This week's blog is authored by Patrick Lew, a Hong Konger who migrated to Britain in 2021.
May 6th is a significant date in the United Kingdom. Union Jack flags can be seen all across the country, whether on the streets near Piccadilly Circus in London or outside household windows within rural communities. These sights all point to this year's most momentous event: King Charles III’s coronation.
For Hong Kongers in Britain, King Charles III’s coronation provides an opportunity to reconnect with the country that once reigned over Hong Kong during the colonial period as well as assimilate into the British community. Many themes and events surrounding the coronation have been discussed within the Hong Kong community, including coronation celebrations across local councils, personal anecdotes about King Charles III, and admiration of royal family members.
After Hong Kongers grieved for the late "boss lady" (事頭婆) during Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, King Charles III’s coronation will be a joyous occasion to be celebrated by Hong Kongers throughout the UK. Some Hong Kongers are marking the coronation by displaying the Dragon and Lion flag, which served as Hong Kong’s flag during the colonial era, within their local communities to highlight the historical relationship between Hong Kong and the UK. Hong Kongers’ delight towards Hong Kong’s prosperity and robust freedom during its late colonial era as well as their determination to integrate into British society is actively being reaffirmed.
It is therefore deeply upsetting for Hong Kongers to see that Han Zheng (韩正) has been invited to the coronation ceremony by Rishi Sunak’s administration. As the "architect of China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests" who enforced Xi Jinping’s (习近平) wishes to oppress the city’s democracy and freedom, Han Zheng and the members of the Chinese Communist Party will not be welcomed by Hong Kongers in Britain as they represent the demise of the international metropolis that every Hong Konger once called home. Han Zheng’s invitation contradicts the British government's claim that China is a systemic challenge to the UK, leaving some Hong Kongers to question whether Rishi Sunak’s promise to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy is merely lip service. It is Hong Kongers' hope that the British government will genuinely resolve to defend Hong Kong’s freedom against the eroding "one country, two systems” principle. It is thus utterly reprehensible that British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is attempting to justify Han Zheng’s invitation to Britain as “normal”.
Although it is unlikely that Han’s invitation will be revoked, James Cleverley has publicly stated that he expects to meet with Han Zheng and that he will raise the state of Hong Kong during their meeting. This presents an opportunity for the British government to demonstrate its loyalty to Hong Kongers who have sought refuge in the UK by demanding that China refrain from continuing to suppress Hong Kong and urging Hong Kong to uphold the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Let us hope that the British government will fulfil their promise to safeguard Hong Kongers who have escaped from the heavy hand of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong.