A phrase commonly used to describe Hong Kong’s unending state of impermanence. The region’s transient nature and intertwining history can be understood in two-folds — a colonial legacy that it has struggled to reconcile, and an authoritarian future that has been difficult to predict.
As Britain and China negotiated the conditions of the Handover, two promises were woven into the constitution in order to “ease the hearts” of Hong Kong people about the transition. The first assurance came under the “one country, two systems” principle, an arrangement that would honour the region’s unique way of life for fifty years to ensure a peaceful return to the motherland. The second agreement promised Hong Kong the “ultimate aim” of universal suffrage, which would allow Hong Kong people to fully govern their own region in the future.
Beyond the constitutional details, these two promises would hold a more symbolic meaning to a new generation of Hongkongers, and inspire a sense of hope that the region could someday dictate its own future. Throughout Hong Kong’s conflicting history, the region has never had the opportunity to experience democratic qualities such as self-determination, universal suffrage, or genuine democracy. Hong Kong’s fate has always been beholden to forces larger than itself.