A number of campaigners in Hong Kong are demanding a return to British rule as part of a transition to full-blown independence.
On June 22 activists founded the party, the cumbersomely named Alliance to Resume British Sovereignty over Hong Kong and Independence, with the hope of canvassing support to their cause. They claim that it will be easier to gain independence from the UK than China, The Telegraph reports.
“Independence is the ultimate goal, to return to British rule is just a transitional phase,” Billy Chiu, the Alliance’s leader told AFP.
Fears have been rising in Hong Kong over the past few years as residents of the territory worry that freedoms that were promised prior to the handover in 1997 are being withdrawn.
While independence was generally a goal only pursued by those at the political fringes, the idea has recently gained more mainstream acceptance. The explosive revelation that Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee was abducted by mainland authorities has done little to reassure those distrustful of Beijing.
Lam was one of five Causeway Bay booksellers who disappeared in late 2015. Four of the booksellers have returned from the mainland after being released on bail, while a fifth remains in detention.
Senior politicians in the city, however, believe that independence is unlikely to be granted to Hong Kong, not least because of the resistance which Beijing would mount to such an idea.
Anson Chan, Hong Kong’s most senior civil servant during the handover in 1997, said: “This is not supported by the vast majority of Hong Kong people who accept that independence is neither a desirable or realistic aspiration.”
While in high spirits, Billy Chiu and his supporters have picked a very inconvenient time if they are looking to enter any kind of dialogue with the UK following the country’s recent decision to leave the EU.
It is unimaginable that any of Britain’s foreign policy experts will have time to look beyond Europe in the coming years, nor would they be willing to sacrifice the “golden era” of relations between the two countries as they frantically try to pursue trade agreements with developing economies.