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  • This is me in the middle of crossing one of the weirdest borders I've ever crossed.

  • It's this one.

  • It divides China from China.

  • And it took me two hours to

  • get through.

  • This border is weird not only because it separates the same

  • country into two, but also because it has an expiration date: July 1st 2047.

  • Until then China has promised to stay out, to let

  • Hong Kong be highly autonomous.

  • Hence, the border.

  • But the government of China

  • doesn't really want to wait until 2047. They're ready to start erasing this

  • border now, making Hong Kong a proper part of China and one of the ways

  • they're doing that is this huge bridge.

  • Yeah, I know this isn't really the best

  • shot so here's a solution.

  • The drone doesn't even have a microphone, but even

  • still I couldn't help but say, "take a look at this bridge" as it was flying away.

  • But seriously, take a look at this bridge.

  • China has unveiled the world's

  • largest sea crossing bridge.

  • It's 55 kilometers, that's 34 miles, it's the

  • longest sea crossing in the world.

  • The bridge connects Hong Kong with Macau and

  • mainland China.

  • I always call this some sort of an umbilical cord between

  • Hong Kong and China.

  • That we want something physical for you to register

  • in your head that Hong Kong is part of China.

  • So this bridge and a bunch of other recent developments in Hong Kong are

  • bringing up a lot of questions of what is Hong Kong?

  • Who does it really belong to?

  • And what happens when you erase a border?

  • it's June 4th which is the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

  • There are hundreds of thousands of people here in Tiananmen Square.

  • In the history of

  • communist China there has never been anything like this.

  • On June 4th, 1989,

  • pro-democracy protesters were marching on Beijing's Tiananmen Square calling

  • for the end of a single-party rule in China.

  • They were then brutally massacred,

  • hundreds were killed.

  • "The troops have been firing indiscriminately."

  • Marking the end of any sort of widespread democracy

  • movement in China.

  • They've just turned off all the lights in this park.

  • Every year the residents of Hong Kong hold a vigil to commemorate the people killed

  • in that massacre.

  • This is something that's not allowed to mainland China, but

  • in recent years this vigil has become more personal to these people and that's

  • because they are feeling a new level of influence from China.

  • But wait. Isn't hong Kong

  • already a part of China?

  • Technically yes, Hong Kong belongs to China but you

  • sure wouldn't think so by looking at this border that I'm at right now.

  • Okay, I made it into China.

  • I mean technically I was already in China, but

  • now I'm like, really, in China.

  • So how did it get like this?

  • Britain and China fought a couple of wars over trade

  • in the 1800s and Britain eventually took over Hong Kong as a colony.

  • At the time

  • this was a mainly empty rocky, group of islands in southern China. Under British rule,

  • Hong Kong's population and economy exploded and even though Hong Kong's

  • population was mainly made up of immigrants from China, it became a very

  • different society than mainland China which was undergoing a communist

  • revolution.

  • One of the treaties that China and Britain signed said that Hong Kong

  • would be a British colony for 99 years, which meant that the agreement

  • would officially expire in 1997.

  • As that expiration date drew nearer, China and

  • Great Britain started to talk about what this is gonna look like.

  • Britain acknowledges that when the lease runs out in 1997 on most of the territory, the

  • whole of Hong Kong will revert to China.

  • Let's finish talking about this stuff up there.

  • If you go up to the 69th floor in this building in the Chinese border city

  • of Shenzhen, you'll find a life-size wax sculpture of this moment in the mid '80s

  • when the leaders from China and Great Britain sat around and negotiated the

  • terms of handing over Hong Kong to China.

  • And they came to this agreement that

  • Britain would give over Hong Kong peacefully to China, under the condition

  • that Hong Kong would be able to retain its way of life, legal system, their

  • economic system, freedom of speech freedom of press, freedom of association,

  • these are fundamental freedoms.

  • Freedom of religious worship, these are fundamental freedoms.

  • And they must continue.

  • China agreed.

  • They said they would let them be

  • independent and govern themselves for 50 years while they kind of adjusted to

  • Chinese rule.

  • 50 years beyond 1997. And so this was the agreement that they came to.

  • It was called the "One country, two systems" model and it was kind of unprecedented.

  • Okay, let's head back to Hong Kong see ya Margaret, see ya Deng.

  • So even after Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, this border that I'm now biking to

  • stuck around.

  • It remained exactly how it was and this border became highly

  • symbolic of the fact that

  • yes, this is China, but it was kind of its own country

  • at the same time.

  • Governed with its own values and its own system that is

  • different than China, that is in opposition to China in some ways.

  • Perhaps the most overt symbol of Chinese sovereignty is this army barracks behind

  • me. It's the Chinese army.

  • And so even though these soldiers can't leave the

  • barracks or do any sort of enforcement activities within Hong Kong, they're

  • still here in the central area of the city and they serve as a very powerful

  • symbol of the fact that this is Chinese territory, this is Chinese sovereignty.

  • But these soldiers won't be confined for much longer.

  • The borders around their barracks, as well as this border of north, are quickly

  • dissolving.

  • China has committed to respect Hong Kong's autonomy until 2047

  • and for the first decade after the handover, they respected that promise.

  • What you have to understand is that Hong Kong was easily China's most

  • economically productive city.

  • In the early

  • '90s right before the handover, this

  • one city's economy was more than a quarter of the size of China's entire

  • economy and so it makes sense why China would agree to these terms, to keep Hong

  • Kong happy and economically free.

  • But then things changed.

  • Look at the

  • explosive development of these Chinese cities in recent years.

  • These are China's

  • mega cities.

  • These cities eventually eclipsed Hong Kong as the economic

  • powerhouse of China.

  • Shenzhen, this town that shares the border with Hong Kong, is

  • a perfect example of this.

  • The place went from a small fishing village of around

  • 30,000 people to a super productive economic powerhouse of over 10 million

  • people in just a few decades.

  • Hong Kong went from making up 27% of Chinese GDP in the early '90s down to

  • just 3% today.

  • And suddenly Hong Kong, once the

  • economic powerhouse of China and the gateway to the West, became much less

  • economically relevant.

  • And soon the Chinese government didn't have the same

  • incentives to respect Hong Kong's autonomy.

  • So now you begin to see a flood

  • of Chinese influence in this city.

  • Let's go see if we can catch the 5 o'clock news.

  • In recent years the evening news broadcast has started with the national

  • anthem of China,

  • playing under a promo video that shows Hong Kongers

  • enthusiastically participating in traditional Chinese customs.

  • The message

  • is very clear: that Hong Kong is a part of China whether they like it or not.

  • On top of that, the language of the evening news is Mandarin, the official language

  • of China.

  • But in Hong Kong they don't speak Mandarin, they speak Cantonese.

  • Don't they say if you want to kill a city you kill its language first.

  • And we speak

  • Cantonese here.

  • They're actually some professors in Hong Kong and China

  • telling us that "Oh, Cantonese is actually not our mother tongue,

  • not Hong Kong's mother tongue."

  • Cantonese is actually just a dialect of Chinese.

  • The Chinese government tried to get teachers to use this text

  • book to teach Hong Kong children the basics about China, but looking into the

  • book you see that it's more of an advertisement for China's style of

  • government, than an introduction to it.

  • The Chinese system is the ideal type.

  • So multi-party rivalry will makes the people suffer, because about... all these

  • four points are about how bad the United States is.

  • Multi-party systems create

  • government shutdowns. They're basically pointing to that as the reason why a

  • multi-party system like that of the United States is deeply flawed and

  • really bad for the people.