Big Story 2019 #1 – Evolution of “One-Country, Two Systems.”

This year has seen severe testing of the One Country Two Systems (OCTS) principle in Hong Kong. While there have been demonstrations in the past (e.g. Umbrella Movement, 2014) there has been nothing on the scale of the protests in 2019 sparked by the government’s proposed extradition bill. And while the bill was later withdrawn, widespread and sustained protests have been ongoing for the second half of 2019.

Protests have been both peaceful and violent with clashes between demonstrators and Hong Kong police. Social unrest and widespread property damage have marked the protests, and some elements have targeted Beijing-affiliated businesses.

The real question raised by these protests is whether OCTS can survive and adapt. The former Portuguese territory of Macau is under OCTS and continues to function without major problems. For strategic reasons it would be to the benefit of Beijing for OCTS to work, as this would be the most painless way that Taiwan could be integrated back into greater China.

For a resolution of the Hong Kong question it seems that Hong Kong people must acknowledge that the former British territory is in fact part of China. For Beijing and its 70-year-old one party system, it might be time to re-think how the system can adapt to this new challenge. Historically China has always found a way to Sinicize peoples and systems and to make appropriate adjustments to new realities. Can Beijing do this with OCTS?

RG-21 will soon be publishing several reports on this topic. In the meantime, please feel free to give us your opinion on this very important matter.

Photo: Etan Liam via flickr