Tian Feilong: End of Apple Daily Marks New Start of “HK-Style Freedom of Speech”

Tian Feilong: End of Apple Daily Marks New Start of “HK-Style Freedom of Speech”
Original: https://news.mingpao.com/pns/%e8%a7%80%e9%bb%9e/article/20210628/s00012/1624817933988/%e7%94%b0%e9%a3%9b%e9%be%8d-%e8%98%8b%e6%9e%9c%e7%9a%84%e7%b5%82%e9%bb%9e-%e6%98%af%e6%b8%af%e5%bc%8f%e8%a8%80%e8%ab%96%e8%87%aa%e7%94%b1%e7%9a%84%e6%96%b0%e8%b5%b7%e9%bb%9e 
on 28 June 2021, Ming Pao Daily 

Apple Daily did not make it to the Party's centennial celebration on 1 July and officially collapsed on 25 June (the last issue was published on 24 June). The final moment of Apple Daily triggered public sentiment and even "sympathy" inside and outside of Hong Kong. Foreign powers "mourned" Apple "with their eyes closed", disregarding any legal facts and due process. They believe the National Security Law (NSL) caused all of this and that it is the NSL that killed Apple Daily, suppressed the so-called Hong Kong-style freedom of speech and press freedom, and caused a "chilling effect" in Hong Kong's democratic environment. They questioned the regulatory quality of the NSL, saying that the charge was "vague" and authoritarian.

These criticisms, which rely on Western "universal values" and “standards of the rule of law”, are quite inflammatory and confusing at first glance, and if placed in the context of the 2019 protests, they may again incite an extremely large-scale "Apple” storm. However, with the NSL in place, this will definitely not come.

Anyone with a basic conscience, historical memory, and common sense in law would understand that the NSL is a law that protects "one country, two systems" and all the rights and freedoms it promises, including, naturally, the protection of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The NSL truly reclaims the "state" in the context of "one country, two systems" and gives the power of the state an institutional foothold in the day-to-day governance of Hong Kong.

The spokesperson of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council issued a statement on 25 June regarding the distorted comments of foreign media and foreign forces involved in the Apple Daily incident. It points out that the police enforcement and judicial procedures under the NSL are fully in line with the standards of the rule of law in Hong Kong, and that the crackdown is on criminal acts suspected of endangering national security by the organizations involved, not on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Further, no freedom of speech and freedom of the press are separated from the law. The spokesperson called for attention to specific facts and legal principles, and cited basic facts such as the stronger protection of Hong Kong residents' rights and freedoms since the implementation of the NSL, and the increased presence of media organizations in Hong Kong, to counter the distortions made by foreign media and foreign powers.

Similar official statements and explanations of facts and jurisprudence have been made many times since the implementation of the NSL and China has done its best to explain and explain each time. But the explanations fall on deaf ears.

When Jimmy Lai and the "Apple faction" were steadily identified by Western forces as "their own", every specific law enforcement action and judicial trial seemed to evolve into a dry and uninteresting struggle over "universal values". Every time we review our own propaganda and discourse in accordance with the rule of law and democratic framework, we find we are still not understood by the West, cannot change the West’s rhetoric and our lower hand in the entire matter.

In fact, the West does not care about the facts and the sincerity of our explanations and only distorts and pressurises us by virtue of their so-called hegemonic advantage. They want to manipulate the truth and justice and politicise and stigmatise China. They know they have trampled on basic facts and legal principles but all they care about is that there is still a large number of countries and people cheering for them as they approach their demise.

The public opinion struggle and legal battle triggered by the Apple Daily incident cut to the heart of the new Cold War between China and the United States, exposing the "hegemonic" undertones of Western human rights and democratic discourse, as well as the confusion and shortcomings of a declining Western power.

In the long term, the Western discourse is bound to weaken with their decline. The continued rise of China, the ability to prevent and control the new epidemic, the contradictory logic and misplaced practice of the Trump/Biden doctrine, and third-party forces getting neutral or slowly siding with China are all factors that are dismantling the West and further exacerbating its illogical and disorderly behaviour.

But the world is still in the midst of helpless chaos. From facts to values, from remarks to a say on the global stage, from ethnicity to universality, from the right to development to equality and dignity, from the "orientalisation trap" to the centre of the world stage, endurance, the combination of knowledge and action, collective strive and determination to breakthrough form an inevitable path for us. We still have the duty and responsibility to continue to explain clearly to the nation and the world what the NSL is, why the "Apple faction" has fallen, and what the future freedom of Hong Kong will be.

We need to return to the basic facts and the process of institutional change to discuss the issues.

First, the 30-year history of the "Apple faction" is from a small local tabloid to the "first agent" of foreign powers. The history of the newspaper is a perfect microcosm of Hong Kong's own political history and we can trace its long-term threat of "endangering national security".

Secondly, since Hong Kong's reunification, the loophole for Article 23 [Security] legislation has been unplugged and the "Apple faction" has been radically opposed to the Basic Law and mobilised a "colour revolution" using the gaps and grey areas under the Basic Law.

Third, the key to the success of the "Apple faction" is not the legitimate enjoyment of press freedom and journalistic professionalism, but the excessive politicised manipulation and the excessive exaltation and assistance from external forces, which is, in essence, a subversive "political organization" in the name of a news organization.

Fourth, during Occupy Central in 2014 and the anti-extradition protests in 2019, the "Apple faction" colluded internally and externally, incited lawlessness and violence, produced a large number of "fake news", and requested foreign powers to sanction Hong Kong and China, and was the vanguard of anti-China sentiments and against Hong Kong. They seriously undermined the rule of law in Hong Kong, everyone's personal safety, freedom and rights, tarnished the law-abiding ethic of Hong Kong's democratic culture and movement and posed serious damage.

Fifth, with the enactment of the NSL in 2020, the grey areas of the past abuses of press freedom have been clarified in law. The "Apple faction" has ignored the new law and continued to engage in anti-China and anti-Hong Kong activities, and eventually violated the law with criminal prosecution repercussions.

The fall of the "Apple faction" is the result of a long history of endangering national security, undermining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and directly violating the norms of national security law. Everyone who understands and accepts modern rule of law will agree with this conclusion. However, the Americans, the Europeans do not agree with their double standards and in reality, humiliates their own rule of law and values of democracy.

Originally. the modern Western hegemony had coercion and virtues, resulting from competition amongst civilisations. But in today’s West, virtue is decreasing and strong-arm coercion is increasing. A typical example is the US, degenerating from liberal imperialism to "sanctions" imperialism.

In the case of Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and China's economic, trade and high-tech development, the remaining "virtues" [moral high ground] of the West are almost non-existent. On the surface, the banners of Western discourse and sanctions still have some compelling and destructive power. However, in reality, it is a sign of internal crisis and decline of Western civilisation and a manifestation of its inability to live up to its own principles and virtues, and to stick up to propriety and virtues.

Apple Daily has incited "local laam chaau” (mutual-destruction-style “localism”), forced shops to support the "Revolution of the Times”, encouraged and condoned the riot violence of the youth, and colluded with external forces to promote a "Hong Kong version of colour revolution". This is using the social rift arising from the anti-ELAB storm and the negative sentiment against China to boost confrontation between the government and the people, causing a post-election usurping of power.

This has pushed Hong Kong’s democratic movement into an abyss of radicalism and misled the people. The protest violence and "freedom of the press" is the beautiful backdrop claimed by American politicians, but they completely ignored the "chilling effect" caused by the movement and the damage to the freedom of speech of those with different opinions.

At that time, Hong Kong's "Article 23" was lacking and local law and order was not sufficiently enforced. The courts were unable to provide strong decisions to stop violence and control chaos, and individual judges even had the wrong judicial orientation to praise the rioters. However, Western politicians praise and promote this riot violence without realising or deliberately missing that such freedom is not moral freedom at all, but rather a "terrorist" act that the US itself suffers from. The NSL punishes only such "riot violence” and is just and powerful.

The NSL has done its job, the "Apple faction" has got what it deserves, and justice and the rule of law are being rapidly re-established in Hong Kong. Only after getting rid of riot violence can all the rights and freedoms in Hong Kong be protected and effectively exercised by law. Instead of mourning the fall of Apple Daily, Western politicians should review the evil in their hearts and the internal collapse of Western civilisation, and seek ways of cooperation and renewal between Eastern and Western civilisations. Otherwise, the West will eventually fail with zero virtue, leading to an unpleasant destiny and demise.

The end of Apple Daily is a symbolic event in which the national security defects of Hong Kong's rule of law and the lack of the "one country, two systems" system are effectively remedied, and it is a brand-new starting point for Hong Kong-style freedom of speech and freedom of the press. From now on, the freedom of speech of different groups in Hong Kong can be expressed without incitement or fear, different news organisations can report facts and monitor the government within the scope of legal protection, and people can engage in rational discussions and democratic participation on institutional and policy issues, and receive timely responses from the SAR government and the Central Government. Such Hong Kong-style freedom of speech, freedom of the press and democracy are what the NSL aims to pursue and protect, and what the "one country, two systems" institutional system is designed to regulate.


Changing CE Can Reshape Gov's Credibility as Trust Remains Crux; Declining Check & Balance by Media, LegCo May Lead to Unrestrained Power: Scholar

Changing CE Can Reshape Gov's Credibility as Trust Remains Crux; Declining Check & Balance by Media, LegCo May Lead to Unrestrained Power: Scholar
Translated by HKCT, written by Cheung Tung @ Ming Pao (11 Jun 2021)
Original: https://news.mingpao.com/pns/%e6%b8%af%e8%81%9e/article/20210611/s00002/1623350391769/%e8%91%89%e5%81%a5%e6%b0%91-%e6%8f%9b%e7%89%b9%e9%a6%96%e5%8f%af%e9%87%8d%e5%a1%91%e6%94%bf%e5%ba%9c%e5%85%ac%e4%bf%a1%e5%8a%9b-%e7%a8%b1%e6%9e%97%e9%84%ad%e9%9b%a3%e6%8c%bd%e5%b8%82%e6%b0%91%e4%bf%a1%e4%bb%bb-%e5%80%a1%e6%b8%9b%e5%9c%8b%e5%ae%89%e7%b3%bb%e7%b5%b1%e3%80%8c%e8%83%bd%e8%a6%8b%e5%ba%a6%e3%80%8d 

The ripple of the anti-ELAB movement in 2019 remains. In an interview with Ming Pao, Professor Ray Yep Kin-man of the Department of Public Policy at the City University of Hong Kong said that the government's credibility is bankrupt and its administration is getting half the result with twice the effort. He pointed the finger at Chief Executive Carrie Lam, saying that she could not gain people's trust and changing the CE would be the way to let Hong Kong start afresh. In view of the current confidence crisis, he hoped the next government would restore the "rule of law tradition" and advocate a sound culture of accountability; take into account the public perception and reduce the "visibility" of the national security system; and officials should exercise self-discipline and avoid arbitrarily warning the public that they might break the law.

In the aftermath of the anti-ELAB controversy, Yep believes that the biggest crisis in the governance of the Hong Kong government is the bankruptcy of its credibility, pointing the finger at Carrie Lam. He said that if the previous election system cannot be restored, "replacing the Chief Executive" is also a way to rebuild the government's credibility, and the new government should seize the "honeymoon period" after taking office to build a smoother relationship between the government and the people.

When asked about his evaluation of Mrs Lam, Yep said, "If she were to leave now, I would give her 1 point". He said the anti-ELAB movement had caused turmoil in Hong Kong, the Central Government had become highly involved and the international community had questioned "one country, two systems", all because of Mrs Lam's misjudgement. "Even according to the Mainland's approach, if you fail to fight the epidemic, you will have to 'lose your seat'. ...... People don't care how (Mrs Lam) can restore confidence, they just ask: why are you still here?"

The trust crisis is hindering the government's administration. Yep believes that the government is getting half the result with twice the effort, as it is causing doubts among the public, regardless of whether the policies are reasonable or not, as evidenced by its work in fighting the epidemic. He said he had received the COVID vaccine, but refused to download the LeaveHomeSafe app, not because he was worried that the app was under government control. "Many people think that if there is a way to express dissatisfaction towards the government and the cost is nearly nothing, I will do it too. It's not very useful, but it's a way to send a message to the government that I'm not happy with you".

It has been almost a year since the National Security Law came into force. Fear is now prevalent in civil society and 'strong measures' have been effective in suppressing resistance. But as the epidemic has prevented the organisation of activities, the 'resilience' of the community's resistance will need to be tested when the epidemic subsides. "The fact that a certain number of people will not forget is an important breeding ground for the next wave of conflict", said Yep. He said research showed that the some frontline protesters in the 2019 anti-ELAB movement were also involved in the 2014 Occupy movement. As the Gordian knot builds up in people's mind, he believes the worst thing to do is to "tell people to 'move on'".

The Chief Executive election will be held in March next year. In terms of expectations for the next government, Yep said that the line between breach of the law under the National Security Law is blurred, and that freedom is becoming narrower and narrower as people set their own limits out of fear. He hopes that Hong Kong will return to its "rule of law tradition" and that officials will exercise self-discipline and not warn people of possible violations of the law, otherwise society will be "ruled of man rather than by law". As for law enforcement and prosecution, he also hoped that the process will be more stringent, otherwise detention will be a punishment for the victim. "It may sound reasonable to leave it to the court to decide, but the process has already detained the victim for a long period of time, and the police or the prosecution are almost replacing the court".

Yep hoped that the next government will minimise the "visibility" of the national security system and balance the practical needs with the public perception. The national security system cannot be part of life, or it would be unfavourable to the healthy development of society, said Yep. In addition, he hopes that the government will establish a sound culture of accountability and respect the monitoring of public power by the media, "I dare not ask for much else."

The Central Government has reshaped Hong Kong's electoral system and repeatedly emphasised the "executive-led" approach. According to political scientist Ray Yep, Beijing has downplayed the "separation of powers" in recent years, and the purpose of revising the electoral system is to make the "executive-led system unbeatable" and to dwarf the role of the Legislative Council, "the (future Legislative Council) has to be cooperative with the Chief Executive's administration, and it can put forward some views, but it should not stir up trouble, and it should not drag the government's feet as it did before. He is concerned that the lack of monitoring by legislators has gradually bred a culture of arrogant officials who are unwilling to accept any criticism.

With direct election seats slashed to 20 seats in the next Legislative Council, Yep said that the chances of people electing their preferred candidate through the ballot box have diminished and the representativeness of the Legislative Council has decreased. He expects that the new system will not allow any "troublemakers" to enter the legislature, and that there will be no real opposition in the legislature, which is already seen by Hong Kong people as a place for "going through the motions". Some members of the pro-Beijing camp said that the government would consult lawmakers in advance before proposing policy proposals, so most bills could be passed by the Legislative Council. He stressed the importance of the deliberation process, which can show public opinion.

The ImmD's rebuttal of the audit report was made public earlier. Yep said the report's almost moralistic criticism still caused a backlash, showing that officials were hostile to the internal monitoring system and could not even criticise "their own people". For example, when the Chief Executive (Carrie Lam) encountered different views, she would use the term 'so-called experts and scholars', and would easily accuse others of having 'ulterior motives'.

With the weakening of the media and the Legislative Council's monitoring function over the government, Yep is worried that when power is not restrained, there may be corruption within the government, which will bring hidden worries to the quality of governance. "In the end, we can only leave it to fate and hope that the officials are good people. ...... Similar to the ancient Chinese people, they hope that a good emperor will appear, and if not, they hope that his son will be good."


[US CIA Intelligence Memorandum] 11 July 1967: The Situation in Hong Kong

The Situation in Hong Kong
Written by Office of Current Intelligence, US CIA; and Office of Economic Research
11 July 1967 [Intelligence Memorandum, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA]

- Summary -

The border clash on 8 July during which five policemen were killed in an exchange of small arms fire with Communist militia makes it clear that the Chinese authorities intend to keep the Hong Kong issue hot. Peking's official treatment of the incident thus far, however, does not indicate that the Chinese Communists are aiming for a showdown with the British at this time. There will probably be more trouble during the weeks ahead. Riots and violent demonstrations inside the Colony appear almost certain and there may be additional border incidents. Given the state of confusion within the Chinese Communist leadership and the pressures generated in the capital, at the provincial level, and within the Communist. apparatus in Hong Kong by the latest phase of the "cultural revolution," these could get out of hand and escalate into a direct confrontation over the status of the Colony. The pattern of events during the past several months suggests, however, that Peking is operating on a longer range plan calculated to erode the position of the Hong Kong authorities and thus prepare the ground for an effort by the local Communist apparatus to assume de facto control over Hong Kong in a year or so--on the pattern of the Macao takeover last winter. The resolute stand taken thus far by the British, the demonstrated effectiveness of control measures adopted by the Hong Kong authorities, and the lack of “revolutionary" enthusiasm shown by the general population in the Colony, seem unlikely to encourage Peking to move more quickly. The Chinese Communists can be expected to continue--and perhaps to increase--their support of local opposition in Hong Kong but probably will refrain from actions involving the risk of war, or even moves which would disrupt the Colony to such an extent that Peking was denied the vital foreign exchange earned there--approximately one third of China's total earnings in 1966.

- Background -

1. The present troubles in Hong Kong can be traced back to a shift in Communist tactics with respect to the Colony which apparently was adopted around the beginning of this year. Prior to that time the Communist apparatus in Hong Kong had been relatively circumspect. Instructions issued in January 1967 by a senior official who had returned from a visit to China the preceding month changed this line. He ordered increased exploitation of industrial disputes in order to indoctrinate the workers with "Maoist thought” and stated specifically that the objective of the new program was to further the “anti-British struggle.”

2. There was an increase in industrial unrest during the late winter and early spring, but the British authorities sought to avoid trouble by standing clear of the disputes and leaving them to be settled by labor-management bargaining. On 6 May, however, violence broke out during a factory strike which required police intervention, The Communist press -- first in Hong Kong and then on the mainland -- reacted with charges that the Hong Kong Government had committed "atrocities" and demanded that those responsible be punished.

3. The initial propaganda attack was followed by three days of Communist-inspired rioting which began on 11 May. On 15 May Peking took formal cognizance of the situation by delivering a Foreign Ministry statement to the British chargé demanding that workers arrested in Hong Kong be released, that those responsible for the arrests be punished, that apologies and compensation be offered, and that a guarantee be provided against any similar incident in the future. A campaign of harassment against British diplomatic personnel in China began at this time. Massive demonstrations were staged outside the British Embassy. The British Consulate in Shanghai was forced to close and the officers there were roughly handled by Red Guard hoodlums.

- The Initiative for the Disorders -

4. It is still not clear whether the strike violence on 6 May and the ensuing riots in the Colony were the result of local Communist initiative or were specifically ordered by Peking. The nine-day delay between the incident on 6 May and the Foreign Ministry statement on 15 May suggests, however, that the campaign originated in Hong Kong. The leaders of the local apparatus almost certainly felt under considerable pressure to demonstrate their militancy — in view of the current demands of the "cultural revolution” — and may have decided that the time was ripe to launch a major campaign based on what appear to have been very general instructions to take a harder line in exploiting labor unrest.

5. It is possible that the local leaders overestimated their own capabilities, underestimated the ability of the British to resist pressure, and presented an optimistic picture to Peking which secured official endorsement and direct involvement of the Chinese Communist regime in support of their plans. Foreign Ministry officials in the capital had been under heavy extremist pressure for months and might therefore have been inclined to put "politics in command" over their normal caution.

- The British Reaction and its Effects -

6. Undoubtedly encouraged by the Foreign Ministry statement, the Hong Kong apparatus launched a series of "Red Guard" type demonstrations and encouraged strikes designed to cripple public services and promote mass disorder. The Hong Kong Government was Operating on the assumption that Peking did not intend to seize the Colony and that in this situation it had much to gain and little to lose by refusing to give an inch. London refused to reply to the Chinese Foreign Ministry demands and issued a statement supporting the Hong Kong authorities. The Hong Kong police stood firm and generally were able to maintain order while employing a minimum of force.

7. Failure of the efforts of local Communists to intimidate the British began to sap their morale and a number of them expressed disappointment over the support they were receiving from Peking. (redacted; 1.5(c)(d), 3.4(b)(1)(6)) on 23 May a number of senior officials in the Hong Kong apparatus revealed growing discouragement. They attributed the resolute stand taken by the British to a "reasonable" judgment that China did not wish to take over Hong Kong at that time. They were reported to believe that Peking did not entirely agree with efforts by the local apparatus to "escalate" the confrontation and privately admitted that the British were following a clever policy in suppressing the demonstrations without creating a host of martyrs—in contrast to the mistakes made by the Portuguese in Macao.

8. By the end of May the Colony had returned to relative calm despite Sporadic harassment strikes inspired by the Communists and financed in part by Peking through front organizations. Communist officials in Hong Kong began at this point to sav that the struggle against the British could take as long as two years. This situation continued throughout most of June. A "general strike" was called on 24 June but the next day a senior Communist official in the local party organization admitted to his subordinates that the effort had been a failure. (redacted; 1.5(c)(d), 3.4(b)(1)(6)) the call for a general strike had been “wishful thinking” because "the masses were difficult to mobilize."

- Peking's Actions -

9. Communist China made a number of gestures in support of the Hong Kong Communists at this time, but they were little more than token encouragement. On 25 June, the day following the abortive general strike, Peking halted deliveries of water to Hong Kong. This was clearly intended to harass the British and to remind them of their dependence on mainland water supplies. The Chinese took this step only after they had delivered all the water they had contracted to supply under the existing agreement, however, and at a time of year when the water situation in the Colony is normally not critical. Peking is not obligated to sell more water to Hong Kong until October and has ignored a British request -- probably designed to probe Chinese intentions -- for additional supplies at this time.

10. On 26 June the British chargé was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and given a note protesting alleged overflights of Chinese territory and charging the British with "bloody persecution" in suppressing the Hong Kong general strike. The Chinese note once again called for immediate fulfillment of the demands made on 15 May but contained no time limit for compliance. The chargé reported that his meeting with the Foreign Ministry official was conducted in "very low key," and commented that the note appeared mainly designed to divert attention from the failure of the general strike.

11. The Hong Kong Communists called a four-day "food strike" on 29 June and Peking cooperated by banning shipment of meat and produce to the Colony from the mainland. The strike proved to be ineffective -- 85 percent of the vendors were back in business by the fourth day -- and the ban on food shipments was ended when the strike collapsed on 3 July. Continuation of the ban for a long period would have worked a hardship on the predominately Chinese population of the Colony and Peking was apparently unwilling to do this -- or to lose the foreign exchange earnings involved -- once the ineffectiveness of the effort by the local organization had been demonstrated.

- Current Chinese Attitude -

12. The Chinese Communists probably believe that they have committed themselves too far to permit a complete disengagement from the Hong Kong issue and Peking probably believes it necessary to provide sufficient political and financial support to maintain pressure and agitation at roughly the present level. It seems likely, however, that Chinese Communist actions will in the main be determined by the effectiveness of the Hong Kong apparatus in securing support from the local population. An editorial in People's Daily on 5 July emphasized the role of the local Communist organization in continuing the struggle. The editorial asserted that the "worker's strike" is the principal weapon in the battle against the British at present’ and declared that the Hong Kong workers, the "main force," must do a good job in uniting the population behind them.

- Recent Incidents -

13. If the clash on 8 July at the border village of Sha Tau Kok in the Hong Kong New Territories was ordered by Peking, it should probably be interpreted in this context -- as a move to keep the pressure on and to encourage the local Communist organization. The village straddles the frontier --which runs along its main street -- and provides an excellent arena for hit-and-run raids in a war of nerves. On 8 July a mob of demonstrators, some of them armed, came over from Communist territory. Police attempting to eject them were fired upon. Five officers were killed and more than eleven were wounded in the unequal exchange which ensued -- police revolvers end carbines against infantry weapons in the hands of Communist militia.

14. The incident was almost certainly premeditated and the fact that five Chinese army officers were observed inspecting the area following a smaller demonstration which took place two days earlier suggests, that the Communists planned for a fire-fight. During the five hours while the clash was in progress, a Chinese army battalion was moved up piecemeal to the frontier. (redacted; 1.5(c)(d), 3.4(b)(1)(6)) Information which has subsequently become available raises the possibility that the Sha Tau Kok fire-fight was planned and executed by local hot-heads or perhaps by a provincial faction with an ax to grind. Peking may have learned of the clash only after the fact. Senior Communist officials in Hong Kong were apparently taken by surprise, and it seems likely that they would have been forewarned if the fighting had been part of a centrally controlled campaign.

15. The British chargé delivered a protest to the Foreign Ministry on 9 July and got the impression during his meeting with Vice Minister Lo Keui-po that the Chinese had been caught off base by the incident. Lo appeared embarrassed when the chargé quoted account from the Communist press in Hong Kong admitting that Chinese militia had crossed the border and fired on Hong Kong police. The chargé reports that Lo was ill at ease throughout the interview and he believes the Chinese fully realized the seriousness of the incident and were on the defensive.

16. In any event Peking's official treatment of the clash does not indicate an intention to build on the incident. The Foreign Ministry note delivered to the British chargé on 9 July blamed the Hong Kong authorities and called on the British to apologize, to punish those responsible, to pay compensation, and to guarantee that no similar incidents would occur in the future. The note was not so strongly worded as some earlier Chinese statements on Hong Kong, contained no threat of reprisal, and did not set a deadline for compliance with Peking's demands.

17. On 9 July Communist zealots in Hong Kong provoked a riot in which one policeman and a number of demonstrators were killed. More of the same is probably in prospect. Communist-controlled schools in the Colony are reported to be planning to keep students on hand during the summer vacation to take part in anti-government activity. It seems unlikely, however, that Peking intends at this time to go much beyond support of this kind of activity, possibly accompanied by recurrent harassment along the frontier. Escalation of Chinese military threats to Hong Kong would involve the risk of war, which could develop into a conflict with the US. Use of economic sanctions at Peking’s disposal -- cutting off water supplies and stopping food shipments -- would inflict further damage on the Communist position with the Hong Kong population and could result in the loss of vital foreign exchange earned through trade with the Colony.

- China's Financial Interests -

18. Hong Kong is Communist China's largest single export market. It is also China's most important single source of foreign exchange. Last year the Chinese Communists earned over $550 million in Hong Kong trade, approximately one-third of their total earnings of foreign exchange. Chinese exchange earnings from Hong Kong have increased rapidly, almost doubling in the last five years and are still growing. Almost all of this would be lost if Peking took over the Colony, and a significant proportion would go by the board if the Chinese Communists took action short of seizure, which in effect would put Hong Kong out of business. Some direct sales to the Colony would continue but there would be a marked decline in foreign exchange earnings which would be a serious blow to Peking. The Chinese are obliged to buy some kinds of specialized scientific and technical equipment abroad as well as ordinary machinery and chemical fertilizer. A major item of expenditure for the last six years has been for the purchase of grain to meet the requirements of China's expanding population. Peking spent $375 million in foreign exchange during 1966 to buy grain.


[English trans.] International conflicts: Macro-analysis on Hong Kong as a Cold War base against Communist China (Dec 1967)

International conflicts: Hong Kong (Dec 1967)
Translated by HKCT, written by Georges Fischer [CC-NC-BY-SA]
Heading by HKCT
Original: https://www.persee.fr/doc/rfsp_0035-2950_1968_num_18_2_393085 

It is always risky to comment on current and evolving events. The difficulty is even greater when it comes to events that involve China and part of the Hong Kong population. One can only confess ignorance as to the real intentions and motivations of these two actors, as to the true nature of their mutual relations. We will limit ourselves here to outlining their attitudes as well as that of the third actor, the United Kingdom.

It is worth recalling that the so-called Hong Kong crisis began in early May 1967 with workers' demonstrations, which were rather harshly repressed, and continued with bombings, border incidents, protests and an ultimatum from Peking, and violence against British diplomats in China. Since November, there has been some easing of tension both in Hong Kong and in Sino-British relations.

Let us start with China. In the background, like a more or less sonorous chorus, resounds the claim of all Chinese regimes against a situation due to the semi-colonial state to which China was reduced in the past.

The island of Hong Kong was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Nanking of 29 August 1842, and the Kowloon Peninsula by the Treaty of Peking of 24 October 1860. In addition, the "New Territories" was leased for 99 years by the Peking Convention of 9 June 1898. As a result of imperialism, unequal treaties and China's diminished status among nations, the status of Hong Kong (like that of Macau) is, by the same token, quite special. As early as the 1911 revolution, China demanded the abrogation of the unequal treaties and the idea of a revision of these treaties was accepted by the Washington Conference of 1921. From 1925 to 1927, the Kuo Min Tang tried to destroy Hong Kong's economic base, trade, by organising a boycott of the port and major strikes. In a memorandum in 1926, Britain announced that it would agree to the revision of the treaties

... on the day when Chinese political life is normalised. Under the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 20 April 1930, Wei-Hai-Wei was ceded back to China. In May 1931, the Chinese National Convention declared that all unequal treaties were abrogated and cancelled from 1 January 1932. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria postponed the implementation of this declaration. During the Second World War, Chiang Kai-shek, who received the support of some American officials, including President Roosevelt, hoped to recover Hong Kong, but the Anglo-Chinese Convention of 11 January 1943, which put an end to the unequal relationship between the two countries, contained no mention of this.

At a time when it was already in agony, in 1946-1948, Chiang's regime unleashed a violent agitation against Britain and for the retrocession of Hong Kong. It seems that this problem becomes explosive for China every time it experiences serious internal difficulties. In any case, the new regime showed itself to be moderate, even when in 1950, in spite of its demands, 73 planes of Chiang's that had landed in Hong Kong were, under American pressure and contrary to international law, returned by Britain to Taiwan [1]. In the same year, the Hong Kong authorities imposed for the first time restrictions on the entry of Chinese, which, according to the treaties in force, should remain free. China immediately protested [2]. In 1955, an Indian plane carrying Chinese and Polish journalists to the Bandoeng conference crashed after being sabotaged, despite a warning from Peking, by Chiang's agents in Hong Kong. China protested [3] and protested again on 22 January 1957, accusing the Hong Kong government of harbouring Taiwanese and Kuo Min Tang agents and protecting their activities [4]. However, there is no indication that the Peking government intends to seriously question the status of the territory. In September 1956, the governor of the latter made an official visit to Peking. In 1960, an agreement was signed between the Kwangtung and Hong Kong authorities on the supply of water, granted by the former to the latter.

However, the great Sino-Soviet confrontation began. The Russians, accused of bowing to America and sacrificing the cause of oppressed peoples, replied on 12 December 1962, through the mouth of N. S. Khrushchev, by reproaching the Chinese themselves for making concessions, for not following the Indian example (allusion to Goa) and for not taking over Hong Kong. The same argument was invoked in 1963 by the Indians, who declared themselves more anti-colonial than the Chinese[5]. In January 1967, the Tass agency ironically underlined the contrast between the small territory of Macau, where the inhabitants had just achieved an undeniable success, and the large enclave of Hong Kong, where the situation remained unchanged.

Peking is hardly moved. In the People's Daily of March 8, 1963, it replied to similar complaints that the legacies of the past should, when conditions are ripe, be settled peacefully through negotiations. In the meantime, the status quo would remain.

China first protested against the presence of American warships in Hong Kong harbour in August 1964. The act in question was not the first of its kind, and it was not so much this act as the war measures taken by the Americans at the beginning of August (under the pretext of the attack allegedly launched against three American warships by North Vietnamese vessels) that explained the Chinese protest. Other protests were to follow, but it is worth highlighting the content of the first Chinese note on the crisis of 15 May 1967. It denounces, no doubt, the "conspiracy of the British government to collaborate with American imperialism against China" and "to continue to offer Hong Kong to the United States as a base for its aggression against Vietnam"; however, it contains nothing on this subject in its operative part[6].

But let's go back a bit. It was not until August 1966 that new words were spoken in China about Hong Kong. However, in November of the same year, a delegation from the territory, composed of Peking sympathisers, went to China to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sun Yat-sen. On their return, a member of the delegation explained that China's policy towards Hong Kong remained unchanged. There is no question of liberating the territory by armed force, or even of taking sudden action, as long as public opinion in Hong Kong is not prepared to accept a change in the current situation [7].

This attitude is not contradicted by the above-mentioned note of 15 May 1967 formulating the Chinese position, which subsequent notes will not change. China demands that the British Government and the territorial authorities take the following measures:

"Immediately accept all the legitimate demands of the Chinese workers and inhabitants of Hong Kong; immediately put an end to all fascist measures: release without delay all those arrested (including workers, journalists and photographers); punish the perpetrators of these bloody atrocities, apologise to the victims and compensate them for all losses suffered; and ensure that such incidents do not occur again."

Thus, China is not making any territorial claims, not asking for a change of status, but merely supporting the people of the territory and their claims. We will come back to this aspect of the problem when we study the situation in Hong Kong. Suffice it to say here that it is difficult to ascertain Peking's intentions, especially since, due to the Cultural Revolution, various interferences from Canton or even from Peking may have occurred. In any case, the idea that the Chinese government was thinking of a trial of strength must be ruled out. At the very most, it may have overestimated the audience that its supporters or sympathisers enjoyed among the population of the territory [8].

This cautious attitude, which was poorly masked by the Homeric epithets hurled at the British (and even the violence directed at British diplomats accredited to China), was partly explained by the economic factor. According to reliable estimates, China gained about £250 million in foreign exchange from Hong Kong in 1966, roughly half of its foreign exchange earnings in the same year. About two-thirds of this amount was the result of Chinese exports to Hong Kong exceeding imports from that territory. The rest is made up of income from banking, distribution and trade, remittances from Hong Kong Chinese to their families in China, etc. Chinese exports (mostly food products) accounted for more than a quarter of Hong Kong's imports in 1966. China, which is the territory's main supplier, imports very little. At one point during the crisis, Chinese exports slowed down, but this seems to be less the result of a political decision than of the disorganisation of transport following the Cultural Revolution. In any case, statistics for the first eight months of 1967 show a clear increase in Chinese exports to Hong Kong compared to the previous year [9].

It is again the economic factor that explains the recent financial manipulations. After the devaluation of the pound, the territory's authorities decided in November 1967 to devalue the Hong Kong dollar by 14.3%, only to revalue it four days later by 10%. It seems that the expectation was that China, in order to preserve its popularity with the people of the territory, would refrain from increasing the price of its exports accordingly. This expectation was disappointed, and it appears that, on reflection, there was no desire to maintain measures that could have put China and Hong Kong in a delicate situation politically and economically [10].

The territory is a paradise for banks. There are seventy-two licensed and registered banks and three hundred and eighteen banking offices [11]. The Bank of China and other mainland banks are based in Hong Kong. They have made remarkable progress at the expense of non-communist Chinese banks. They handle large deposits, finance more and more operations, including shops selling exclusively Chinese products. Their political activity is also considerable. According to some, Peking has hoped that the current unrest would deal a serious blow to rival banks operating in the territory. In fact, nothing of the sort has happened [12].

The Peking government also owns a number of shipping companies in Hong Kong whose ships, flying the British flag, are actually Chinese-owned [13]. In addition, large sums of foreign currency were earned by China in 1966 in return for its water supplies to the colony [14]. These deliveries are governed by a 1964 agreement with the Canton authorities. Pumping was stopped on 25 June 1967, in strict compliance with the agreement. According to the agreement, Chinese deliveries of a specific quantity (which has been reached and represents about half of the current needs) were to be made from October to June, i.e. during the dry season. The agreement provided for the possibility for the colony to request additional quantities, but did not stipulate any obligation on the part of China to meet these requests, which were indeed made. Due to the particular weather conditions, water was in short supply and had to be rationed. But it should be noted that in 1968, Hong Kong's water resources are expected to increase threefold and the territory will no longer need Chinese supplies. Nevertheless, on 1 October, China resumed its supplies in accordance with the agreement.

After China's attitude, let us move on to Britain's. When one reads the parliamentary debates and the publications of the political parties, one is struck by the scarcity of statements or positions on Hong Kong. This can be explained by the British discomfort with the territory's unique and special status. Let us recall that the foundations of British colonial policy were defined in the Commons by Colonel Stanley (then Colonial Secretary) on 13 July 1943 in these terms: “But We are pledged to guide Colonial people along the road to self-government within the framework of the British Empire.” This statement envisaged a twofold development: a centrifugal movement in the relations of the colonies with the metropolis, and the development of democratic institutions within each dependency. However, nothing of the sort has happened so far in Hong Kong, which remains governed in a perfectly autocratic manner. We will come back to this problem later.

President Roosevelt envisaged an arrangement at Yalta whereby China would regain sovereignty over the territory, while it would remain, for a period to be determined, a free port subject to an international regime. The first post-war political document to mention Hong Kong is a Société Fabienne brochure. According to this publication, Hong Kong constitutes “a special problem”. The territory “was created under British protection; it has been a place of refuge; it has been a major free trade centre”. International administration, the brochure's authors note, is no longer advocated by anyone. China lacks a stable regime, law does not prevail and British, European, American and perhaps even Chinese merchants prefer the British regime. However, China's willingness to do so must be ascertained. One possible solution would be the recognition of Chinese sovereignty over the territory, which would remain under British administration on a transitional basis, at least as long as China was preoccupied with rebuilding the country and erasing the traces of the devastation [15].
In 1948, two Labour government spokesmen stated that no change in the territory's status as a Crown colony was envisaged. Britain intended to maintain its position in Hong Kong, whose value and importance as a centre of stability in a particularly troubled situation was greater than ever [17]. The British attitude was thus characterised by stability and continuity.

Hong Kong played an important role in Britain's relations with Communist China. In June 1949, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Alexander, went to Hong Kong where he showed himself to be more eager to conciliate the new Chinese regime than to insist on the strategic role of the territory. On 6 January 1950, Great Britain recognised the government in Peking; it seems that this recognition, under the conditions in which it was carried out, was intended to better preserve the status quo in Hong Kong.

In 1955, an English expert recalled the Roosevelt plan from Yalta and thought that it could be revived in the very distant future[18]. Two years later, both Conservatives and Labour were concerned with the problem of small dependent territories. The Labour Party pamphlet asserts the right of every territory to self-determination and democratic institutions. Territories not exercising the right of secession could benefit from the new constitutional status of dominion (internal self-government; management of foreign affairs and defence by another Commonwealth state). The possibility is also envisaged of participation in a federation or integration into a sovereign state [19]. But Hong Kong is only mentioned at the beginning of the text, where a few lines of statistical information are given. Does this mean that the conclusions of the brochure and the solutions it proposes should, in the mind of the author, apply to the territory? There is every reason to doubt this when one considers the record of the Labour government and the statements we are about to make. As for the Conservatives, they object to the rigid system proposed by Labour [20], consider that small non-viable territories have no inherent right to self-determination, and declare that Hong Kong is an absolutely unique case which should continue to be considered as such [21].

No mention is made of Hong Kong in a 1962 Bow Group pamphlet [22]. In contrast, A. Creech-Jones, the former Colonial Secretary in the Labour government, in a debate on small territories, welcomed the agreement of the two political parties and the convergence of their colonial policy; he believed that an arrangement with China and the UN should be made when the lease expired [23], i.e. in 1997. Christopher Mayhew, a Labour supporter of disengagement and the abandonment of the "East of Suez" policy, believes that by the end of the 1970s Britain will still have a presence in Hong Kong [24]. A recent study envisages difficulties only at the end of the 99-year lease when, according to the author, China will claim even the territories that were finally ceded in the 19th century [25]. The spokesman for the Labour government does not envisage independence or internal autonomy for Hong Kong, nor does he envisage it becoming part of China [26].

What is the reason for this desire and hope to remain? Let's take the strategic factor first, which covers two distinct but closely intertwined notions: the military value of the territory and the will to defend it. In 1945, British military leaders insisted on the strategic value of Hong Kong [27], but this consideration tended to lose its importance soon after. In contrast, Churchill declared in 1948 that the territory should be defended against any attack [28]. This statement, aimed at a Chinese regime in the process of dissolution, did not have very serious consequences. But how far will we go in other circumstances and against another China? No firm answer can be given, and we must be content with providing a few pointers for orientation.

It is known that from 1949 onwards, Britain adopted a different attitude towards China from that of the United States. For the British, trade relations with the new China could be developed through the experience and skills of their country and their compatriots. The establishment and development of economic ties will, in time, have an effect on the political level.

Britain and the US also disagree on the conditions for the creation and composition of a regional security organisation. It is all the more curious that there is a tendency in some British circles to defend Hong Kong with American support. One Conservative MP claims that Britain will defend Hong Kong with the help of the US [29]. A senior civil servant also insists on American defence and power [30]. A well-known expert estimated that an attack on Hong Kong would trigger a general war [31]. In 1949, Bevin said he feared that the Communists would launch a violent action in Hong Kong [32]. Attlee, in his letter to President Truman of 6 July 1950, included the territory among the areas in which the two governments should co-ordinate their action and adopt a common policy [33]. A little later, A. Eden also thought of protecting Hong Kong with the help of the Americans[34]. It is worth noting in this sense an ambiguous statement by Dean Acheson on 1 June 1951, according to which the territory was a very valuable observation post for the United States and its loss would have serious consequences.  Some see this as a promise of help in case of aggression [35].

In reality, the United States considered Hong Kong to be a British problem [36]. The territory was removed from the protection of the S.E.A.T.O., partly because Britain did not want to provoke China. During the great debate on American foreign policy, the report commissioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not even mention Hong Kong [37]. Mr Johnson, then Vice President, was thinking of propaganda possibilities; on 15 May 1961, stopping in Hong Kong, he described the territory as "a showcase in Asia for the free way of life" [38]. At present, in any case, it is clear that Washington has no desire to add new obligations to those it has already assumed in Asia, or to substitute itself for Britain on that continent.

In London, there is a growing realisation that Hong Kong cannot be defended. A leading British scholar said: “We hold Hong Kong because of Mao's goodwill. [39]” Christopher Mayhew asserted that the British forces in the territory were there to maintain order and provide token resistance in case they were attacked [40]. In his opinion, the British presence in the territory was maintained because of the tolerance of China, which was likely to find sufficient allies without being forced to commit aggression [41]. On this last point, the former minister was mistaken or did not take into consideration the effects of the Cultural Revolution.

Moreover, the number of British forces in Hong Kong was reduced. In the last period, it amounted to 10,000 men, including the Gurkhas battalion and local forces [42]. If in 1966, the total cost of the defence of Hong Kong for Britain was £16 million, it will only reach £12 million in 1967. On the other hand, the territory's contribution continued to increase: from £1.5 million in 1958, it reached £2.5 million per year from 1964 onwards and £5 million since 1967 [43].

If the strategic factor has thus lost its interest, there are others that retain their importance. According to some, Hong Kong is a centre from which justice and freedom radiate to China and Asia [44]. For others, British achievements in Hong Kong consolidated and increased the prestige of the metropolis in Asia [45]. But it is above all the economic factor that is emphasised [46]. Sir A. Eden emphasised the commercial interest of Hong Kong for Britain [47]. Various experts agree on the advantages that the United Kingdom derived from Hong Kong's trade, particularly the warehouse trade, as well as from investments made in the territory, from the banks established there, from insurance operations, and from transport[48]. Britain exports as much to Hong Kong (in value) as it imports. It exports machinery, motor vehicles and textiles. It mainly imports textiles, the quantity of which is subject to "voluntary" limitation agreements [49]. To this must be added the earnings from warehouse trade and investments, which were estimated in 1955 at £250-350 million [50]. The British banks, especially the oldest and most powerful in the territory, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, did huge business and made considerable profits, especially since they had been handling funds and capital from China, various parts of Asia (mostly deposited by overseas Chinese) and the United States since 1947.

The possession of Hong Kong presented yet another advantage for Britain. After 1955, the level of colonial sterling balances held by London declined steadily, with the exception of Hong Kong, whose balances increased steadily from £132 million in 1955 to £183 million in 1960, £280 million in 1965 and £350 million at the end of 1967. However, unlike the balances belonging to foreigners or independent Commonwealth countries, those belonging to a colonial territory like Hong Kong are, if not blocked, at least invested in London for the long term and, in fact, the territory is not free to use them [52].

It is now appropriate to examine some factors relating to the internal structure of Hong Kong. The territory covers an area of 1,031 square kilometres and is home to almost four million people. More than one million refugees have entered Hong Kong since the new regime was installed in Peking. Since 1956, and contrary to the treaties in force, refugees are only admitted if their number does not exceed that of the departures [53]. The Chinese represent 98% of the population. More than half were born in the territory and are therefore British citizens. Moreover, half of the inhabitants are under sixteen years old. This last fact alone constitutes one of the factors of the current unrest, especially since, although great and remarkable efforts have been made in the field of housing and education, all the children are far from going to school and primary education is still not free [54].

Economic and social life was characterised by paternalism, laissez-faire, lack of legislation and social security.

After the outbreak of the Korean War, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on China, which had the effect of developing local industry. Out of a working population of 1,592,000 people, 635,000 are employed in manufacturing [55]. One of the reasons for the industrial development was the low wages. According to a Labour MP, “working conditions in Hong Kong are so fantastic that they just cannot be reconciled with the principles which brought the Labour Government—my Government—into power” [56]. There is no legislation prescribing weekly rest or limiting men's working hours. Since 1959, there have been laws regulating the working hours of women and young people under the age of 18, which are set at ten hours a day and sixty hours a week, and for young people between the ages of fourteen and sixteen at eight hours a day and forty-eight hours a week. The employment of children under the age of fourteen is prohibited, but this prohibition is hardly respected: more than 17,000 children leave school each year at the age of twelve [57].

The trade unions are highly politicised and very weak. They can be divided into three groups: the independents (not very influential), the Peking-supporting Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, and the Chiang-supporting Hong Kong and Kowloon Trades Union Council [58]. The obligation for any union to register - and this is not a mere formality - is perhaps, in the Hong Kong context, one of the reasons for union weakness.

However, in some industries and companies workers became aware of their problems. The increase in transport prices caused riots in April 1966. Unrest resumed in February 1967 and became serious in April and May, when several strikes broke out. A Commonwealth Office statement on 16 May 1967 acknowledged that the unrest - the cause of the crisis - was due to "a relatively minor industrial dispute". It suggested that working conditions would be improved and that a mechanism for conciliation between employees and employers would be established. The government spokesman told the Commons that the unrest had started in one company with a strike and social-economic demands and that this unrest had been exploited by communist organisations from 11 May onwards. Social reforms were promised [59]. At the end of October, a member of the British government, Lord Shepherd, on a visit to the territory, announced that the working hours of women and young men would be progressively reduced from sixty to forty-eight hours over the next four years, starting on 1 December. Other measures are also envisaged.

Politically, Hong Kong is the only colony that seems to contradict British theory and practice regarding the evolution of dependent territories. Indeed, one remains struck, when reading the annual reports of the Hong Kong administration, by the spirit of classical colonialism that emerges. In reality, the Hong Kong government remained autocratic and concerned with escaping the influence of the metropolis and its interventions [60].

The institutions remained roughly the same as in 1843 [61]. The governor had all the executive powers. He was assisted by an Executive Council which had an advisory role and comprised, in addition to the governor, five ex officio members, one official chosen by the governor and eight non-official members appointed by the governor (currently five Chinese, two British and one Portuguese). The Legislative Council advises on and approves legislation drafted by the Governor and has certain financial powers. The Council, chaired by the Governor, now consists of four ex officio officials, eight appointed officials (including one Chinese) and thirteen appointed non-official members (including nine Chinese and one Indian).

There is a twenty-six member Urban Council, ten of whom are elected; its jurisdiction extends mainly to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The theoretical electorate is 240,000 but only 26,000 people are registered to vote. It is true that the Urban Council has no power and spends most of its time issuing licences to street vendors. The New Territories are divided into four administrative districts headed by civil servants. There are twenty-seven rural committees, partially elected but in reality playing no role. As for the administrative services of the colony, only 46.1% of the posts in the qualified categories are filled by locally recruited staff [62].

Political progress in the British Dependent Territories (as in the others) was only achieved under pressure from the local population. The conditions in Hong Kong are quite particular. According to Professor Kirby, to talk about political autonomy in relation to the territory would be as absurd as talking about a railway station [63]. This remark is less relevant now that the proportion of Hong Kong-born inhabitants exceeds 50%. Others say that the population is not interested in politics, that it is totally apathetic [64]. Recent events have belied this view. Others, including the current British government, fear opening the floodgates of democracy, believing that such a move would lead to a confrontation between Peking and Taiwan supporters, with the latter possibly winning, making coexistence with China impossible [65]. It is questionable whether these apprehensions are entirely justified. Without doubt, it is in relation to Peking and Taiwan that the territory's activists have been determining themselves so far. But local issues are playing an increasing role and the communist unions themselves are beginning to take more interest in concrete and practical issues. On the other hand, the body can create function if it is given the right powers.

Some Labour MPs have proposed - rather vaguely - a widening of the electorate and the granting of more extensive powers to deliberative bodies. But the only progress the London government is currently considering is on the municipal and urban front. A commission was appointed to study reforms. It reported in February 1967 and made only timid proposals: the creation of two new city councils, a very small increase in the powers of the councils and in the number of elected members [67].

In any case, the lack of communication channels between the authorities and the population has created a dangerous situation that partly explains the current events. There is no reliable data on the size and strength of the various political tendencies. It is known that Taiwan and the Kuo Min Tang control the activities of numerous trade union, civic, official and Christian organisations, which are increasingly under the influence of the United States, which maintains its largest consulate in Hong Kong [68]. Peking, as we have seen, also has organisations and institutions there. According to some information, its supporters are divided into four groups: the group of the communist newspaper Ta Kung Pao; the group linked to Chou En-lai; the group linked to Tao Chu of Canton, currently in disgrace, formerly fourth in the Party hierarchy; and the group of bankers linked to those in charge of the Chinese economy [69].

In any case, since May 1967, and because of China's non-intervention, the divisions seem to have deepened among the communists and Peking sympathisers. The Peking-supporting trade unions do not seem to have mobilised more than their members. Reading the translations of the Renmin Ribao articles [70] of June, July, August 1967, as well as the New China News Agency bulletins, one is struck by the high proportion of pupils and students among the Hong Kong demonstrators.

Was the current crisis the initiative of Hong Kong or Peking officials? It is all the more difficult to answer this question because, as we have just shown, there are divisions among the supporters of China, because in the latter country the Cultural Revolution has caused the fragmentation of authority, and because, particularly in Canton and Kwangtung province (whose officials were in closest contact with Hong Kong), the situation has not yet been clarified to date. It can be seen that the unrest in Hong Kong began on 6 May 1967 with a strike and was rather harshly repressed, that on the 11th the movement took on a new dimension and that more general demands were made. The Chinese note that formulated the demands we know was dated 15 May, and it was the following day that the "Committee of Hong Kong-Kowloon Chinese Compatriots of All Circles for Struggle Against Persecution by the British Authorities in Hong Kong" was formed, which took up exactly the demands contained in the Chinese note. The Chinese ultimatum of 20 August can also be cited to show Peking's determination [71].

In reality, this is not the case. We have already shown that China was always very cautious and clearly intended to limit its stake. On 24 June, Chou En-lai declared: "The Chinese people are determined to give, *in accordance with the requirements of the situation*, all the support until the final victory, to our compatriots in Hong Kong who are loyal to the motherland [72]." From a certain point onwards, China seems to regard with some mistrust the action that is going on in the territory; it seems to realise that the population there is not yet ready for a change. It also preached the need to mobilise the masses more widely, to organise them better [73]. She insists on unity: the working class, the workers, must work to unite all patriots, even those who cannot join the action immediately, unless they are traitors [74].

That said, it seems likely that at some point Peking - like the Hong Kong activists - underestimated the capacity and will to resist the British and overestimated the fighting spirit of the masses. They probably thought that the Macau operation could be repeated with, perhaps, a little more pressure from China. The demands in the Chinese note of 15 May merely repeated those which had been presented to and accepted by the Macau authorities [75].

The Hong Kong crisis is fundamentally due to the survival, in one part of the world, of the unequal treaties, a legacy of the 19th century. But the timing and course of the crisis are affected by factors affecting Chinese and British foreign policy and strategy, the economic interests of both countries, the internal regime of China and Hong Kong, the political, economic and social structure of the colony.

Peking and communist activists in Hong Kong may have had hopes that a solution similar to the one reached in Macau could be achieved. These hopes were dashed for several reasons. The British had greater interests to defend; they also had greater means at their disposal. The socio-economic structure of Hong Kong, and in particular the employment structure, is more complicated than that of Macau. In underdeveloped countries, manufacturing workers, even when they become aware of their exploitation, are still in a favoured position compared to some other sections of the working population.

It should also be remembered that the proportion of refugees is higher in Hong Kong than in Macau [76]. The time factor also played a role: the strikers, with their limited resources, could not hold out for long, and the relief provided by Peking-sympathising rich Chinese dried up as the prospect of a quick solution to the conflict became more remote. The duration of the crisis could not fail to adversely affect China's economic interests, those of its banks and its Hong Kong-based sympathisers. The Hong Kong Communist newspaper Ta Kung Pao wrote on 27 May 1967: “When it comes to important matters of principle, China does not consider ephemeral economic interests and is ready to make the greatest sacrifice.” I have not found any such statement in the various articles in the Chinese press on the Hong Kong problem. In this area and up to now, China seems to have subordinated the ideological, political factor to the economic factor. The most radical country is thus adopting, for the time being, an approach that is exactly the opposite of the one that characterises the whole history of decolonisation, during which politics has constantly prevailed over economics. But perhaps the events of 1967 simply confirm the caution - in contrast to the rhetoric - of Peking's foreign policy.

In the Hong Kong affair, China wanted to constantly stand behind the inhabitants of the territory. This attitude limited the stakes of the conflict but made its solution more difficult. The British would have been willing to negotiate directly with the government in Peking, but could not discuss with the leaders of a violent action in the territory. The British, who had prided themselves on having so far succeeded in "neutralising" political life in Hong Kong, had to react with increasing vigour against communist organisations and the press [77], to the point of being approved by Taiwan. China has brought the importance of local issues to the fore. Perhaps an Indian observer is right when he says that after this crisis Hong Kong will not be the same [78].

December 1967.
G. F.


Revue française de science politique
Monsieur Georges Fischer
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Fischer Georges. Hong-Kong . In: Revue française de science politique, 18ᵉ année, n°2, 1968. pp. 315-332;
Fichier pdf généré le 23/04/2018

Le problème des enclaves territoriales
(Georges Fischer)

Il est toujours hasardeux de se prononcer sur des événements actuels et qui sont en pleine évolution. La difficulté est encore bien plus considérable quand il s'agit d'événements qui mettent en jeu la Chine et une partie de la population de Hong-Kong. L'on ne peut qu'avouer son ignorance quant aux intentions réelles et aux motivations de ces deux acteurs, quant à la véritable nature de leurs rapports mutuels. Nous nous contenterons ici d'exposer leurs attitudes ainsi que celle du troisième acteur, le Royaume-Uni.
Il convient, au préalable, de rappeler que ce qu'on appelle la crise de Hong-Kong s'ouvre au début de mai 1967 par des manifestations d'ouvriers, assez durement réprimées, et qu'elle se poursuit par des attentats, des incidents de frontière, des protestations et un ultimatum de Pékin, des violences dont sont victimes en Chine des diplomates anglais. Depuis novembre, une certaine détente est intervenue aussi bien à Hong-Kong que dans les rapports sino-britanniques.
Commençons par la Chine. A l'arrière-plan, comme un choeur plus ou moins sonore, résonne la revendication de tous les régimes chinois contre une situation due à l'état semi-colonial auquel la Chine était réduite dans le passé.
L'île de Hong-Kong a été cédée à l'Angleterre par le traité de Nankin du 29 août 1842, et la péninsule de Kowloon, par le traité de Pékin du 24 octobre 1860. De plus, les « Nouveaux Territoires » ont été cédés à bail, pour 99 ans, par la convention de Pékin du 9 juin 1898. Résultat de l'impérialisme, des traités inégaux et de la situation amoindrie de la Chine parmi les nations, le statut de Hong-Kong (comme celui de Macao) est, par là même, tout à fait particulier. Dès la révolution de 1911, la Chine demande l'abrogation des traités inégaux et l'idée d'une révision de ces traités est acceptée par la conférence de Washington de 1921. De 1925 à 1927, le Kuo Min Tang s'efforce de détruire la base économique de Hong-Kong, le commerce, en organisant le boycottage du port ainsi que d'importantes grèves. Dans un mémorandum de 1926, l'Angleterre annonce qu'elle consentira à la révision des traités ... le jour où la vie politique chinoise sera normalisée. En vertu de la convention anglo-chinoise du 20 avril 1930, Weï-Haï-Weï est rétrocédé à la Chine. En mai 1931, la Convention nationale chinoise déclare que tous les traités inégaux sont abrogés et annulés à partir du 1er janvier 1932. L'invasion de la Mandchourie par le Japon ajourne la mise en oeuvre de cette déclaration. Pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, Tchang Kaï-Chek, qui reçoit l'appui de certains responsables américains, dont le président Roosevelt, espère récupérer Hong-Kong, mais la convention anglo-chinoise du 11 janvier  1943, qui met fin aux rapports inégaux entre les deux pays, ne contient aucune mention à ce sujet.
Au moment où il est déjà à l'agonie, en 1946-1948, le régime de Tchang déclenche une violente agitation contre l'Angleterre et pour la rétrocession de Hong-Kong. On dirait que ce problème deviant explosif pour la Chine chaque fois que celle-ci éprouve des difficultés sérieuses sur le plan interne. En tout cas, le nouveau régime se montre modéré, même lorsqu'en 1950, malgré ses réclamations, 73 avions de Tchang ayant atterri à Hong-Kong sont, sous la pression américaine et contrairement au droit international, rendus par l'Angleterre à Taïwan[1]. La même année les autorités de Hong-Kong imposent pour la première fois, des restrictions sur l'entrée des Chinois, qui, conformément aux traités en vigueur, doit demeurer libre. La Chine proteste aussitôt[2]. En 1955, un avion indien transportant des journalists chinois et polonais à la conférence de Bandoeng s'écrase après avoir été saboté, malgré un avertissement de Pékin, par des agents de Tchang à Hong-Kong. La Chine proteste[3] et elle protestera de nouveau le 22 janvier 1957, accusant le gouvernement de Hong-Kong d'abriter des agents de Taïwan et du Kuo Min Tang et de protéger leurs activités[4]. Cependant rien n'indique que le gouvernement de Pékin ait l'intention de remettre sérieusement en cause le statut du territoire. En septembre 1956, le gouverneur de ce dernier se rend en visite officielle à Pékin. En 1960, un accord est signé entre les autorités du Kouangtoung et celles de Hong-Kong sur la fourniture d'eau, consentie par les premières aux secondes.

1. Grantham (A.), Via Port, Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 1965, pp. 161-163, 169.
2. Cf. Luard (E.), Britain and China, London, Chatto and Windus, 1962.
3. Notes et études documentaires 3047, 16 déc. 1963, p. 10.
4. Joss (F..), Eastern World, août 1966, pp. 8-10.

Cependant s'engage la grande confrontation sino-soviétique. Les Russes, accusés de s'incliner devant l'Amérique et de sacrifier la cause des peuples opprimés, répliquent dès le 12 décembre 1962, par la bouche de N. S. Khrouchtchev, en reprochant aux Chinois eux-mêmes de faire des concessions, de ne pas suivre l'exemple indien (allusion à Goa) et de ne pas s'emparer de Hong-Kong. Le même argument est invoqué en 1963 par les Indiens qui se déclarent plus anticolonialistes que les Chinois[5]. En janvier 1967 encore, l'agence Tass souligne ironiquement le contraste entre le petit territoire de Macao, où les habitants viennent d'obtenir un succès indéniable, et l'importante enclave de Hong-Kong où la situation reste inchangée.
Pékin ne s'émeut guère. Par l'intermédiaire du People's Daily du 8 mars 1963, il répond à des reproches analogues que les legs du passé doivent, quand les conditions seront mûres, être réglés pacifiquement, par voie de négociation. En attendant le statu quo subsistera.
C'est en août 1964 que la Chine proteste pour la première fois contre la présence de navires de guerre américains dans le port de Hong-Kong. L'acte incriminé n'est pas le premier de ce genre et ce n'est pas tant cet acte que les mesures de guerre prises par les Américains au début d'août (sous le prétexte de l'attaque qu'auraient déclenchée contre trois navires de guerre américains des navires nordvietnamiens) qui expliquent la protestation chinoise. D'autres protestations vont suivre, mais il convient de souligner à ce sujet la teneur de la première note chinoise relative à la crise du 15 mai 1967. Elle dénonce, sans doute, le « complot du gouvernement britannique qui collabore avec l'impérialisme américain contre la Chine » et qui «continue d'offrir Hong-Kong aux Etats-Unis comme une base pour leur agression contre le Viêt-nam » ; cependant elle ne contient rien à ce sujet dans sa partie operative[6].
Mais retournons quelque peu en arrière. Ce n'est qu'en août 1966 que des mots d'ordre nouveaux sont lancés en Chine concernant Hong-Kong. Toutefois, en novembre de la même année, une délégation du territoire, composée de sympathisants de Pékin, se rend en Chine pour célébrer le centième anniversaire de Sun Yat-sen. A son retour, un membre de la délégation explique que la politique de la Chine à l'égard de Hong-Kong demeure inchangée. Il ne s'agit pas de libérer le territoire par la force armée, ni même de déclencher une action brusque, tant que l'opinion publique de Hong-Kong n'est pas préparée à accepter une modification de la situation actuelle [7].

5. Wilson (D.), « The future of Hong Kong », World To-day, sept. 1964, pp. 395-402. Cet article fournit encore d'autres exemples. Au comité spécial de l'O.N.U. sur le colonialisme, le délégué soviétique demande en 1964 la rétrocession de Hong-Kong à la Chine.
6. Pour le texte de cette note, cf. Notes et études documentaires 3420-3421, 20 sept. 1967, pp. 74-75.

Cette attitude n'est pas démentie par la note déjà citée du 15 mai 1967 formulant la position chinoise que les notes ultérieures ne modifieront pas. La Chine demande que le gouvernement britannique et lesautorités du territoire prennent les mesures suivantes :

« Accepter sur-le-champ toutes les demandes légitimes des ouvriers et des habitants chinois de Hong-Kong ; mettre immédiatement fin à toutes les mesures fascistes : relâcher sans tarder toutes les personnes arrêtées (y compris ouvriers, journalistes et photographes) ; châtier les coupables de ces atrocités sanglantes, présenter des excuses aux victimes et les dédommager de toutes les pertes subies ; et garantir que de pareils incidents ne se renouvellent plus.»

On voit donc que la Chine ne présente pas de reclamations territoriales, ne demande pas un changement de statut, mais se contente d'appuyer la population du territoire et ses revendications. Nous reviendrons sur cet aspect du problème lorsque nous étudierons la situation à Hong-Kong. Qu'il suffise de remarquer, ici, qu'il est difficile de se rendre compte des intentions de Pékin, d'autant que, dues à la révolution culturelle, des interférences diverses venues de Canton ou même de Pékin, ont pu se produire. Il faut exclure, en tout cas, l'idée que le gouvernement chinois ait songé à une épreuve de force. Il a pu, tout au plus, surestimer l'audience dont jouissaient ses partisans ou sympathisants au sein de la population du territoire[8].
Cette attitude prudente, que masquent mal les épithètes homériques lancées à la tête des Anglais (et même les violences exercées à rencontre des diplomates anglais accrédités en Chine), s'explique en partie par le facteur économique. Suivant des estimations sérieuses, la Chine a obtenu en 1966, grâce à Hong-Kong, environ 250 millions de livres sterling en devises étrangères, ce qui représente, peu ou prou, la moitié de ses gains en devises pendant la même année. Environ les deux tiers de cette somme résultent de l'excédent des exportations chinoises vers Hong-Kong sur les importations en provenance de ce territoire. Le reste est constitué par des revenus bancaires, par ceux de la distribution et du commerce, par les envois d'argent des Chinois de Hong- Kong à leur famille en Chine, etc. Les exportations chinoises (en majeure partie des produits alimentaires) constituent plus du quart desimportations de Hong-Kong en 1966. La Chine, qui est le premierfournisseur du territoire, n'en importe que très peu. A un moment de la crise, les exportations chinoises se ralentissent, mais ceci semble résulter moins d'une décision politique que de la désorganisation des transports consécutive à la révolution culturelle. En tout cas, les statistiques portant sur les 8 premiers mois de 1967 montrent une nette augmentation des exportations chinoises vers Hong-Kong par rapport à la période de l'année précédente[9].

7. China News Analysis, 2 juin 1967.
8. Il convient aussi de remarquer que lors de la célébration du XVIIIe anniversaire de la République populaire de Chine, le problème de Hong-Kong n'a joué aucun rôle.
9. Far Eastern Economie Review, 6 juil. 1967, 27 juil. 1967, 3 août 1967 ; Hong Kong, Report for the year 1966, p. 54 ; The Times, 25 oct. 1967 ; Olver (A.S.B.), in : World To-day, juil. 1967, pp. 223-225.

C'est encore le facteur économique qui explique les manipulations financières récentes. Après la dévaluation de la livre, les autorités du territoire ont décidé, en novembre 1967, de dévaluer le dollar de Hong-Kong de 14,3 % pour le réévaluer, quatre jours après, de 10 %. Il semble que l'on s'attendait à ce que la Chine, pour ménager sa popularité auprès de la population du territoire, s'abstienne d'augmenter en conséquence le prix de ses exportations. Cette attente a été déçue, et il apparaît qu'après réflexion, on n'a pas voulu maintenir des mesures qui auraient pu mettre politiquement et économiquement la Chine et Hong-Kong dans une situation delicate[10].
Le territoire est le paradis des banques. Il en existe soixante-douze autorisées et enregistrées et il y a trois cent dix-huit bureau bancaires [11]. La Bank of China et d'autres banques de la Chine continentale sont installées à Hong-Kong. Elles ont fait de remarquables progrès aux dépens de banques chinoises non communistes. Elles manipulent des dépôts importants, financent des opérations de plus en plus nombreuses, et notamment des magasins vendant exclusivement des produits chinois. Leur activité politique est aussi considérable. D'après certains, Pékin a espéré que l'agitation actuelle permettrait de porter un coup sérieux aux banques concurrentes installées dans le territoire. En fait, rien de tel ne s'est produit [12].
Le gouvernement de Pékin possède aussi à Hong-Kong un certain nombre de compagnies de navigation dont les navires, battant pavillon britannique, appartiennent en réalité à la Chine [13]. D'autre part, des sommes importantes en devises ont été gagnées par la Chine en 1966, en contrepartie de ses livraisons d'eau à la colonie [14]. Ces livraisons sont régies par un accord de 1964 conclu avec les autorités de Canton. Le pompage a été arrêté le 25 juin 1967, dans le plus strict respect de l'accord. En vertu de celui-ci, les livraisons chinoises d'une quantité déterminée (qui a été atteinte et qui représente environ la moitié des besoins actuels) devaient s'effectuer d'octobre à juin, c'est-à-dire pendant la saison sèche. L'accord prévoyait la possibilité pour la colonie de demander des quantités supplémentaires, mais ne stipulait aucune obligation pour la Chine de satisfaire à ces demandes qui ont été effectivement présentées. En raison des conditions atmosphériques particulières, l'eau a manqué et a dû être rationnée. Mais il convient de noter qu'en 1968, les ressources en eau de Hong-Kong sont censées augmenter trois fois et le territoire n'aura alors plus besoin des livraisons chinoises. Toujours est-il que, le 1er octobre, la Chine a repris ses fournitures, conformément à l'accord.

10. Cf. The Economist, 25 nov. 1967.
11. Hong Kong, Report for the year 1966, p. 46.
12. The Economist, 18 nov. 1967 ; Roll (C), in : Aussenpolitik, mars 1967.
13. Cf. The Economist, 14 oct. 1967.
14. Suivant la Far Eastern Economie Review du 6 juillet 1967, il s'agissait de près
d'un million de livres ; d'après le Central Office of Information Factel, n° 540 du 1er août 1967, il s'agissait de 2,5 millions. 319

Après l'attitude de la Chine, passons à celle de l'Angleterre. Lorsqu'on parcourt les débats parlementaires et les publications des partis politiques, on est frappé par la rareté des déclarations ou prises de position relatives à Hong-Kong. On peut expliquer ce phénomène par le sentiment de gêne qu'éprouvent les Anglais devant le statut particulier, unique, du territoire. Rappelons que les fondements de la politique coloniale britannique ont été définis aux Communes par le colonel Stanley (alors secrétaire aux Colonies), le 13 juillet 1943, en ces termes : « Nous devons guider les peuples des colonies sur la route du self-government dans le cadre de l'Empire britannique. » Cette déclaration envisage une double évolution : un mouvement centrifuge dans les relations des colonies avec la métropole, et le développement des institutions démocratiques au sein de chaque dépendance. Or, rien de tel ne s'est produit jusqu'ici à Hong-Kong, qui demeure gouverné d'une manière parfaitement autocratique. Nous reviendrons plus loin sur ce problème.
Le président Roosevelt avait envisagé à Yalta un arrangement en vertu duquel la Chine recouvrerait la souveraineté sur le territoire cependant que ce dernier demeurerait, pendant une période à fixer, un port franc soumis à un régime international. Le premier document politique d'après-guerre qui mentionne Hong-Kong est une brochure de la Société fabienne. Suivant cette publication, Hong-Kong constitue « un problème spécial ». Le territoire « a été créé sous protection britannique ; il a été un lieu de refuge ; il a été un grand centre de libre-échange ». L'administration internationale, notent les auteurs de la brochure, n'est plus prônée par personne. La Chine ne dispose pas d'un régime stable, le droit n'y règne pas et les marchands britanniques, européens, américains et même peut-être chinois lui préfèrent le régime britannique. Il convient cependant de s'assurer de la bonne volonté de la Chine. Une solution possible serait la reconnaissance de la souveraineté chinoise sur le territoire qui demeurerait à titre transitoire sous administration britannique, du moins tant que la Chine se préoccupe de reconstruire le pays et d'effacer les traces des devastations[15].
En 1948, deux porte-parole du gouvernement travailliste affirment qu'aucun changement n'est envisagé dans le statut du territoire comme colonie de la Couronne [16]. L'Angleterre a l'intention de maintenir sa position à Hong-Kong dont la valeur et l'importance, en tant que centre de stabilité dans une situation particulièrement troublée, s'affirment plus grandes que jamais [17]. On voit donc que l'attitude anglaise se caractérise par la stabilité et la continuité.
Hong-Kong joue un rôle important dans les rapports de l'Angleterre avec la Chine communiste. En juin 1949, le Premier lord de l'Amirauté, Alexander, se rend à Hong-Kong où il se montre advantage désireux de se concilier le nouveau régime chinois que d'insister sur le rôle stratégique du territoire. Le 6 janvier 1950, la Grande-Bretagne reconnaît le gouvernement de Pékin ; il semble bien que cette reconnaissance, dans les conditions où elle a été effectuée, devait permettre, aux yeux des Anglais, de mieux préserver le statu quo à Hong-Kong.
En 1955, un expert anglais rappelle le plan Roosevelt de Yalta et pense qu'on pourrait le reprendre dans un avenir très éloigné[18]. Deux ans plus tard, les conservateurs comme les travaillistes se préoccupent du problème des petits territoires dépendants. La brochure du Parti travailliste affirme le droit de tout territoire à l'autodétermination et à des institutions démocratiques. Les territoires qui n'exerceraient pas le droit de sécession pourraient bénéficier du nouveau statut constitutionnel de dominion (autonomie interne ; gestion des affaires étrangères et de la défense par un autre Etat du Commonwealth). La possibilité est également envisagée de la participation à une fédération ou de l'intégration dans un Etat souverain[19]. Mais Hong-Kong n'est mentionné qu'au début du texte, où l'on donne en quelques lignes des informations statistiques. Cela signifie-t-il que les conclusions de la brochure et les solutions qu'elle propose doivent, dans l'esprit de leur auteur, s'appliquer au territoire ? Il y a tout lieu d'en douter si l'on considère le bilan du gouvernement travailliste ainsi que les déclarations dont nous allons faire état. Quant aux conservateurs, ils s'élèvent contre le système rigide proposé par le Labour[20], estiment que les petits territoires non viables n'ont aucun droit inhérent à l'autodétermination et déclarent que Hong-Kong constitue un cas absolument unique qui doit continuer à être considéré comme tel[21].

15. Strategic colonies and their [mure, London, Fabian Publications, oct. 1945, p. 11 (Research series. 100.)
16. House of Commons, 7 juil. 194S, W.A. col. 33 (Rees-Williams).
17. House of Commons, 10 dec. 1948, col. 7SS (Mayhew).
IS. McDowall (A.), « What future for Hong Kong ? » New Commonwealth, 19 sept. 1955, pp. 261-263.
19. Labour's colonial policy, 3. Smaller territories, London, Labour Party, juin 1957.
20. Un peu plus tard le secrétaire tory aux Colonies, J. Amery, prône lui aussi le pragmatisme dans les rapports avec les petits territoires sans mentionner Hong-Kong. U.C., 17 avr. 1959, col. 1368.
21. Blood (Sir H.), The smaller territories, London, Conservatice Political Center
1958, pp. 8 et 14-16.

Aucune mention n'est faite de Hong-Kong dans une brochure de 1962 du Bow Group[22]. En revanche, A. Creech-Jones, l'ancien secrétaire aux Colonies du gouvernement travailliste, se félicite, dans un débat portant sur les petits territoires, de l'accord des deux partis politiques et de la convergence de leur politique coloniale ; il estime qu'il faudrait conclure un arrangement avec la Chine et l'O.N.U. lorsque le bail expirera[23], c'est-à-dire en 1997. De son côté, le travailliste Christopher Mayhew, partisan du dégagement et de l'abandon de la politique « à l'Est de Suez », pense qu'à la fin des années 1970 l'Angleterre sera encore présente à Hong-Kong[24]. Une étude récente n'envisage des difficultés qu'à l'expiration du bail de 99 ans lorsque, suivant l'auteur, la Chine réclamera même les territoires qui ont été définitivement cédés au XIXe siècle[25]. Le porte-parole du gouvernement travailliste n'envisage pour Hong-Kong ni indépendance ni autonomie interne, ni le rattachement à la Chine[26].

Cette volonté, cet espoir de se maintenir, par quoi sont-ils motivés ? Prenons d'abord le facteur stratégique qui couvre deux notions distinctes mais étroitement imbriquées : la valeur militaire du territoire, la volonté de le défendre. En 1945, les chefs militaires britanniques insistent sur la valeur stratégique de Hong-Kong[27], mais cette considération tend à perdre de son importance peu après. En revanche, Churchill déclare en 1948 que le territoire doit être défendu contre toute attaque [28]. Cette déclaration, qui vise un régime chinois en pleine dissolution, n'implique pas de conséquences bien graves. Mais jusqu'où ira-t-on dans d'autres circonstances et contre une autre Chine ? Aucune réponse ferme ne peut être donnée et l'on doit se contenter de fournir quelques repères pour s'orienter.
L'on sait qu'à partir de 1949 l'Angleterre adopte à l'égard de la Chine une attitude différente de celle des Etats-Unis. Pour les Britanniques, les rapports commerciaux avec la nouvelle Chine peuvent se développer grâce à l'expérience et aux compétences de leur pays et de leurs compatriotes. L'établissement et le développement de liens économiques feront, à terme, sentir leur effet sur le plan politique.

22. Imperial postscript, The smaller territories, London, Bow Group, 1962.
23. H.C., 17 avr. 1957, col. 1295 et 1297.
24. Mayhew (C), Britain's role to-morrow, London, Hutchinson, 1967, p. 181.
25. Wood (D.P.J.\ in : Benedict (B.) éd.. Problems of smaller territories, London,
University of London, Athlone Press, 1967, p. 31.
26. U.C., 8 nov. 1966, col. 1139-1141 (Lee). Cependant le 10 juillet 1967, aux Communes,
M. Herbert Bowden, au nom du gouvernement, refuse de céder aux pressions des
conservateurs et de déclarer que l'Angleterre restera à Hong-Kong jusqu'à l'expiration
du bail et qu'elle y maintiendra le statu quo.
27. Rose (S.), Britain and South East Asia, London, Chatto and Windus, 1962. p. 106.
28. H.C., 10 dec. 1948, col. 721.

L'Angleterre et les Etats-Unis ne sont pas d'accord non plus sur les conditions de création et la composition d'un organisme de sécurité régionale. Il est d'autant plus curieux de constater une tendance de la part de certains milieux britanniques à assurer la défense de Hong-Kong grâce au soutien américain. Un député conservateur pretend que l'Angleterre défendra Hong-Kong avec l'aide des Etats-Unis[29]. C'est aussi sur la défense et la puissance américaine qu'insiste un haut fonctionnaire [30]. Un expert bien connu estime qu'une attaque contre Hong-Kong déclencherait une guerre générale [31]. En 1949, M. Bevin déclare redouter que les communistes ne déclenchent une action violente à Hong-Kong [32]. M. Attlee, dans sa lettre au président Truman du 6 juillet 1950, inclut le territoire dans les zones au sujet desquelles les deux gouvernements devraient coordonner leur action et adopter une politique commune[33]. Un peu plus tard, A. Eden pense aussi protéger Hong-Kong avec l'aide des Américains[34]. Il convient de signaler dans ce sens une déclaration ambiguë de Dean Acheson, le 1er juin 1951, suivant laquelle le territoire constitue pour les Etats-Unis un poste d'observation très précieux et sa perte aurait des consequences sérieuses. Certains voient là une promesse d'aide en cas d'agression[35].
En réalité, les Etats-Unis considèrent que Hong-Kong est un problème britannique [36]. Le territoire est soustrait à la protection de l'O.T.A.S.E., ce qui s'explique notamment par la volonté de l'Angleterre de ne pas provoquer la Chine. Lors du grand débat sur la politique étrangère américaine, le rapport commandé par la commission des Affaires étrangères du Sénat ne mentionne même pas Hong-Kong[37]. M. Johnson, alors vice-président, pense aux possibilités de propagande ; le 15 mai 1961, s'arrêtant à Hong-Kong, il qualifie le territoire de « vitrine d'exposition en Asie du mode de vie libre » 38. Actuellement, en tout cas, il apparaît clairement que Washington n'a aucun désir d'ajouter de nouvelles obligations à celles qu'il assume déjà en Asie, ou de se substituer sur ce continent à l'Angleterre.

29. Teeling (W.), « What Hong Kong means to British prestige », The Commonwealth and Empire Review, juil. 1949, pp. 51-53.
30. Boyd (Sir D.), « China and Hong Kong », The Commonwealth and Empire Review, oct. 1950, pp. 36-40.
31. Kirby (E. S.), in : New Commonwealth, 15 fév. 1954, pp. 171 sqq.
32. Williams (F.), A Prime Minister remembers, London, Heinemann, 1961, p. 174.
33. Ibid., p. 231.
34. Eden (Sir A.), Full circle, London, Cassell, 1960, p. 93.
35. McDowall, op. cit.
36. Major problems of U.S. foreign policy 1951-52, Washington, Brookings Institution,
1951, p. 234.
37. U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. foreign policy, Asia, Studies prepared by Conlon Associates Ltd., Washington, 1959.
38. « Show-window of the free way of life in Asia », in : Royal Institute of International Affairs, Survey of international affairs 1961, London, Oxford University Press, p. 355.

A Londres, on se rend compte de plus en plus que Hong-Kong ne peut être défendu. Un eminent spécialiste britannique déclare : « Nous tenons Hong-Kong grâce à la bonne volonté de Mao. [39] » Christopher Mayhew affirme que les forces britanniques dans le territoire ont pour mission de maintenir l'ordre et d'opposer une résistance symbolique au cas où elles seraient attaquées[40]. A son avis, la presence anglaise dans le territoire se maintient en raison de la tolérance de la Chine qui trouvera probablement sur place suffisamment d'alliés sans être obligée de commettre une aggression[41]. Sur ce dernier point, l'ancien ministre s'est trompé ou n'a pas pris en considération les effets de la révolution culturelle.
D'ailleurs, l'effectif des forces britanniques à Hong-Kong est réduit. Il se monte, au cours de la dernière période, à 10 000 hommes, y compris le bataillon de Ghurkas et les forces locales[42]. Si en 1966, le coût total de la défense de Hong-Kong était, pour l'Angleterre, de 16 millions de livres, il n'atteindra plus que 12 millions en 1967. En revanche, la contribution du territoire ne cesse de s'accroître : de 1,5 million de livres en 1958, elle atteint 2,5 millions par an à partir de 1964 et 5 millions depuis 1967 [43].
Si le facteur stratégique a de la sorte perdu de son intérêt, il y en a d'autres qui gardent leur importance. Suivant certains, Hong-Kong constitue un centre d'où rayonnent sur la Chine et l'Asie la justice et la liberté [44]. Pour d'autres, les réalisations britanniques à Hong-Kong consolident et augmentent le prestige de la métropole en Asie [45]. Mais c'est avant tout sur le facteur économique que l'on insiste[46]. Sir A. Eden souligne l'intérêt que présente Hong-Kong pour l'Angleterre sur le plan commercial[47]. Divers experts s'accordent sur les avantages que le Royaume-Uni tire du commerce de Hong-Kong, et particulièrement du commerce d'entrepôt, ainsi que des investissements effectués dans le territoire, des banques qui y sont établies, des opérations d'assurance, des transports [48]. L'Angleterre exporte autant à Hong-Kong (en valeur) qu'elle en importe. Elle exporte des machines, des véhicules à moteur, des textiles. Elle importe surtout des textiles dont la quantité fait l'objet d'accords « volontaires » de Limitation[49]. A cela s'ajoutent les gains dérivant du commerce d'entrepôt et des investissements, qui ont été évalués, en 1955, de 250 à 350 millions de livres sterling[50]. Les banques anglaises, en particulier la plus ancienne et la plus puissante du territoire, la Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, traitent d'immenses affaires et font de considérables bénéfices, d'autant que, depuis 1947, elles manipulent les fonds et capitaux venus de Chine, de divers coins d'Asie (déposés en majoritépar les Chinois d'outre-mer), des Etats-Unis [51].

39. Howard (M.), « Britain's strategic problem East of Suez », International Affairs, avr. 1966, p. 183.
40. Mayhew, op. cit., p. 16. Dans le même sens, Luard, op. cit., pp. 74 sqq. ; The Observer, article d'A. Wilson, 15 oct., 1967.
41. Mayhew, op. cit., pp. 63-64 et 84.
42. H.C., 5 juil. 1967, col. 1881. Le général Sir Michael Carver, commandant en chef des troupes britanniques en Extrême-Orient, a declare le 18 juillet que des renforts de troupes étaient politiquement indésirables et militairement inutiles puisque, en cas de besoin, des renforts pouvaient être très rapidement acheminés de Singapour à Hong-Kong (The Times, 19 juil. 1965). On sait, par ailleurs, que, suivant les récentes décisions, la présence militaire anglaise à Singapour et en Malaysia doit être progressivement réduite et même liquidée. Certaines installations logistiques seront transférées de Singapour à Hong-Kong où les forces actuelles seront maintenues. The Times, 17 janv. 1968.
43. U.C., 26 janv. 1966, W.A. col. 69-70 ; 9 nov. 1966, W.A. 293 ; Statement on the Defence estimates 1967, London, H.M.S.O., 1967, pp. 7, 37 (Cmnd. 3203).
44. Boyd (Sir D.), art. cit.
45. Teeling (W.), art. cit.
46. Cf. par exemple, Notes et études documentaires 1919, 11 sept. 1954, p. 21.
47. Eden, op. cit., p. 364. Dans le même sens Collar (H.J.), in : International Affairs, oct. 1953, pp. 418-428.
48. Woodhouse (CM.), op. cit., p. 180, Un autre auteur constate l'importance des revenus qu'apporte le commerce de Hong-Kong pour l'intermédiaire qu'est le Royaume-Uni, revenus qu'il est cependant impossible d'évaluer statistiquement : Woolley (H.B.), Measuring transactions between world areas, New York, National Bureau of Economic Research ; London, Columbia University Press, 1966, pp. 38, 66. Voir aussi Kirby (E.S.), in : The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, sept. 1951, pp. 193-202 ; Olver (A.S.B.), in : World To-day, juin 1967, pp. 223-225 ; Black (Sir R.), « Hong Kong and its position in the Pacific », Royal Central Asian Journal, fév. 1966, pp. 16-22 (l'auteur est un ancien gouverneur de Hong-Kong).
49. H.C., 18 juil. 1967, W.A. col. 214-216 ; Hong Kong, Report for the year 1965, pp. 52, 301 sqq. ; Report for the year 1966, pp. 54-62.
50. McDowall, in : New Commonwealth, 19 sept. 1955, pp. 261-263.
51. Crick (W.F.), Commonwealth banking systems, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965,
pp. 174, 175-176, 181-182 ; Collis (M.), Wayfoong, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Londres, Faber, 1965, pp. 239 sqq. ; Tomkins (H.J.), Report on the Hong Kong banking system and recommendations for the replacement of the banking ordinance, Hong-Kong, Government Printer, 1962 ; Stewart (CO.), in : Asian Review, avr. 1962, pp. 128-131.

La possession de Hong-Kong présente encore un autre avantage pour l'Angleterre. Après 1955, le niveau des balances sterling coloniales détenues par Londres décline constamment à l'exception de Hong-Kong dont les balances ne cessent d'augmenter : de 132 millions de livres en 1955, à 183 millions en 1960, 280 millions en 1965 et 350 millions à la fin de 1967. Or, à la différence de ce qui se passe pour les balances appartenant aux étrangers ou aux pays indépendants du Commonwealth, celles appartenant à un territoire colonial comme Hong-Kong sont sinon bloquées, du moins investies à long terme à Londres et, en fait, le territoire n'est pas libre de les utilizer [52].

52. Cf. British Aid-5, Colonial development, London, Overseas Development Institute 1964, pp. 77-80. Nous devons le chiffre de 1965 à l'amabilité de M. D.J. Morgande, de l'Institute of Commonwealth Studies de Londres. Le chiffre de 1967 est tiré de l’Economist, 13 janv. 1968.

Il convient maintenant d'examiner quelques facteurs tenant à la structure interne de Hong-Kong. Le territoire, d'une superficie de 1031 km2, abrite près de quatre millions d'habitants. Plus d'un million de réfugiés sont entrés à Hong-Kong depuis que le nouveau régime est installé à Pékin. Depuis 1956, et contrairement aux traités en vigueur, les réfugiés ne sont plus admis que dans la mesure où leur nombre ne dépasse pas celui des départs [53]. Les Chinois représentent 98 % de la population. Plus de la moitié sont nés dans le territoire et sont donc citoyens britanniques. D'autre part, la moitié des habitants ont moins de seize ans. Ce dernier fait constitue à lui seul un des facteurs de l'agitation actuelle, d'autant que si de grands et remarquables efforts ont été faits dans le domaine du logement et de l'éducation, tous les enfants sont loin d'être scolarisés et l'éducation primaire n'est toujours pas gratuite [54].
La vie économique et sociale se caractérise par le paternalisme, le laissez-faire, l'absence de législation et de sécurité sociale.
Après le début de la guerre de Corée, des sanctions économiques sont décidées par les Nations unies contre la Chine, ce qui a pour effet de développer l'industrie locale. Sur une population active de 1 592 000 personnes, 635 000 sont employées dans l'industrie manufacturière [55]. Le développement industriel s'explique notamment par les bas salaires. Suivant un député travailliste, « les conditions de travail sont si inimaginables qu'elles sont en contradiction avec les principes grâce auxquels le gouvernement travailliste est arrivé au pouvoir » [56]. Il n'y a aucune disposition législative prescrivant le repos hebdomadaire ou limitant la durée du travail des hommes. Depuis 1959, des textes régissent la durée du travail des femmes et des jeunes de moins de dix-huit ans, qui est fixée à dix heures par jour et à soixante heures par semaine et, pour les jeunes de quatorze à seize ans, à huit heures par jour et quarante-huit heures par semaine. Le travail des enfants de moins de quatorze ans est interdit, mais cette interdiction n'est guère respectée : plus de 17 000 enfants quittent l'école chaque année à l'âge de douze ans [57].
Les syndicats sont fortement politisés et très faibles. Ils peuvent être divisés en trois groupes : les indépendants (assez peu influents), la Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions soutenant Pékin, et le Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Union Council, partisan de Tchang [58]. L'obligation pour tout syndicat de se faire enregistrer — et il ne s'agit pas d'une simple formalité — constitue peut-être, dans le contexte de Hong-Kong, une des raisons de la faiblesse syndicale.

53. Hu Yueh, in : Asian Survey, mars 1962, pp. 28-37. Une immigration clandestine s’effectuait par Macao. Elle a pris fin depuis les événements de décembre 1966.
54. Hong Kong, Report for the year 1966, pp. 15-16 ; aussi Report for the year 1965, p. 80.
55. Hong Kong, Report for the year 1966, p. 24.
56. H.C., 27 fév. 1967, col. 51-60 (James Johnson).
57. Cf. The Times, 27 déc. 1967.
58. Hong Kong, Report for the year 1965, p. 24. Suivant les uns, il y a 240 syndicats enregistrés ayant 146 933 membres. Hong Kong, Report for the year 1966, p. 34. D'autres mentionnent 308 syndicats avec 131 306 membres. Far Eastern Economie Review, 3 août 1967, p. 260.

Quoi qu'il en soit, dans certaines branches et entreprises les ouvriers prennent conscience de leurs problèmes. L'augmentation du prix des transports provoque des émeutes en avril 1966. L'agitation reprend en février 1967 et devient sérieuse en avril et mai, époque à laquelle éclatent plusieurs grèves. Un communiqué du Commonwealth Office du 16 mai 1967 reconnaît d'ailleurs que les troubles — origine de la crise — étaient dus « à un conflit industriel relativement mineur ». Il laisse entrevoir une amélioration des conditions de travail ainsi que l'établissement d'un mécanisme de conciliation entre salariés et employeurs. Le porte-parole du gouvernement déclare aux Communes que l'agitation a commencé dans une entreprise par une grève et des revendications économico-sociales et que cette agitation a été, à partir du 11 mai, exploitée par les organisations communistes. Des réformes sociales sont promises [59]. A la fin du mois d'octobre, un membre du gouvernement anglais, Lord Shepherd, en visite dans le territoire, a annoncé que la durée du travail des femmes et des jeunes gens serait, à partir du 1er décembre, progressivement réduite, pendant les quatre années à venir, de soixante à quarante-huit heures. D'autres mesures sont également envisagées.
Sur le plan politique, Hong-Kong est la seule colonie qui paraisse démentir la théorie et la pratique britanniques quant à l'évolution des territoires dépendants. En effet, on demeure frappé, lorsqu'on lit les rapports annuels de l'administration de Hong-Kong, par l'esprit de colonialisme classique qui s'en dégage. En réalité, le gouvernement de Hong-Kong demeure autocratique et préoccupé d'échapper à l'emprise et aux interventions de la métropole [60].
Les institutions restent grosso modo celles de 1843 [61]. Le gouverneur possède toutes les compétences executives. Il est assisté d'un Conseil exécutif qui a un rôle consultatif et comprend, outre le gouverneur, cinq membres fonctionnaires ex officio, un fonctionnaire choisi par le gouverneur et huit membres non officiels nommés par le gouverneur (actuellement cinq Chinois, deux Britanniques et un Portugais). Le Conseil législatif donne son avis et approuve les mesures législatives élaborées par le gouverneur ; il dispose de certaines compétences financières. Ce conseil, présidé par le gouverneur, comprend maintenant quatre fonctionnaires ex officio, huit fonctionnaires nommés (dont un Chinois) et treize membres non officiels nommés (dont neuf Chinois et un Indien).

59. B.C., 1er juin 1967, col. 266-274 ; aussi 20 juin 1967, col. 224-225 et l'intervention de H. Bowden du 10 juil. 1967.
60. Eastern World, sept.-oct. 1966, pp. 13-14 ; The Hindustan Times, 3 nov. 1967.
61. Cf. Endacott (G.B.), Government and people in Hong Kong 1841-1962, Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 1964.

Il existe un Conseil urbain de vingt-six membres dont dix sont élus ; sa compétence s'étend essentiellement à l'île de Hong-Kong et à Kowloon. L'effectif théorique de l'électorat est de 240 000 mais 26 000 personnes seulement se sont inscrites sur les listes électorales. Il est vrai que le Conseil urbain n'a aucun pouvoir et passe le plus clair de son temps à délivrer des licences aux marchands ambulants. Les Nouveaux territoires sont divisés en quatre districts administratifs dirigés par des fonctionnaires. Il y existe vingt-sept comités ruraux partiellement élus, mais ne jouant en réalité aucun rôle. Quant aux services administratifs de la colonie, 46,1 % seulement des postes des catégories qualifiées sont remplis par du personnel recruté sur place [62].
Le progrès politique dans les territoires dépendants anglais (comme dans les autres) ne s'effectue que sous la pression de la population locale. Or, les conditions à Hong-Kong sont tout à fait particulières. Suivant le professeur Kirby, évoquer l'autonomie politique au sujet du territoire serait aussi absurde que de le faire à propos d'une gare [63]. Cette remarque est moins pertinente depuis que la proportion des habitants nés à Hong-Kong dépasse 50 %. D'autres affirment que la population ne s'intéresse pas à la politique, qu'elle manifeste dans ce domaine une apathie totale [64]. Les événements récents viennent de donner un démenti à cette thèse. D'autres encore, et notamment le gouvernement britannique actuel, craignent d'ouvrir les vannes de la démocratie, estimant qu'une telle mesure conduirait à un affrontement entre les partisans de Pékin et ceux de Taïwan, ces derniers risquant éventuellement de l'emporter, ce qui rendrait impossible toute coexistence avec la Chine [65]. On peut se demander si ces appréhensions sont tout à fait justifiées. Sans doute, c'est par rapport à Pékin et à Taïwan que se déterminent jusqu'à présent les activistes du territoire. Mais les problèmes locaux jouent un rôle croissant et les syndicats communistes eux-mêmes commencent à s'intéresser davantage aux questions concrètes et pratiques. D'autre part, l'organe peut créer la function s'il est doté de pouvoirs appropriés.
Certains députés travaillistes ont proposé — assez vaguement — un élargissement de l'électorat et l'attribution de compétences plus étendues aux organismes délibérants. Mais le seul progrès que le gouvernement de Londres envisage actuellement se situe sur le plan municipal et urbain 66. Une commission a été nommée pour étudier des réformes. Elle a déposé son rapport en février 1967 et s'est contentée de faire des propositions plus que timides : la création de deux nouveaux conseils urbains, une très faible augmentation des compétences des conseils et du nombre des élus [67].

62. H.C., 27 fév. 1967, col. 51-60 ; 26 avr. 1967, col. 1784-1792 ; Hong Kong, Report for the year 1965, pp. 266 sqq. ; Report for the year 1966, pp. 269, 277.
63. Cité par Wilson, in : World To-day, sept. 1964, pp. 395-402.
64. Collins (Sir C), Public administration in Hong Kong, Londres, New York, Royal
Institute of International Affairs, 1952, pp. 72, 133, 178-181 ; Grantham (A.), op. cit., p. 112 ; U.C., 17 avr. 1959, col. 1286 (N. Pannell).
65. Joss (F.), « Harold Wilson is right about Hong Kong », Eastern World, janv.-fév.
1967, pp. 14-15.
66. H.C, 27 fév. 1967, col. 51-60 (J. Johnson) ; 26 avr. 1967, col. 1784-1792 (Rankin) ; Luard (E.), op. cit., pp. 238-239 ; T. Driberg, The Times, 27 déc. 1967. Suivant M. Denis Healey, parlant aux Communes le 21 septembre 1963, il faut trouver le moyen susceptible d'assurer que le gouvernement réponde aux besoins, pressions et aspirations de ceux qui ne disposent d'aucun mécanisme représentatif. Plus récemment, M. Luard a proposé un élargissement du corps électoral pour les élections au Conseil urbain et la designation de certains membres du Conseil législatif parmi ces élus. H.C, 8 nov. 1966, col. 1139-1141.
67. Cf. Survey of British and Commonwealth Affairs, 31 mars 1967, p. 336.

Quoi qu'il en soit, l'absence de canaux de communication entre les autorités et la population a créé une situation dangereuse qui explique, en partie, les événements actuels. On ne possède pas de données sûres quant à l'importance et la force des diverses tendances politiques. On sait que Taïwan et le Kuo Min Tang contrôlent l'activité de nombreuses organisations syndicales, civiques, officielles, chrétiennes, qui se trouvent d'ailleurs toujours plus sous l'influence des Etats-Unis lesquels entretiennent à Hong-Kong leur consulat le plus étoffé [68]. Pékin, nous l'avons vu, a lui aussi des organismes et des institutions sur place. D'après certaines informations, ses partisans seraient divisés en quatre groupes : celui du journal communiste Ta Koung Pao ; le groupe lié à Chou En-laï ; celui en rapport avec Tao Chou de Canton, actuellement en disgrâce, anciennement quatrième dans la hiérarchie du Parti ; le groupe des banquiers liés aux responsables de l'économie chinoise [69].
En tout cas, depuis mai 1967, et en raison de la non-intervention de la Chine, les divisions semblent s'être aggravées parmi les communists et les sympathisants de Pékin. Les syndicats partisans de Pékin ne paraissent pas avoir mobilisé des effectifs supérieurs à ceux de leurs membres. En lisant les traductions des articles du Renmin Ribao [70] de juin, juillet, août 1967, ainsi que les bulletins de la New China News Agency, on est frappé par la proportion élevée des élèves et étudiants parmi les manifestants de Hong-Kong.
L'actuelle crise est-elle due à l'initiative des responsables de Hong-Kong ou de Pékin ? Il est d'autant plus difficile de répondre à cette question que, comme nous venons de le montrer, il existe des divisions parmi les partisans de la Chine, que, dans ce dernier pays, la révolution culturelle a provoqué la fragmentation de l'autorité, et qu'en particulier à Canton et dans la province de Kouangtoung (dont les responsables étaient en contact le plus étroit avec Hong-Kong), la situation ne s'est pas encore clarifiée jusqu'à ce jour. On peut observer que les troubles commencent à Hong-Kong le 6 mai 1967 avec une grève et sont assez durement réprimés, que le 11 le mouvement revêt une ampleur nouvelle et que des revendications plus générales sont présentées. La note chinoise qui formule les demandes que nous savons, est du 15 mai, et c'est le jour suivant que se constitue le « Comité de tous les milieux de Hong-Kong et Kowloon de lutte contre la persécution », qui reprend exactement les demandes figurant dans la note chinoise. On peut aussi citer l'ultimatum chinois du 20 août pour faire état de la détermination de Pékin [71].

68. Cf. Joss (F.), Eastern World, juil.-août 1966, pp. 8-10. En revanche, la demande de l'U.R.S.S. tendant à établir un consulat à Hong-Kong a été rejetée sous le prétexte que son acceptation constituerait une provocation à l'égard de la Chine. The Times, 16 juin 1967.
69. China News Analysis, 2 juin 1967.
70. Traduction que nous avons consultée dans les publications régulières du consulat américain de Hong-Kong.
71. Cet ultimatum qui n'a eu d'autre effet que de déclencher des actes de violence contre la mission diplomatique britannique à Pékin, exigeait sous quarante-huit heures la libération des journalistes communistes arrêtés et l'annulation des mesures prises contre les journaux communistes.

En réalité, tel n'est pas le cas. Nous avons déjà montré que la Chine a toujours fait preuve d'une grande prudence et entendait nettement limiter sa mise. Le 24 juin, Chou En-laï déclare : « Le people chinois est décidé à donner, conformément aux exigences de la situation, tout le soutien jusqu'à la victoire finale, à nos compatriotes de Hong-Kong fidèles à la patrie. [72] » A partir d'un certain moment, la Chine paraît considérer avec quelque méfiance l'action qui se poursuit dans le territoire ; elle semble se rendre compte que la population n'y est pas encore mûre pour un changement. Aussi prêche-t-elle la nécessité de mobiliser plus largement les masses, de mieux les organiser [73]. Elle insiste sur l'unité : la classe ouvrière, les travailleurs doivent s'employer à unir tous les patriotes, même ceux qui ne peuvent pas se joindre à l'action dans l'immédiat, à moins qu'ils soient des traîtres [74].
Cela dit, il paraît probable qu'à un certain moment Pékin — comme les activistes de Hong-Kong — a sous-estimé la capacité et la volonté de résistance des Britanniques et surestimé la combativité des masses. Ils ont pensé sans doute que l'opération de Macao pourrait se répéter avec, peut-être, un peu plus de pression exercée par la Chine. Les revendications figurant dans la note chinoise du 15 mai ne font que reprendre celles qui avaient été présentées aux autorités de Macao et acceptées par celles-ci [75].

72. Current background (Hong Kong, U.S. Consulate), 9 août 1967. C'est nous qui soulignons.
73. Renmin Ribao, 16 juil. 1967.
74. Ibid., 5 juil. 1967. La New China News Agency déclare, le 15 juillet 1967, qu'à Hong-Kong la classe ouvrière constitue la force principale et qu'elle doit agir en union avec les paysans patriotes, les pêcheurs, les étudiants, les employés de bureau, les employés de magasin, les enseignants, les travailleurs du secteur culturel, les hommes d'affaires et les industriels patriotes.
75. On sait que les troubles ont commencé à Macao le 15 novembre 1966, lorsque des travailleurs en grève se sont heurtés à la police. La situation s'est rapidement tendue et la répression policière a causé sept morts. Au cours des négociations, les autorités de Canton et les responsables chinois de Macao demandent aux autorités portugaises, notamment, des excuses, le versement d'une indemnité aux familles des victimes, le licenciement et la punition des dirigeants militaires et de police responsables de la
répression, l'expulsion des agents nationalistes et l'interdiction de toute activité nationaliste, la remise aux autorités communistes des sept agents nationalistes emprisonnés depuis 1963 à Macao par les autorités portugaises. Ces dernières, après quelques hésitations, reconnaissent avoir commis un crime et acceptent les conditions des communists en signant à cet effet, le 29 janvier 1967, un accord à la Chambre de commerce chinoise de Macao, avec les responsables chinois locaux qui deviennent ainsi pratiquement maîtres de la cité.
76. Cet argument doit être employé avec une grande prudence. A Macao il y a 80 000 réfugiés (un cinquième de la population), mais on a pu constater qu'ils se sont montrés dans leur très grande majorité dévoués à Pékin. The Economist, 7 oct. 1967.

La crise de Hong-Kong est due fondamentalement à la survivance, sur un point du globe, des traités inégaux, d'un legs du XIXe siècle. Mais la date de la crise et son déroulement sont affectés par des facteurs touchant à la politique étrangère et à la stratégie de la Chine et de l'Angleterre, aux intérêts économiques de ces deux pays, au régime interne de la Chine et de Hong-Kong, à la structure politique, économique et sociale de la colonie.
Il se peut que Pékin et les activistes communistes de Hong-Kong aient nourri des espoirs quant à la possibilité d'aboutir à une solution semblable à celle qui est intervenue à Macao. Ces espoirs ont été déçus pour plusieurs raisons. Les Anglais avaient des intérêts plus considérables à défendre ; ils disposaient aussi de moyens plus étendus. La structure socio-économique de Hong-Kong, et notamment celle de l'emploi, est plus compliquée que celle de Macao. Dans les pays sous-développés, les ouvriers de l'industrie manufacturière, même lorsqu'ils prennent conscience de l'exploitation dont ils sont l'objet, sont encore dans une situation favorisée par rapport à certaines autres couches de la population active. Il convient aussi de rappeler que la proportion des réfugiés est plus importante à Hong-Kong qu'à Macao [76]. Le facteur temps a également joué : les grévistes, avec leurs ressources limitées, ne pouvaient pas tenir longtemps et les secours fournis par les Chinois riches, sympathisants de Pékin, tarissaient au fur et à mesure que la perspective d'une solution rapide du conflit s'éloignait. La durée de la crise ne pouvait pas manquer d'affecter défavorablement les intérêts économiques de la Chine, ceux de ses banques et de ses sympathisants installés à Hong-Kong. Le journal communiste de Hong-Kong, Ta Koung Pao, écrivait le 27 mai 1967 : « Lorsqu'il s'agit de questions importantes de principe, la Chine ne tient pas compte d'intérêts économiques éphémères et elle est prête au plus grand sacrifice. » Je n'ai trouvé aucune déclaration de cette nature dans les divers articles que la presse chinoise a consacrés au problème de Hong-Kong. Dans ce domaine et jusqu'à présent, la Chine semble avoir subordonné le facteur idéologique, politique au facteur économique. Le pays le plus radical adopte ainsi, pour le moment, une démarche exactement inverse de celle qui caractérise toute l'histoire de la décolonisation, au cours de laquelle le politique l'a constamment emporté sur l'économique. Mais peut-être les événements de 1967 confirment-ils simplement la prudence — qui contraste avec les paroles — de la politique étrangère de Pékin.
Dans l'affaire de Hong-Kong, la Chine a voulu se tenir constamment derrière les habitants du territoire. Cette attitude limitait l'enjeu du conflit mais en rendait la solution plus difficile. Les Anglais auraient été sans doute disposés à négocier directement avec le gouvernement de Pékin, mais ne pouvaient discuter avec les meneurs d'une action violente déclenchée dans le territoire. Eux qui se félicitaient d'avoir, jusqu'ici, réussi à « neutraliser » la vie politique à Hong-Kong, ont dû réagir de plus en plus énergiquement contre les organisations et la presse communistes [77], au point d'être approuvés par Taïwan. La Chine a fait apparaître l'importance des problèmes locaux. Peut-être un observateur indien a-t-il raison lorsqu'il estime qu'après cette crise Hong-Kong ne sera plus le même [78].

Décembre 1967.
G. F.

77. La sévérité de la répression est attestée non seulement par le député travailliste T. Driberg (The Times, 27 déc. 1967), mais aussi par une publication locale modérée : Far Eastern Economie Review, 15 juin 1967, pp. 637-638.
78. The Hindustan Times, 3 nov. 1967. Certains pensent que, sur le plan économique, Singapour est destiné à détrôner Hong-Kong. Il est de fait que la Chine y a récemment effectué des investissements et que les relations commerciales se développent. Mais il nous semble qu'au point de vue des institutions politiques, de l'économie, du régime financier et monétaire, des banques, des conditions de travail, Singapour ne peut pas présenter le même intérêt que Hong-Kong pour les milieux d'affaires et les capitaux privés.