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Hong Kong and the Huguenots

by Enochadmin

Ben Jones

Because the lengthy shadow of China’s Nationwide Safety Regulation fell over Hong Kong in June 2020 the ‘one nation, two programs’ seemed to be useless within the water. First formulated by Deng Xiaoping in his negotiations with Margaret Thatcher’s authorities within the lead as much as the December 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, this pragmatic precept underpinned the Hong Kong Primary Regulation. It assured that the previous British colony could be allowed to benefit from the train of its frequent legislation authorized system and legislative preparations, human rights and democratic expression as a Particular Administrative Area (SAR) for 50 years after the formal handover of the territory on 1 July 1997. 

The imposition of the Nationwide Safety Regulation represented a watershed for China’s place on the earth. It put an finish to Hong Kong’s particular commerce and tariff standing with the US, undermined the way forward for 1,300 US corporations with operations and workplaces in Hong Kong and raised fears for a lot of worldwide companies. For quite a lot of causes each the US and Europe are actually ‘re-shoring’ their manufacturing or transferring it to locations like Vietnam and Indonesia, concurrently the US Federal Reserve is shopping for again Chinese language-owned Treasury bonds. And, whereas China could have achieved traditionally unparalleled ranges of financial development after 1979, it’s nearly to enter a interval of traditionally unparalleled inhabitants decline. China’s ‘one baby’ coverage ensured that it might ultimately face an financial practice wreck. The nation has not too long ago moved right into a stage the place the working age inhabitants is declining and the ageing inhabitants is quickly growing. Chinese language girls are bearing a mean of 1.3 kids (Beijing believes it wants that to be at the very least 1.8 to take care of acceptable ranges of development), on a par with international locations with vital falling populations, like Japan or Italy, which have a a lot increased degree of improvement. China’s official figures recommend one third of the inhabitants will probably be aged and in want of assist by 2050. 



How does Hong Kong match into this image? One of many island-city’s main belongings is its educated, revolutionary and financially savvy inhabitants. Britain, as the previous colonial energy, has granted 350,000 Hong Kongers, who had been born earlier than the 1997 handover, British Nationwide Abroad (BNO) passports. These give holders the rights to computerized six-month customer visas. An estimated three million extra Hong Kong residents and their dependents, or simply beneath half Hong Kong’s present 7.5 million individuals, may apply for such passports. The UK authorities has introduced that these will carry considerably enlarged rights, specifically depart to stay and work within the UK for as much as 5 years with the fitting to use for citizenship on the finish of that interval (after an additional 12 month settled standing interval), which means that there’s now a six-year pathway to full UK citizenship. 

This adjustments the image for BNO passport holders in Hong Kong. Within the first two months of the scheme the UK Dwelling Workplace acquired 34,200 BNO visa functions, of which 7,200 had been granted. It’s estimated that by 2025 between 300,000 and one million Hong Kongers will transfer to the UK, bringing with them $74 billion in capital belongings. An exodus has already begun. In February 2022 71,000 foreigners are reported to have left Hong Kong, presumably motivated not solely by the breakdown of the ‘one nation, two programs’ settlement, but in addition by the its strict Covid insurance policies. 



Half a century in the past Britain’s determination to confess 27,000 Ugandan Asians by its Uganda Resettlement Board, following President Idi Amin’s 1972 expulsion of three quarters of the 80,000-strong Ugandan Asian group, additionally introduced the UK substantial advantages. Refugees from that interval and their kids have gone on to make their mark on British public life. One thinks right here of the present Dwelling Secretary, Priti Patel, the journalist-author, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the present Chair of Prudential Plc, Baroness Vadera and – though not of Asian descent however nonetheless a political refugee – the previous Archbishop of York John Sentamu. 

Wanting nonetheless additional again there may be an much more fascinating historic precedent that holds a mirror to present occasions in Hong Kong. Within the late Seventeenth century a daring and pragmatic experiment, equal to Deng Xiaoping’s ‘one nation, two programs’, was delivered to an finish by an absolutist state simply throughout the English Channel. This occasion, which occurred in October 1685, was the Revocation of the 1598 Edict of Nantes. The Edict had assured for practically a century the political rights and non secular liberties of the 800,000 French Calvinists (roughly 5 per cent of France’s inhabitants), generally known as Huguenots. It had been initiated by considered one of France’s biggest monarchs, Henry IV of Navarre, a Protestant who had transformed to Catholicism in an effort to unify France.


‘Whose realm, his faith’

King Henry’s ‘one nation, two programs’ initiative with regard to France’s Protestant and Catholic communities was groundbreaking. Because the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 the rulers of the German states had agreed to just accept the precept ‘cuius regio, eius religio’ (‘whose realm, his faith’). This meant that the inhabitants of a given state had been required to observe the faith of the ruler of that state, which thus turned the state faith. Those that couldn’t conform to their prince’s faith had been allowed to depart with their belongings and search refuge in a state extra congenial to their spiritual beliefs. 

Henry’s Edict of Nantes successfully ended the Wars of Faith by guaranteeing the bodily safety of French Protestants by way of the designation of navy strongholds (locations de sûreté Protestantes) secured by Protestant garrisons –Montauban, Nîmes, La Rochelle and Saumur – along with some 150 emergency forts (place de refuge), typically simply fortified manor homes, maintained on the Huguenots’ personal expense. The Edict additionally ensured that, when French Protestants travelled overseas, they might be assured safety from the Inquisition, a assure which Pope Clement VIII strongly protested: ‘This crucifies me!’ had been his supposed phrases.

Within the context of late Sixteenth- and early Seventeenth-century Europe, these had been daring measures certainly they usually met with fierce resistance from laborious line Catholics. Henry IV survived 14 makes an attempt on his life earlier than ultimately succumbing to an murderer’s dagger in 1610. After his dying, the late king was celebrated in French common literature within the music ‘Vive le Roi Henri’ (later the anthem for the French monarchy) and in Voltaire’s Henriade (1723), an epic poem written to honour his life by one of many biggest Enlightenment philosophers of the age. Henry was additionally considered one of solely two French monarchs (the opposite was Louis IX, the saintly Thirteenth-century ruler) whose physique was handled with respect when the French Revolutionaries desecrated the tombs of the French kings within the Basilica of Saint-Denis in northern Paris in 1793. 

When the ‘Solar King’, Louis XIV, abrogated Henry IV’s Edict within the identify of spiritual uniformity in 1685, he resorted to navy power – the so-called dragonnades, or compelled billeting of cavalrymen (dragoons) on Huguenot households – to stress the Protestant communities into both changing to Catholicism or going into exile: a mannequin we see echoed at this time in Xinjiang, the place native households are compelled to host Communist get together cadres. 


Mind drain

An estimated 200,000 migrants – a few quarter of the pre-1685 Huguenot inhabitants of France – had been compelled into exile. Some 60,000 of those ended up in Nice Britain (50,000 in England, 10,000 in Eire), the place their abilities in silk-weaving (the origin of the Spitalfields silk trade in London), banking, commerce, textile manufacture, the e-book commerce, the humanities, educating, navy service and the stage had been in excessive demand. An extra 60,000 settled within the Netherlands, the place their abilities had been equally appreciated. Certainly, 400 French Huguenot households with information of viticulture had been despatched by the Dutch East India Firm to South Africa to develop the native wine trade. The Indonesian freedom fighter and holy warfare chief Prince Diponegoro would later develop into a direct beneficiary of this experience, when high-quality Cape wines, like his favorite dessert wine from the Constantia winery within the Western Cape, started to be exported to Java within the late 18th century.

Inside 50 years of their arrival the Huguenots had develop into nearly completely assimilated into the British inhabitants and their presence was actively supported after the touchdown of the Protestant Dutch king, William of Orange, in England in 1688 and throughout the succession of wars and ideological battle with Catholic France that adopted. 


Britain’s achieve

France’s loss was Britain’s achieve. The arrival of extremely expert migrants who contributed on to the constructing of Britain’s industrial and industrial economic system within the 18th century helped the island nation to develop into, for a interval, the world’s main international buying and selling energy. 

In fact, early Twenty first-century Hong Kong isn’t like Seventeenth-century France and Hong Kongers are totally different from the Huguenots. However there are intriguing parallels that may assist us to know at this time’s scenario.


Peter Carey is Fellow Emeritus of Trinity School, Oxford and adjunct professor in Humanities on the College of Indonesia, Jakarta. Norman Ricklefs is an adjunct fellow at Macquarie College.

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