HK does have a ‘foreign policy’ [China Daily]

In previous columns, I have used the Snowden case to illustrate specific elements of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.  Snowden’s case implies one large element of Hong Kong’s autonomy that is more subtle, yet widespread: the city’s surprisingly large capability for “foreign policy”.

American officials were asking the Hong Kong government to honor the extradition treaty it had signed with Washington; a treaty that involved only the United States and Hong Kong as signatories, not Beijing. Snowden was able to escape to Hong Kong because the city does not require a visa for American citizens: once again, the result of an agreement signed between Hong Kong and Washington. And, at an even more fundamental level, Hong Kong officials were engaged in direct talks with US officials over Snowden’s fate; central government officials were not involved visibly or directly. Throughout the entire saga, Hong Kong officials were, at the very least, involved in this global issue and seen to be calling the shots.

This is an excerpt from an opinion piece published in China Daily on January 20th, 2014. The full article can be accessed here.