Clash of Civilizations between the West and the East

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The British fought with China in the Opium Wars, during which they undermined the Chinese economy by addicting its citizens to opium and then attacked China when it refused to allow the British opium trade in its territory. During these wars, when China was defeated, the British took Hong Kong from China for 99 years and returned it to China in 1999, stating that it would gradually become a part of China’s land until 2045.

The Opium Wars still shape China’s view of the West

Hong Kong adopted Western ideas such as liberalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the media, and so on. during its 99-year association with the United Kingdom, making it incompatible with China.

China did not exert too much pressure on Hong Kong in the 1990s, since it was so industrialized and they relied on them, for its own GDP and successful economy, which allowed Hong Kong to enjoy its Western values and culture.

China’s  Aggresion: 

Over the past decade, China has become increasingly aggressive towards Hong Kong (HK). This is because China’s economy has grown and it is no longer as dependent on HK, so China has become more domineering. Chinese began making unfair laws toward HK, restricting their freedom, and Hongkong began to protest.


China’s autocratic regime attacked HK students during protests, crushing university students beneath tanks and killing them. In recent years, Chinese army personnel was stationed in HK, which greatly harmed the local population.

Keep the West Out!

The US made a declaration of Human Rights and stated that if China interfered in HK elections, the US would intervene, and China responded,

“Never again will we allow the West to intervene on our territory”

They blamed the West for influencing HK with permissive values and destroying its Eastern values. This was a clash of civilizations between the West and the East, and Western values posed a threat to the Chinese State.

However, no choice else,

China can not allow Hong Kong to keep its Western values because it would make the rest of China want them too, and if they gave Hong Kong independence they would look very weak. Therefore, China has begun influencing Hong Kong by making their education system teach them to support China and the one-party system, passing stricter laws against protests, and limiting their freedoms.

It is a typical East vs. West identity clash, where Western permissive norms have damaged Hong Kong and deliberately produced challenges for China, but whatever the cause, it demonstrates how Western identities have become a danger to Eastern states and their power.

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Nismah Naveed Bhatti
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