China, but now I’m like, really, in China. So how did it get like this? Britain and China fought a couple of wars over trade in the 1800s and Britain eventually took
over Hong Kong as a colony. At the time this was a mainly empty rocky, group of
islands in southern China. Under British rule, Hong Kong’s population and economy
exploded and even though Hong Kong’s population was mainly made up of
immigrants from China, it became a very different society than mainland China
which was undergoing a communist revolution. One of the treaties that
China and Britain signed said that Hong Kong would be a British colony for 99
years, which meant that the agreement would officially expire in 1997. As that expiration date drew nearer, China and Great Britain started to talk about what
this is gonna look like. Britain acknowledges that when the lease runs
out in 1997 on most of the territory, the whole of Hong Kong will revert to China. Let’s finish talking about this stuff up there. If you go up to the 69th floor in
this building in the Chinese border city of Shenzhen, you’ll find a life-size wax
sculpture of this moment in the mid ’80s when the leaders from China and Great
Britain sat around and negotiated the terms of handing over Hong Kong to China. And they came to this agreement that Britain would give over Hong Kong
peacefully to China, under the condition that Hong Kong would be able to retain
its way of life, legal system, their economic system, freedom of speech
freedom of press, freedom of association, these are fundamental freedoms. Freedom of religious worship, these are fundamental freedoms. And they must continue. China agreed. They said they would let them be independent and govern themselves for 50
years while they kind of adjusted to Chinese rule. 50 years beyond 1997. And so
this was the agreement that they came to. It was called the “One country, two
systems” model and it was kind of unprecedented. Okay, let’s head back to Hong Kong see ya
Margaret, see ya Deng. So even after Hong Kong was handed back to China in
1997, this border that I’m now biking to stuck around. It remained exactly how it
was and this border became highly symbolic of the fact that yes, this is
China, but it was kind of its own country at the same time. Governed with its own
values and its own system that is different than China, that is in
opposition to China in some ways. Perhaps the most overt symbol of Chinese
sovereignty is this army barracks behind me. It’s the Chinese army. And so even
though these soldiers can’t leave the barracks or do any sort of enforcement
activities within Hong Kong, they’re still here in the central area of the
city and they serve as a very powerful symbol of the fact that this is Chinese
territory, this is Chinese sovereignty. But these soldiers won’t be confined for
much longer. The borders around their barracks, as
well as this border of north, are quickly dissolving. China has committed to
respect Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047 and for the first decade after the
handover, they respected that promise. What you have to understand is that Hong
Kong was easily China’s most economically productive city. In the early ’90s right before the handover, this one city’s economy was more than a
quarter of the size of China’s entire economy and so it makes sense why China
would agree to these terms, to keep Hong Kong happy and economically free. But then things changed. Look at the explosive development of these Chinese
cities in recent years. These are China’s mega cities. These cities eventually
eclipsed Hong Kong as the economic powerhouse of China. Shenzhen, this town
that shares the border with Hong Kong, is a perfect example of this. The place went
from a small fishing village of around 30,000 people to a super productive
economic powerhouse of over 10 million people in just a few decades. Hong Kong went from making up 27% of
Chinese GDP in the early ’90s down to just 3% today. And suddenly Hong Kong, once the economic powerhouse of China and the
gateway to the West, became much less economically relevant. And soon the
Chinese government didn’t have the same incentives to respect Hong Kong’s
autonomy. So now you begin to see a flood of Chinese influence in this city. Let’s go see if we can catch the 5 o’clock news. In recent years the evening news
broadcast has started with the national anthem of China, playing under a promo
video that shows Hong Kongers enthusiastically participating in
traditional Chinese customs. The message is very clear: that Hong Kong is a part
of China whether they like it or not. On top of that, the language of the evening
news is Mandarin, the official language of China. But in Hong Kong they don’t
speak Mandarin, they speak Cantonese. Don’t they say if you want to kill a city you kill
its language first. And we speak Cantonese here. They’re actually some
professors in Hong Kong and China telling us that “Oh, Cantonese is
actually not our mother tongue, not Hong Kong’s mother tongue.” Cantonese is actually just a dialect of Chinese. The Chinese government
tried to get teachers to use this text book to teach Hong Kong children the
basics about China, but looking into the book you see that it’s more of an
advertisement for China’s style of government, than an introduction to it. The Chinese system is the ideal type. So multi-party rivalry will makes the
people suffer, because about… all these four points are about how bad the United
States is. Multi-party systems create government shutdowns. They’re basically
pointing to that as the reason why a multi-party system like that of the
United States is deeply flawed and really bad for the people. In 2014 China
took it one step too far. The Chinese government was trying to control
who could run for Hong Kong’s election, in an effort to secure a pro-China
candidate. This really touched a nerve for the locals because this was their
democratic process, something that China promised they would stay out of. So people immediately took to the streets in protest starting here in this park. I took the taxi from my home to here on
the night. What was it like down here that night? We were in a standoffish situation. And suddenly they used tear gas. The first drop of tear gas just dropped right in front of my eyes. We were holding umbrellas, trying to prevent pepper sprays. I remember that, like, itchy painful feeling. Oh my gosh. Yeah. I saw Hong Kong people
joining, uniting together against the central governments and fighting for
their rights. This protest and the subsequent movement that came up around
it is known as the “Umbrella Movement.” You would say, “Oh, what’s the point of
fighting when you’re bound to lose? They’re so big, you’re so small.” For the record, we need to fight. We’re not taking things lying down. The protest didn’t change the
Chinese government’s mind and it didn’t immediately change anything in Hong Kong, but this spectacle of young people rising up to defend their rights from
the central government of China did spark a political awakening among the
many in the city who had never before paid attention. I think post-Umbrella Movement was the first time that the middle class came out and voted in droves. And voted for the opposition force. But for the first time like, you know, people sort of like us all started caring. Look at
this graph that shows how Hong Kongers identify themselves, either as Chinese or
Hong Konger. In the early days after the hand-off, as China respected the
One party two systems arrangement, you can see how Hong Kongers slowly became more
and more comfortable identifying themselves as Chinese. But since then,
with the growing influence from the Chinese government, you can see this line
reverse course. Residents of Hong Kong who identify themselves as Chinese has
almost hit a new all-time low. The Umbrella Movement
is a manifestation of this growing Hong Kong identity and the resistance to
Chinese government influence. China responded to the Umbrella Movement with
a new wave of efforts to exert influence in this city. I’m standing outside the
bookstore where in 2015 five staff members disappeared
throughout the year. This bookstore was selling books that were banned in China,
that basically cover the sex lives and the corruption scandals of high-ranking
Chinese officials and so one by one throughout 2015, people who worked in this bookstore disappeared. No one really knows where they went. One of
them showed up a bit later on Chinese television apologizing for what he did. And confessing to his crimes. The book store has since closed down. Back here in Victoria Park these
candleholders stand as a symbol of the fight for democracy against China’s
single party rule. That was once a fight that happened far away in Beijing, but as
this border has slowly been erased these people now find themselves engaged in
that same fight. Resisting a much more powerful China in the struggle for their
own democracy and identity.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. We've released a video explaining the recent demonstrations rocking Hong Kong, as citizens there protest against the government's proposed bill that would allow extradition to China. To get the latest on the current situation, you can watch the video here:

  2. The video is full of prejudice, and the tank has been buried since the beginning of the video. The video lacks a complete historical narrative. In fact, the reason for Hong Kong's return to “one country, two systems” is not the conclusion of a contract with the British, but as a demonstration of the future recovery of Taiwan. The return of Hong Kong has nothing to do with any British demands. The repeated video of thousands of people holding candles is not for demonstrators, but for peace.

  3. only one big problem here, in this video, it sounds like hong kong is a country and china is another country, but the fact is hong kong is a part of china, one city of china. in this world, there is no border between a city and the country it belong. the border created by colonist should not existing at beginning. for china it is a sad history.

  4. Britain or USA have no say on this matter….imagine the Chinese telling the Uk that Scotland,Wales and ireland have to be independent

  5. Britain fought a few wars ha ha we terrorised half the world. We forced the Chinese our opium aka heroin we were bigger than Escobar

  6. TITLE REPAIR NO CHARGE: "China removes barriers from China's land" Death of imperialism by one thousand cuts continues as imperialists in England destroy their own prosperity over the ridiculous Disneyland fantasy of a Royal Family

  7. Wow, thank you so much. I had no idea and that is a very interesting situation. Very happy that there are people like you bringing information to the masses.

  8. If China winds up taking over, the leaders of this movement will be disappeared. Why would you NOT fight against something like that??

  9. If China cant keep its words, the UK has every right to take back Hong Kong to maintain the people's freedom. Right?

  10. ???
    Bring them here. The left wants millions of immigrants, so let the hongkongers seek asylum in America. We know for a fact they are being oppressed and their God given rights are being taken from them. If China succeeds and this bill passes, I say we start taking asylum applications from Hong Kong.

  11. All those big buildings. What's in them? What's in the big buildings in your city? You don't have to do a very detailed analysis to find that very little of value is produced in those buildings. With governments taking three fourths of what you earn and much of that going to the banks that instituted them, you see it's all just a game where they collect tribute on you and me. Iterative secession is the answer.

  12. Let's see if I got this straight. Hong Kongese corrupt officials do not want Chinese corrupt officials taking over.

  13. I'm not Chinese but I don't understand why Hong Kongers act like Britain was just doing good for them it was a British colony and we all know what happens to colonies especially in old times so maybe they should stop making China always the bad guy

  14. Honestly, I just like the fact that Hongkong people know the separation between China and it. It shows a lot of closeness plus they I can see why Hongkong don't wanna be involved with china because of the big difference in freedom and religious actions.

  15. "Hong Kongers" should just leave Hong Kong, and build a more democratic Hong Kong somewhere in British. They segregate themselves, making it like a show of 1.4 Billion vs 7 Million, it is totally like a joke. Plus, this video makes no sense at all, where are the proves that support all the statements made? Employees disappearing from bookstore? TV speaking Mandarin instead of Cantonese, those people interviewed speaking English… Those marching development from inland China, are those development in anyway harms Hong Kong's development?

  16. They should make a video about the millions trying to find the Russian collusion in the election and how they found nothing

  17. Guanzhou also speak cantonish and chinese language at same time. Why can not HK? We still do not know, why this is happening in HK . Just feel that , some people do not being chinese citizen any longer . Ok , if you do not want being chinese , please leave HK , leave China . You can join any of other country instead .

  18. No borders should be between China and Hong Kong because HK is within China. Please use Mainland China and Hk China to describe them.

  19. Why you have not show to audiences how the fighters did to those polices?They was bit,hurt.Even be Published their family’s personal information illegally.

  20. So what happens to those Cantonese in mainland China? Are they not entitled to the language they use for centuries? It's Cantonese, not HKese.

  21. Give them freedom to live.The goverment should know that . It is part of their responsibilities.But if you seek for power this is what happens.

  22. In the case of the border between China and Hong Kong,when you try to erase it,you are simply trying to mix a seaa and a river.

  23. Hong Kong Is surely part of China,and it's none of your business.The British invaded the weak China then and rob Hong Kong as their own colony.

  24. Unfortunately the only way to get the Chinese to respect you is war and China will keep pushing until war breaks out until then China ?? will keep pushing how long will the USA ignore and back down until when only time will tell !

  25. Fought over trade wars! At least tell the people what the trade was in! For those that do not know the trade was “OPIUM”

  26. Chinese government is absolutely disgusting human rights violators and care nothing for anyone but themselves and power. The Chinese people are great but their government are monsters

  27. 3‘40’‘ how convenient for you say Britain fights with China on Trade. What an easy and light expression. Intentionally jumped over the fact that the Britain committed such despicable crimes against Chinese people. You know exactly what happened. Britain sold opium to Chinese, to poison the whole country. The Chinese government prohibited this kind of drug “ Trade”, so the British government declared war. If you want to sound objective at least treat each party fair in your narrative. The British committed crimes in so many places including America that’s why you have a independence war.

  28. 贸易战?不是鸦片战争吗?新闻将会证实。新闻你看看香港新闻台,那个不是粤语。这里欺骗别人。

  29. 你太年轻了,你先了解下李光耀先生的伟大之处。人民是那个活在伊拉克你就满意了?太不客观看问题本质。差评!

  30. Imagine all countries in the world starts helping hong Kong??
    I think then China will back off but it's never gonna happen

  31. Tienimon Square (2) ,,, it's coming !!! Get Out While You Can ,,,, main land ??don't like da party goin on,,,,they want ???,,,,,, Enslavement !!!!!

  32. Hong Kong is 100% Part of China. The people are Chinese so tell England to get lost . Thats how Europe divided Africa to itself making Africa in a state of confusion and self hate now .. Africa feeds France and without Africa,there wont be no France . Europe should leave the world alone .

  33. And its true, multiparty systems are really flawed.
    The so called democratic system is not working.
    Whatever China is doing within its own border is right.
    Nobody has the right to question its internal politics.
    Hong Kong is China whether the USA or Great Britain likes it or not.
    As for the people of Hong Kong, a nation as a whole is much more important than a city.
    You are Chinese, living on Chinese land under Chinese law…
    You are not one bit any different from a person that lives in Beijing..maybe you speak English because the colonialist forced it on your parents and grand parents..great grand parents.

  34. No wall = No border. I pray that China be a democracy like United States when they remove the wall otherwise under Chicom, we will see boat people coming to the free nations. Remember the boat people of Vietnam.

  35. I'm Tibetan but I don't support Hong Kong independence. It's a relic of colonialism and the land was Chinese to begin with. Tibet is not.

  36. Hong Kong is China! China that tasted different ways of living, ''Freedom'' and does not want to go back, which is fair enough. But still China. It would be dope if Beijing accepted what HK wants but I honestly don't see that happening.

  37. Been there twice, with that I can say Hong Kong and Shenzhen are 2 very different places, by shear culture and Operation. But then again Locals are pretty nice in both regions. I would want Hong Kong to remain Autonomous and open unlike China.

  38. Is there any other problem in ASIA where BRITISH is not involve? I mean they decided INDIA and formed conflicts by drawing a line to SEPARATE PAKISTAN to INDIA then this one.

  39. This is just the pain of Hong Kong's integration into China. If the Chinese government does nothing, 2047 will make Hong Kong people more uncomfortable.

  40. I have to say that if the protesters are peaceful and they didn’t do anything that hurt the policemen, the police will not through the tear gas. I think that is a common sense

  41. Not only Hong Kong but China trying to erase south sea border and borders of weaker countries surrounding it. Hopefully United nation and United States will help and defend those countries which been bullied.

  42. Hong Kong was ALWAYS ruled by an outside government. Even when the British Crown Colony, final authority over it rested overseas with white Anglo-Saxon men of the Privy Council in *LONDON, ENGLAND*. There was never any self-rule or democracy in Hong Kong. The current demonstrators are anarchists led by hooligans. There is only one China and they are all Chinese on both sides of the "border" and yes kiddies that includes Macau, Tibet and Taiwan.

  43. You're missing the point by a mile. Hong Kong was stolen from China the same way as China would now take Cornwall by military force, let's say.

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