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Britain, the PRC, and Hong Kong..??

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    Posted: 20 May 2011 at 09:07

Hi everyone

 

....I would like to put the following question up for discussion

 

..After the communist victory in China in 1949, why didnt the CPG make any serious attempt to wrest control of Hong Kong from the British?

 

It seems extraordinary that given the PRCs massive military capacity, its political weight in international relations, Cold War rivalry, and the geographic position of the colony, that between 1949 and 1997, the CPG never offered an effective challenge against British rule, and never pursued a policy of returning Hong Kong to the government in Beijing. Viewed from afar, the Chinese effectively honoured the original ninety nine year lease until Hong Kong was returned finally in late 1990s.

Historical insight would be good, but any immediate instinctive thoughts would be just as welcome. The historical record is yet to reach a consensus on diplomatic and political relations between Britain and the People's Republic of China with regards to Hong Kong, so I would hope that there is plenty of room in this thread for anybody who wants to offer some broad thoughts or out of the box replies without the fear of personal attack or slap down criticism.

 

Also, having been around this forum for many years, I like to think that I have developed an intuitive approach to understanding what other members are saying in their posts without the need for over-pedantic nit-picking on the use of language and words, so unless something is completely, obviously, out of sorts, can we refrain from over-doing the dictionary wielding approach at the detriment of the threads original premise. Thanks in advance.

 

all the best  AoO

 
PS-while i am here, any suggestions how those annoying squiggle characters can be removed from text written up in Word then appear when pasted into the forum, drives me nuts.


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 20 May 2011 at 09:35


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2011 at 09:11
You asked;

"After the communist victory in China in 1949, why didn’t the CPG made any serious attempt to wrest control of Hong Kong from the British…?"

I reply, can you understand that the PRC also needed an "outlet?" They did not want to be totally isolated.

Thanks for this question!

I am sure others will have a lot of better responses than mine.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2011 at 09:27
Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

I reply, can you understand that the PRC also needed an "outlet?" They did not want to be totally isolated.

 
...Could you elaborate on what that 'outlet' might have been and how it would be useful for the CPG..? ...also, a sense of 'isolation' from the West, was in general, a central and sometimes crucial feature of Chinese Cold War foreign and ideological policy...except for minor instances, the PRC remained insular until the late 60's, early 1970's...
 
..all the best...AoO..


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2011 at 12:09
It was then and still resides as the outlet of almost all Chin. goods into the world market!

But, perhaps it is now shown in a differing manner?






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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2011 at 14:32
Utter nonsense and a claim that simply proves on just how disconnected some people are with respect to Chinese realities. Shanghai is the economic heart of modern China and it is the world's busiest container port, further the anomalous postion of Hong Kong as a "re-export" center hardly establishes it as the "the outlet for almost all Chin[ese] goods into the world market". Shanghai exports far more than Hong Kong and when coupled with Shenzhen, the ratio is over 2:1 and these numbers increase drastically when the tonnage of Qingdao and Tianjin are added. If one wishes to be honest, then Hong Kong is merely the "front" for the port of Guangzhou and when its tonnage is removed from Hong Kong's numbers then you would realize that this latter is little more than a "service center" and not a true port at all!
 
And I would advise that you cease all of this tom-foolery with punctuation and scurrilous abbreviations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2011 at 14:50
As for the original question posed by AO perhaps this observation from Nancy Berkhopf Tucker might jump start a serious analysis:
 

In 1894-5, Japan waged a war against China that was unexpectedly and spectacularly successful, allowing Japan to take Taiwan and make it part of the Japanese empire. Hong Kong and Taiwan would thereafter remain in foreign hands well into the 20th century, creating both practical and philosophical problems for the Chinese. Even after the communist takeover of the mainland in 1949, these problems were not resolved. Hong Kong survived as a Western enclave dependent for water and food on China, but ruled as a colony from London. Hong Kong thrived economically, became a host to a multinational expatriate community, and gave the West a military base as well as a center for espionage on the Chinese mainland.

One might imagine that China would not have permitted this to continue as its power grew and it consolidated its control over the mainland. But in fact China had too much to gain from Hong Kong's being a British colony. In 1965 alone China earned $500 million in foreign exchange from trade carried on through Hong Kong. And so, even though others--for instance India--stood up against the imperialists and took back the colony of Goa that the Portuguese had planted along the Indian coast, and even though the USSR denounced the Chinese as cowards for not taking Hong Kong back, China bided its time, recognizing that having Hong Kong in British hands was better than allowing embarrassment or bitterness to dominate.

Finally, and only when the impending end of the 99-year lease threatened to undermine the colony's prosperity and political stability, serious negotiations were undertaken between China and Britain regarding the future. At that point the British, not appreciating the full significance of the nationalist symbolism of Hong Kong, naively believed the Chinese might be willing to leave Hong Kong in their hands, working out a deal whereby sovereignty returned to China but the people who really knew how to run Hong Kong would hang on to it. But the Chinese would have none of that. They insisted upon ending that relationship. China’s encounter with the West was in fact about to turn a sharp corner.

The 1984 Sino-British agreement decisively rolled back British control and severely minimized London's continued participation in the territory. China put into practice a policy that had been announced the previous year, in 1983, by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, a policy of "one country, two systems" intended to facilitate unification with Taiwan. The Chinese decided that in order to demonstrate the brilliance of the concept, they would put it into effect vis-a-vis Hong Kong. Once the fact that the concept worked so well had been established, they thought, it would facilitate the return to the mainland of Taiwan, as well. "One country, two systems" made Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region of China, ostensibly autonomous, leaving only Hong Kong’' foreign relations and defense policy in Chinese hands, while keeping all internal, economic affairs and such things under the control of Hong Kong authorities.

In reality, however, Beijing exercised a veto, stifling the progress Hong Kong had made toward democratic governance that had been launched by the British only a few years before the turnover of the colony, a little bit late but nevertheless put in place. Democracy has not been eliminated from Hong Kong, but it has been much delayed. The current expectation is that the first direct election of the chief executive might occur no sooner than 2017. Meanwhile, China has tolerated activities in Hong Kong not permitted in China. For instance, every year in June people in Hong Kong go out in the streets and demonstrate in commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre; they go out in the street to object when China tries to change the rules on, for instance, residence in the territory, and people are free to practice any religion they want. Falun Gong, which is not permitted on the mainland, is practiced in Hong Kong. So Hong Kong today struggles with its identity both as an international entrepot and as a Chinese city seeking to help shape China and not be swallowed up by it.

 
Here is the text of the original 1984 document:
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 21 May 2011 at 14:58
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2011 at 21:48
Thanks for the corrections Doctor! I was stuck in the 1970's and earlier.

Regards,


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 00:16
 
..Hi..
 
...perhaps at this stage, it would be useful not to get too bogged down in the Anglo-Chinese process of negotiations over the official return of Hong Kong to the government in Beijing in 1997...even the those who were involved  cannot agree on the details...
 
...However, the explanation offered by the example provided from Tucker does provide a general overview of the economic benefits that Hong Kong had to offer the Chinese, but i think John Garver provides a better analysis of the finer points regarding Chinese commercial arrangements with Hong Kong (Foreign Relations of the People's Republic of China, New Jersey, 1993)......
 
... it was true that HK did provide the Chinese with a route for manufactured goods to other markets in the world, which in the context of Cold War rivalries and alliances, allowed the Chinese to effectively employ Western trading practices to export goods...
 
'Repackaging in Hong Kong allows Chinese goods to enter crowded third country markets such as the US textile market, under Hong Kong labels and quotas. Transhipment via Hong Kong also allows China to draw on the marketing expertise and experience of Hong Kongs astute businessmen.' (Garver, p.232)
 
...but in general, over the past sixty years or so, it is probably fair to say that Hong Kong was perhaps not the major trading outlet for Chinese commerce... 
 
...However,  the island hub was employed as a means to bypass aspects of the  COCOM embargo which allowed China to import sensitive items that would otherwise be barred in country-to-country trade but could be accessed through the conduit that was Hong Kong.....and Beijing need foreign currency to purchase such goods, at least until COCOM restrictions began to soften 'officially' in the late 1970's and early 1980's...(in practice, since the formation of COCOM the British proved themselves masters of circumventing restrictions in order to trade with China..!!)....although Tucker recognises foreign currency aquisition as a factor, Garver emphasises the point in detail...
 

'The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong is the PRCs single largest source of foreign currency. The PRC derives foreign currency from Hong Kong in several ways. First, it sells large amounts of foods and miscellaneous manufactured goods to Hong Kong for freely convertible Hong Kong dollars. A large part of the foodstuffs, household commodities, electricity and even water consumed by Hong Kongs inhabitants came from the PRC.' (Garver, p.231)

 

...the access to foreign currency took on even greater importance in the post-Mao modernisation programmes instigated primarily by Deng Xiaoping...in general, the CPG still refused to adopt Western style banking and trading practice in their dealings with Western countries, however, hard currency gained through Hong Kong enabled the Chinese to purchase many of the items needed for the modernisation of the PRC's industrial, agricultural, and  military infrastructure... 

 

..In 1978, Percy Cradock, the British Ambassador in Beijing had this to say in a despatch to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London which explains in short, one of the mutual benefits shared by London and Beijing...

 
'A China engaged in modernisation will require for a very long time ahead a peaceful environment and will be particularly disposed to be cooperative over Hong Kong at a time when Hong Kongs relations with Peking will be critical.' (PREM 16/1535, telegram to FCO on Sino/British relations, 31 July 1978, The National Archives, Kew London).
 
..Also, according to Cradock, in 1979, Deng told Sir Murray MacLehose, the Governor of Hong Kong, that 'China needed Hong Kong, and a flexible policy...helped socialist reconstruction.' (Cradock, Experiences of China, p.166.)
 
...China's process of modernisation has a direct link to Hong Kong and therefore, may provide one explanation why Beijing was reluctant to tackle the sovereignty of Hong Kong through the use of political pressure and military threats...the PLA menace was always implicit, but the PRC chose instead not to hinder or obstruct what was for them a valuable source of financial gain to be used to strengthen domestic policy.... 
 
...all the best...AoO...


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 22 May 2011 at 00:20


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I fnd it somehow interesting that the idea that two countries could simply honour their obligations to one another is not even considered. Maybe both Britain and China recognised that a reputaton for keeping their word wouldn't do them any harm.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 03:33
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

I fnd it somehow interesting that the idea that two countries could simply honour their obligations to one another is not even considered. Maybe both Britain and China recognised that a reputaton for keeping their word wouldn't do them any harm.
 
 

    That was partly one of my original points which i too find interesting, and I agree with you Graham that despite the obvious conflicts of ideological and political interests, Britain and the PRC appeared to accept the arrangement and saw out the terms of the lease without the need for serious conflict.....in 1978, Huang Hua, the Chinese Foreign Minister, told Jim Callaghan in a meeting at Downing Street, that the Chinese government held no anxiety over the issue of Hong Kong, and it remained a matter "left over by history which should be resolved in due course through negotiations." (PREM 16/1534, Record of Callaghan-Huang Hua meeting, 11 October 1978, The National Archives, Kew, London)

 
   I do think however, that it comes down to a difference of perception on both sides. I think that the issue of Hong Kong was down to distinctions in how London and Beijing perceived the colonys status. While the British believed that they had a legal right and responsibility towards Hong Kong, the Chinese had always believed that HK had never been anything other than part of the Chinese mainland.
 
   The CPG did not recognise the authority of the nineteenth century treaties that had given Britain control, believing them to be unjust and illegal. Thus, PRC policy towards Hong Kong was not so much a policy rooted in the recovery of a territory from a conquering colonial power, but a plan of integration into the existing Peoples Republic, and as Graham points out, the interesting fact is that Chinese were prepared to wait and keep their part of the arrangement until the late 1990s-so to the British, who were anxious not employ policies that would serve to upset the agreed balance.
 
   The British appeared to recognise the CPGs position on Hong Kong and in the 1970s never referred to Hong Kong, in public, as a "colony," and knew that the return of Hong Kong was always a case of not if but when. For sure it was discussed in Whitehall circles over the possibility of retaining HK past the 1997 deadline, but such ideas were never taken seriously enough to pursued as sanctioned policy. The British attitude was perhaps "it was worth a try" but ultimately unrealistic!! In the meantime, Hong Kong was too much of a benefit to Beijing for the Chinese (and British) government to upset the situation and both were prepared to wait until the time was right for Hong Kong to be re-integrated (officially) back under the governance of the CPG.
 
According to Edward Heath, the British Prime Minister who supervised the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1972-"In effect, China agreed not to challenge Britains authority in Hong Kong and, in return, we would take no action in Hong Kong which would jeopardise Chinas interests." (The Course of My Life, 1998, p.643)
 
and finally, Chinese interest in the United Kingdom was not simply about Hong Kong and trade either. Following the Sino-Soviet split, British authority in Hong Kong took on an added dimension in international relations and the Chinese view of Soviet foreign policy. The Chinese began to view an advantage in having an anti-Soviet Western presence in Hong Kong, allied to the belief that a strong Europe would help to counter what the Chinese perceived as a Soviet march towards Cold War hegemony-Heath again- "The years of detente in the 1970s helped create a new, informal Anglo-Chinese understanding, based on mutual self-interest." (The Course of My Life, 1998, p.643) 
 
Anyway, enough for now, thanks for your input Graham, AoO
 


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 22 May 2011 at 03:52


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 05:18
It is a bit facile to presuppose that the "status" of Hong Kong was left to float haplessly for nearly half-a-century (just as it is rather illusory to accept the memoirs of Heath as reflection of his "wisdom") given the fact that the first non-communist nation to recognize the People's Republic of China as the legal government was the UK, and did so on 6 January 1950, and that it was the Chinese government that refused an exchange of ambassadors then and held off from official contact--and then only at the charge-d'affaires level--until 1954. To the Chinese there were no formal diplomatic ties until 1972, when a full exchange of ambassadors was put in place. The creation of this "limbo" certainly answered Chinese exigencies without endangering the fundamental position of the Beijing with respect to the "unequeal treaties" doctrine. Further throughout this period the Chinese made no secret that unlike their British counterparts they did not consider Hong Kong a whole and made no bones about the titular Chinese sovereignty over Kowloon. I suspect that here, AO is presupposing that the Chinese interpreed Hong Kong in a British "sense", something their diplomacy never did. After all in the 1970s, the Portuguese wanted to "return" Macau to the Chinese body politic and were actually rebuffed, not once but twice (1967, 1974)!
 
Consequently, far more care should be given to the Chinese perspective than that of the UK (after all Heath himself believed that the Chinese were incapable of operating Hong Kong successfully and would continue to maintain the status quo under UK supervision far into the foreseable future). Keep in mind, when the Chinese speak of matters being left to the resolution of History, their meaning is distinctly different from our "understanding" of the phrase that makes light of determinism. Therein we must observe that the history of the trading ports comes to a close in much the same manner as they began: the Portuguese were the first to arrive and the last to go!


Edited by drgonzaga - 22 May 2011 at 10:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 06:51
It seems that my hat is off to AoO! Maybe I was more correct than is thought?

Well what is the worst that could happen?

I forgot, today is supposed to be a big day in disappearing acts. Who knows one of our posters could (In just an instant) just disap

Edited by opuslola - 22 May 2011 at 06:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 07:11
Hello Doc,
 
Thank you for your post, but I do have to take issue with some of your comments.
 
There is no presupposition on my part for a start. The status of Hong Kong was not left to "float haplessly." As I stated earlier, the British and the Chinese both had their own ideas about the 'status' and each position was grounded in official foreign policy tenets. They differed from each other but both London and Beijing accepted these differences without the need to challenge seriously one anothers viewpoint, at least behind the scenes. In the context of Cold War ideological differences, and for the purposes of stable domestic policy, or bad press in the case of the British Governments, neither Britain nor the PRC could openly express their governments tacit agreement not to upset the status quo regarding Hong Kong; this was not exactly an 'unwritten' agreement, but when exploring the documents available, it somehow feels like it to me. So no, I have not interpreted Chinese views on Hong Kong in a 'British sense.' 
 
Your point about apparent Chinese indifference towards the return of Macau is taken, but I suspect that this had to do more with the possibility of Beijing ideas on a 'two systems' policy towards Taiwan (and maybe Hong Kong as well) than any mistaken sense of 'understanding.' There is no need to make that mistake. The Chinese made their position quite clear on several occasions, most notably following the CPGs entry into the UN.
 
In 1972, Huang Hua, then Chinese Ambassador, addressed the assembly;
 
'The question of Hong Kong and Macau belong to the category of questions resulting from the series of unequal treaties which the imperialist imposed on China. Hong Kong and Macau are part of Chinese territory occupied by the British and Portuguese authorities. The settlement of the questions of Hong Kong and Macau is entirely within Chinas sovereign right and do not at all fall under the ordinary category of colonial territories. Consequently, they should not be included in the list of colonial territories covered by the declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and people. With regard to the questions of Hong Kong and Macau, the Chinese government has consistently held that they should be settled in an appropriate way when conditions are ripe.'
(Cited in James Tang and Frank Ching. The MacLehose-Youde Years: Balancing the Three-Legged Stool, 1971-86 in Ming K. Chan (ed) Precarious Balance-Hong Kong between China and Britain 1842-1992, 1994, p.153).
 
Concerning Heath, his sentiments on the issue of China are borne out by the documentary evidence in the archives. Heath was a bit of a 'Sinophile,' respected highly by the Chinese (for obvious reasons, namely his Governments decision to support the removal of Taiwan from its United Nations seat) and the recipient of two pandas in 1974!! Heath was responsible for removing the obstacles that had earlier prevented London and Beijing from establishing full diplomatic relations. His account of the process and the British Governments reasoning is there in the documents (almost plagiarised by Heath actually!!). My choice of quotes reflects the fact that Heath is a familiar figure to those interested in the development of Anglo-Chinese political relations in the twentieth century and quite frankly, trotting out a surplus of documentary references would be perhaps unnecessary (and very, very time-consuming on my part!!). Heath did not need to fabricate his feelings about this particular episode. Records of his meetings with Mao, Deng, and Huang Hua demonstrate the Chinese thought the same.
 
Yes indeed, efforts to establish formal diplomatic ties were rebuffed by the Chinese until the late 60s, early 70s, but post-Geneva 1954, apart from the period of the Cultural Revolution, British charge-daffaires could, and often did, function as diplomats with their Chinese counterparts. Personal friction, cultural and political differences, and bureaucratic obstacles, often conspired to make this a difficult task, but contact between London and Beijing still occurred whether there were Ambassadors or not.  It is a bit like the 'status' of Hong Kong, the official line was toed publicly, but nevertheless, both sides recognised the need to 'talk' with one another (ostensibly about Hong Kong and Anglo-Chinese trade) and did so through the British officials stationed in Beijing. So there was no 'limbo.' Going back to Grahams point about honouring arrangements once again, it seems, at least in diplomatic Cold War battlefields, the dragon and the lion preferred generally to deal with each other with claws retracted.
 
As for taking 'far more care' over the Chinese perspective, I believe that was pretty much the essence of the threads original premise?
 
Many thanks for your input.
 
All the best AoO
 
 


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 22 May 2011 at 07:19


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 10:42
I welcome an encounter into serious discussion, we've lost much of that recently, as a result of the antics pursued by the "usual suspects". My quibble here stems from the fact that somehow among some assumptions over the Chinese position in the 1950s and 60s depended upon "revolutionary intransigence" that was somehow transformed into a rationalism during the 1970s and moved from there along lines equivalent to little more than economic opportunism. I believe much more was involved and that Chinese attitudes towards Hong Kong moved to the rhythm of a Chinese clock rather than musings based on detente or the diplomatics maneuvers of a Heath or Nixon. After all, the objections raised by China itself with respect to the word "colony" fall within the Chinese sense of sovereignty something that would be abruptly challenged by the introduction of this vocabulary, which implies the sense of subordination, an idea totally anathema to Chinese intellectualism. here Mao and his successors were no different than Sun Yat-sen at the start of the 20th century. I would like this discussion to continue specially if it takes time to inquire about Chinese exigencies rather than antics over Cold War diplomacy or other rationalizations born in the West with respect to global communism. In a sense the true Nationalists were the formulators of the PRC and not the forces that fled to Taiwan in 1949.
 
Oh, if there is static on the thread pay no attention since Sinologists are still delving upon the matter and there are myriad sources from which to draw perspective so let us not be distrated by the inane antics of others and push on.
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 22 May 2011 at 15:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Act of Oblivion Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2011 at 13:43
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

I welcome an encounter into serious discussion, we've lost much of that recently
  
 
...I am not sure whether I would be too upset if I did not engage into a too serious discussion!! I like to think that informality is the way to go for me, as such an approach also serves as an excuse for presentational laziness on my part!!!Embarrassed
 
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

My quibble here stems from the fact that somehow the Chinese position in the 1950s and 60s was somehow altered in the 1970s and moved from there in terms equivalent to little more than economic opportunism. I believe much more was involved and that Chinese attitudes towards Hong Kong moved to the rhythm of a Chinese clock rather than musings based on detente or the diplomatics maneuvers of a Heath or Nixon. 
 
....It is a valid quibble, and yes, I think there was more involved in the gradual modification of Chinese attitudes to foreign policy, and no doubt, some of this change was instigated by a sense of Chinese historical "rhythm." However, you appear to suggest that this change was not brought about primarily by a Chinese reaction to a US led policy on rapprochement with the PRC? I am not quite so certain about this statement. While American policy towards China in the 1970s was pro-active, there was a definite positive reaction from Beijing. Historians still debate the depth of Chinese motivation in seeking actively an alignment with the United States, and there remains the possibility that Chinese actions involved some degree of manipulation of their American opposites in order to bring about rapprochement but without demonstrating an explicit Chinese desire for such a policy.
 
I am no expert on Chinese foreign policy during the period and a detailed knowledge of rapprochement is beyond my scope of research. However, I do know that in 1969, Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, received tentative signals from Mao on the matter of enhancing relations with the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, as you noted, even qualified historians still cannot reach a consensus on how the process of normalisation of US-PRC diplomatic relations was formulated and conducted, so I am not going to claim anything other than my own shortfalls in this particular area. 
 
....However, I do not think that there is that much more of serious substance behind alterations in Chinese thinking, other than the change in attitude from the 1950s and 1960s reflect in part a re-examination of  Chinese policy towards their Communist cohorts in the Soviet Union. In other words, the onset of the so-called Sino-Soviet split. (Yet another minefield of historical discovery and argument!)
 
As for detente, the Chinese saw no benefit to their interests in peaceful East-West engagement. To Beijing, Soviet involvement in such matters as arms control treaties and the like was just a ploy instigated by Moscow to undermine American military power and political authority, and as such, part of the Soviet Unions ploy to achieve global hegemony. Whether this perception of Soviet policy was right, wrong or a bit of both continues to be a subject for debate. However, the Chinese believed it to be so, (there is ample documentary evidence to support this, and freely available on the internet if one wishes to search for it!!) and as such, readjusted their foreign policy to take into account the threat of Soviet aggression, and that readjustment took account of the position of Hong Kong. As I stated earlier, Hong Kong took on more significance for the Chinese as Sino-Soviet tensions grew. An alignment with the US ran parallel with a major opening of the Chinese door to Western Europe, and the belief that a united Europe would act as a bulwark against the Soviet threat. According to the Chinese, war was inevitable, but they no longer thought that this conflict would be fought primarily between the USSR and the US. Beijing believed Europe was the major target and just one part of a creeping Soviet policy of domination.
 
As China moved towards the West, it was inevitable that diplomatic overtures and dialogue between China and Europe would increase, and Britain was just one country who saw advantage in extending a larger than usual diplomatic hand of friendship to Beijing, and it was not brushed aside Moreover, the political landscape changed in 1976 with the death of Mao and Zhou Enlai, and after a brief period of internal upheaval, a less radical foreign policy emerged with the emphasis on a plan of modernisation, which of course meant a need to seek the necessary equipment and expertise, much of which was to come from abroad. So this was not so much a case of economic opportunism, at least on the part of the Chinese, but an integral component of Chinese foreign policy, and  Britain was well positioned to take advantage of this opening to the West. The proposed sale of arms and British Harrier jump jet aircraft to China, and the possibility of an Anglo-Chinese defence relationship is pertinent to my earlier statements on Chinese foreign policy and the Soviet threat, but that is another story!!
 
Commercial advantage was always a major consideration in the conduct of British foreign policy for sure. However, during the James Callaghan Labour government of 1976-1979 (my own specific area of research), there does appear to be a genuine effort on the part of the British to develop cultural and educational ties and enhancement of Anglo-Chinese relations in general, and to some extent, it was a success.Thumbs Up
 
 ....The implicit arrangement over the position of Hong Kongs sovereignty took on a renewed significance at a time of great Chinese need for modernisation, and with Britain suffering from economic meltdown, the prospect of significant British commercial gain and Chinese equipment acquisition was too much to risk by coming to grief over the issue of Hong Kong. London and Beijing remained happy with the arrangements over HK and both saw no immediate need to settle the matter, both were prepared to wait while needs that were more urgent received attention. So, the development of Anglo-Chinese relations and changes in Chinese attitudes can in my opinion, be viewed as a result of the alternating whims and fancies of international relations during the Cold War.  I therefore cannot ignore what you describe as "antics over Cold War diplomacy or other rationalizations born in the West with respect to global communism." Nevertheless, I would glad to read your thoughts and ideas on what you meant exactly by changing Chinese rhythms. It is something I would like to explore further.....
 
All the best AoO
 
 
 
 


Edited by Act of Oblivion - 22 May 2011 at 13:51


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2011 at 08:11
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

I fnd it somehow interesting that the idea that two countries could simply honour their obligations to one another is not even considered. Maybe both Britain and China recognised that a reputaton for keeping their word wouldn't do them any harm.


I've always viewed the situation this way as well. The Chinese have actually been fairly consistent in this regard. We see Macao being returned on schedule, two years after the transfer of Hong Kong, and for all of Salazar's bluster it is doubtful the Portuguese of the late twentieth century could have mustered much international support had the PRC decided to follow in India's footsteps.

-Akolouthos


Edited by Akolouthos - 25 May 2011 at 08:13
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