In 1997, a Sino-British Joint Declaration created a “One Country, Two Systems” pact between China and Hong Kong. The treaty effectively solidified the protection of Hong Kong’s society and markets from Beijing until 2047. But twenty years later, many Hong Kongers believe China has encroached even further upon their community and legal system.
One of them is Angela Gui. She is the daughter Gui Munhai, Swedish citizen who is believed to have been abducted by Chinese authorities for his ties to a Hong Kong book store that carried titles critical to Beijing’s Ruling Communist Party – these books, of course, are banned on the mainland. He disappeared from one of his homes in Thailand in 2015. Other colleagues involved with Causeway Bookstore including Guy’s friend Lee Bo have also disappeared.
Angela, meanwhile, says she has not heard from her father and she cites Swedish counsel as saying the man has not even been given access to a lawyer as he remains imprisoned. “So paranoid is Beijing about its public image, that it chooses to carry out cross-border kidnappings over some books,” Angela writes in an editorial published by The Guardian.
She says that as Chinese President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on Chinese politics, Beijing is pushing harder and harder to erase any perception of the “One Country, Two Systems” doctrine. For Angela and others like her, the notion now means nothing more than the paper it is written on. But she also accuses the opposite party of “looking away” and letting the Chinese hand spread deeper into Hong Kong.
“Theresa May often emphasizes the importance of British values in her speeches,” she writes. “But Britain’s limpness over Hong Kong seems to demonstrate only how easily these values are compromised away. I worry about the global implications of China being allowed to just walk away from such an important treaty. And I worry that in the years to come, we will have many more Lee Bos and Gui Minhais, kidnapped and detained because their work facilitated free speech.”
She adds that Lee Bo is legally British.