On Hong Kong’s autonomy* and Uyghurs.
There is a lot of media attention lately on Hong Kong’s self-governance and its political destiny under the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) rule. If history is a good indicator of what is coming to Hong Kong’s foreseen future then the plight of other “autonomous” states already under China’s rule for the past seventy years or so is the good sign of what to expect next.
Chinese constitution designates several self-governing provinces such as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan), Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region and Inner (Southern) Mongolia. Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region was proclaimed by chairman Mao in 1955 with the vast promises of self-governance just short of its own authority in defence and external affairs. In theory, Uyghurs have all rights for self-governing and choosing its own leadership and future. However, the realities on the ground are not even remotely close to what was promised in all state declarations from the realities on the ground.
Uyghur region was subjugated into mass Chinese migration with the aim of diluting local Turkic-speaking Muslim population, in total forty-six times nuclear tests (the last known low-level explosion being undertaken in January 2020) were conducted in the region, forced assimilation be it in cultural, linguistic or ethnic terms was relentless since the “liberation” of Uyghur region back in 1949 – just to mention a few of grievances Uyghurs hold against China.
In 1951, Chinese population in “Xinjiang” (meaning New Territory in Chinese) consisted of a merely four percent, nowadays this figure hovers around forty or more. Uyghurs became a minority in their own land within the span of two generations. The concentrations camps where millions of ethnic Uyghurs are held-up are on the scale of mass arbitrary detentions not seen since Holocaust.
At the time of the “Great Game” in the year of 1876 Britain used its colonial HSBC’s (Hong Kong and Shanghai Business Company) financial lending to Manchu (another ethnicity which is now extinct) Qin Empire to sponsor the first military expedition into Uyghur homeland (no wonder why HSBC bank is not a particularly popular bank among Uyghur resortissants) . The reasoning behind this move was the fear of Russian expansion in the Central Asia and the lack of a sufficient manpower (British boots on the ground) of conquering this part of the world. Ironically, after 144 years history has made a complete circle and now Hong Kong is facing its own bleak future under the Red Imperial China.
Mass demonstrations which shook Hong Kong were largely in favor of preserving its real autonomy and some in the crowd were pointing out “today Uyghurs, Tibet – tomorrow Hong Kong”. Alas, it might be too late and too little for Hong Kong.
*** Webster English Dictionary puts the definition of an autonomy as 1: the quality or state of being self-governing especially : the right of self-government 2: self-directing freedom and especially moral independence 3. self-governing state.