Hong Kong's Reunion with China: The Global Dimensions

By Gerard A. Postiglione; James T. H. Tang | Go to book overview

3
Playing the International Card? The View from Australia, Canada, and the United States

Kim Richard Nossal

Given the delicacy and complexity of Hong Kong's return to the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, perhaps it is not surprising that a specialized language has emerged to frame the discourse of "Hong Kong becoming China." Some phrases in this lexicon may be completely unintelligible to a non-Chinese outsider, their etymology and meaning knowable only to the cognoscenti: "second stove," "two ups and two downs," "three-legged stool," "astronauts," "through train." 1 Some are words or phrases that might be superficially understandable but have a special (and often highly contested) coded meaning in the context of Hong Kong reversion to China in 1997: "a question left over from the past," "one country, two systems," "a high degree of autonomy," "convergence," "insurance policy," "stability and prosperity," "compatriots," "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong," "those who love the motherland," "an economic city rather than a political city," and, in the context of international relations, "internationalization" and "playing the international card."

In the normal discourse of international politics, "internationalization" is generally unproblematic when used in most contexts: internationalizing an issue merely means involving the international community--normally other government--in the resolution of that issue. In the context of Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, however, the political meaning of this term depends on who is

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