There seems to be growing momentum by activists based in Hong Kong to seek independence from China, with the emergence of a new political party that seeks independence by a rather peculiar route — through re-colonisation by the UK.
The Alliance to Resume British Sovereignty over Hong Kong and Independence is clear in what it wants. It is not seeking for Hong Kong to become an independent state in one step but instead, it wants Hong Kong to become a British colony again before seeking independence from colonial rule.
Activist and one of the core leaders of the new party, Billy Chiu Hin-chung, told the South China Morning Post: "We do not recognise the Sino-British Joint Declaration. So, the only logical result that Hong Kong has to return to British rule. It will be transitional. And we shall aim, ultimately, at going independent."
Hong Kong was officially 'handed over' to China on 1 July 1997, which effectively ended British rule. Hong Kong was acquired through three separate treaties — the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, the Treaty of Beijing in 1860 and The Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory in 1898 which covered the Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
The Hong Kong Island and Kowloon territories were ceded to the UK in perpetuity. But the control of the New Territories was based on a 99-year lease which came to an end in 1997 while under the rule of then governor, Chris Patten.
Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984, China agreed to a One Country Two Systems principle whereby China's socialist system would not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In addition, Hong Kong will be allowed to continue with its capitalist system and its way of life will remain unchanged for 50 years.
Chiu said on Tuesday (22 June) that preparations were made to set up the party over six months. The party will be formally inaugurated on 26 June. The party is the second to be set up within the last three months, the first being the Hong Kong National Party which formed in late March, the newspaper also noted.
Chiu was quite clear that the new party has no ties with the National Party even though they share the common goal of seeking independence for Hong Kong. Chiu claims that the National Party was not seeking "genuine independence."
"The National Party claim they would recognise those outsiders who flee to Hong Kong [as Hong Kong nationals]," he said. Chiu was formerly with the League of Social Democrats and later founded the Hongkongers Come First in 2013.
He made headlines when a group of activists broke into the People's Liberation Army barracks in Admiralty in Hong Kong while waving a colonial-era Hong Kong flag. The group asked the Chinese army to "get out of Hong Kong." Chiu was handed to two weeks in jail for entering a closed area without a permit. The sentence was however suspended for 12 months.