ROME — “People are afraid Beijing wants to control the city and make Hong Kong like the cities of mainland China,” said Father Sergio Ticozzi, an Italian missionary in the East Asian metropolis. “The young generation especially don’t feel they have any future, will have no freedom, and so are very worried about the situation.”
A priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Father Ticozzi shared these concerns with the Register on June 9 as China’s ruling Communist Party looks set to impose a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, bypassing its own legislature.
The law, expected to come into force in August, is being seen not only as a major blow to the city’s freedoms that have been guaranteed since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, but also as a clear warning to the Vatican and other institutions dealing with China that Beijing cannot be trusted and is willing to renege on international agreements.
“We fear we’re at the end of the road,” said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong. “They’ve gone back on their promises, so now we’re becoming ‘one country, one system.’”
According to a 1984 Joint Declaration signed by China and the United Kingdom, Hong Kong was to be handed over to China in 1997, with the guarantee that it would have a high degree of autonomy for 50 years until 2047, governed by the principle of “one country, two systems.”