China planned to invade Hong Kong in 1982

#1
CHINA seriously considered invading Hong Kong in the middle of talks with Margaret Thatcher in 1982, a former top Chinese official has disclosed.

The Chinese were ready to resort to “requisition by force” if the negotiations had set off unrest in the colony, said Lu Ping, who later headed negotiations with Chris Patten, the last governor.

Thatcher said later that Deng Xiaoping, then China’s leader, told her directly: “I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon.”

She replied that China would lose everything if it did. “There is nothing I could do to stop you,” she said, “but the eyes of the world would now know what China is like.”

Full article here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1977594.ece

I wonder how Thatcher would have responded so soon after victory in the Falklands
 
#2
Realistically, how could she have responded except to express outrage and sever diplomatic ties? There's no way we could have taken on China, and it's surely not plausible that other countries would have backed us up had we wanted to take military action?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
mrj282 said:
CHINA seriously considered invading Hong Kong in the middle of talks with Margaret Thatcher in 1982, a former top Chinese official has disclosed.

The Chinese were ready to resort to “requisition by force” if the negotiations had set off unrest in the colony, said Lu Ping, who later headed negotiations with Chris Patten, the last governor.

Thatcher said later that Deng Xiaoping, then China’s leader, told her directly: “I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon.”

She replied that China would lose everything if it did. “There is nothing I could do to stop you,” she said, “but the eyes of the world would now know what China is like.”

Full article here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1977594.ece

I wonder how Thatcher would have responded so soon after victory in the Falklands
The day she got told that was also the day the Iron Lady nearly fell down the steps after the negotiations. It was clearly evident at the time that something had rattled the sh!t out of her. She went on to say that we were indeed pulling out of Hong Kong as negotiations had failed - I figured at the time that the Chinese had said to her "Give it back, or we'll take it".

It was nice to see the Asian crash a short time later - couldn't have been anything to do with payback, I'm sure.
 
#4
Mrs T had it right, there would have been absolutley nothing we could have done to stop them militarily, short of nuking Beijing.

There wasn't much world reaction when China marched into Tibet in the 50s, but it was an insignificant country with which the West didn't have much contact. By 1982 Hong Kong was a world financial centre and there would have been a reaction. At the very least Ronald Reagan (remember him) would have feared an increased threat to Taiwan, and the red devil having an increased influence in the region.

What the reaction would have been, I can't say, but I'm sure China wouldn't have enjoyed it. Reagan had a habit of dropping bombs on countries he didn't like.
 
#5
On the other hand, from the front page of today's South China Morning Post:

'The crisis of confidence in Beijing in the days after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, which brought a million Hong Kongers onto the streets, led influential figures in the central government to back a proposal to delay Hong Kong's handover and renew Britain's lease on the city, says a former official.'

Inscrutable...
 
#6
We could have made it pretty costly for them, and I don't doubt the locals would have joined in. HK is a pretty difficult nut to crack from their point of view and the People's Army was a shadow of its former self in '82. The Cultural Revolution had gutted it of its most experienced commanders in the same way Stalin's had the Red Army. As a result it'd taken a few dings to its pride and confidence from the Russians and then Vietnamese.

Having said that, as Stalin said, "quantity has a quality all of its own". They could have done it had they wanted to pay the price, since our nuclear option was off the table. Guess they didn't want a smoking ruin littered with corpses when they could get it handed back in the long run.
 
#7
To be fair, it was theirs, actually. It was ripped off them by a bunch of British smack dealers, if you read history.

And they wouldn't have even needed to have invaded, just turned off the water taps. Done deal.

I find it pretty amazing when people get upset on their stance on Taiwan - look at Britain's attitude to letting Northern Ireland go, or the Americans fighting their civil war. You can hardly blame the Chinese for doing the same.
 
#8
Codbutt, it's actually the REVERSE of the British in Northern Ireland as you ignore the principle of self-determination.

If you look at Gibraltar, the Falklands and Northern Ireland, in EACH of those cases the British government has allowed self-determination to guide its course and all three poppulations have elected to remain British.

The people of Taiwan want to be independent, have declared independence and, according to self-determination, should be allowed to be independent!!
 
#9
smartascarrots said:
We could have made it pretty costly for them, and I don't doubt the locals would have joined in. HK is a pretty difficult nut to crack from their point of view and the People's Army was a shadow of its former self in '82. The Cultural Revolution had gutted it of its most experienced commanders in the same way Stalin's had the Red Army. As a result it'd taken a few dings to its pride and confidence from the Russians and then Vietnamese.

Having said that, as Stalin said, "quantity has a quality all of its own". They could have done it had they wanted to pay the price, since our nuclear option was off the table. Guess they didn't want a smoking ruin littered with corpses when they could get it handed back in the long run.
Making it tough for them is not really an option if you know you will lose in the end. It was clear that the Chinese would not renew the lease on the New Territories and without them Hong Kong itself was not tennable, so the hand over was innevitable. Yes provoking China to invade would probably have done more damage to China than the UK but even back then China was becoming a source of low cost manufactured goods and Hong Kong was the conduit for this trade. So the UK did have a vested interest in this continuing both for Hong Kong and for business back home.

Yes it was the Opium wars that provided Hong Kong, but they were more about trade than Opium which just ahppenned to be the best trade at the time for Tea. Equally the priviledges gained then led the way to the big prize, obtaining the Tea bushes themselves, not just the processed leaf, and the resulting development of the Indian Tea business and the real money that generated
 
#10
codbutt, that's a very biased view you have there!

I think CarpeDiem sums it up nicely. Rather than look back over history and see who held what territory (and if you really think about it, how far back do you want to go? You have to draw the line somewhere, and territory is constantly shifting.), governments should always look to the populace and find out what they want.

Places like N.I., the Falklands etc. wish to remain British, and they will remain British until the majority no longer wish to.
 
#11
The New Territories would have returned to China any way in 1997, Hong Kong had been given to Britain in perpetuity. With out the New Territories Hong Kong would not been able to Survive, also with out the food imports from China the place would have been starved out. Now would it have worth while going to war to fight the unwinnable war
 
#12
Hong Kong was never democratically run by the British, that's for sure - except in the last five minutes when they were going to hand it back to its legitimage owners. They appointed the government. And fair enough, but a bit harsh then to criticise China for doing the same.

As for Taiwan, it was part of China, and always had been until 1949. Mao might have been a nasty guy, but the KMT weren't any nicer. The fact that China is not a democratic state doesn't mean they've got less right to the unity of their country than America or Britain.

As for what I said about Northern Ireland, I don't mean to say that Britains' stance on it is wrong - I think it's quite right actually - but the government has tried pretty consistently to maintain a union state (which I agree with) just as China, Russia and most others do.
 
#13
Codbutt - you do not have a great deal of understanding geopolitical [historical] matters, do you?!

Like Carpe correctly pointed out, we gave all three countries the right to self determination, the PRC does not want Taiwan to have independance. It would be (and already is) an enormous soci-economic power with a mass of trained spies ready to infiltrate mainland China to gain information for the west and its main ally the USA.

I can suggest some excellent literature and also visiting Jane's website and perhaps subscribing to some of their outstanding security related newsletters would give you a decent start before making an utter chimp of yourself next round.

Hi Carpe - haven't seen you in ages!

Me
 
B

benjaminw1

Guest
#14
codbutt said:
As for Taiwan, it was part of China, and always had been until 1949. Mao might have been a nasty guy, but the KMT weren't any nicer. The fact that China is not a democratic state doesn't mean they've got less right to the unity of their country than America or Britain.
Well that's a bucket of revisionist shoite!

Technically Taiwan "is" China, the mainland is just occupied by rebels against the Legitimate Chinese Government; currently residing in the island of Taiwan...

As for comparing Mao to the KMT, the biggest mass murderer of all human history to a corrupt third rate semi democratic bunch, again head out of fundimental orifice time I think.
 
#15
Whether the KMT were any nicer than Mao and his Revolutionary Guards is completely irrelevent. The people on Taiwan decided, for political rather than ethnic reasons I admit, that they wanted to be independent of the PRC. As such, international law requires that they be allowed to be so. The only reason that they don't have widespread diplomatic recognition is that the Chinese will withdraw diplomatic relations if you open an embassy in Taipai.

And on Ireland, the British government is maintaining the line given to them by the people of Northern Ireland. If you are suggesting China should give the same response, they should recognise Taiwan is no longer a part of the Chinese mainland.
 
#16
Taiwan is a different kettle of fish bacause of the relatively small number of indigenous people in its population (less that 2%, according to UK NARIC). The largest distinct ethnic groups are Hakka from Guangzhou and Shezu, Huizu, and Gaoshan most of whom emigrated from Fujian on the mainland in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

The descendants of the KMT supporters who fled there after the Civil War only comprise about 15% of the population but have still managed to control the political scene because of the extremely ruthless way they stamped out any resistance when they took over. Political parties which didn't conform to the prevailing thought were eliminated then banned, and unification parties still suffer from the attentions of the security forces, even where they have no ties to the mainland. Taiwan is only now beginning to come to terms with the mass arrests and executions of the post Civil War period.

I don't feel comfortable comparing popular sentiment in Taiwan to HK, where the major ethnic group is the indigenous one. At the risk of reigniting the NI comparison, Taiwan has a population of relative newcomers dominating the political scene at the expense of those they supplanted.
 
#17
Even as a 12 year-old, growing up and going to school in HK, we all knew that Maggie was being held over a barrel. We all knew that China would not give up their only diplomatic option to claw back the wealth that the democratic world had built for them. We also knew that there was an outside possibility that the whole negotiation process could go to rat-shit, and we would all be rounded up and deported, if we were lucky.

However, the eventual outcome was that HK would be handed back to China, but kept as a special economic zone (China had already built one just over the border in Schenzen anyway) for the next 50 years.

I can't exactly see them raizing the city to the ground in 2047 to make way for a communist rice paddy field.

Many of my school chums remained to live and work in HK after 1997 to present day. Very little actually changed. Postboxes were painted from red to purple. And the flag was changed.
Police uniforms stayed remarkably similar in all but badges.
Currency is still HK dollars.

Life goes on. There is still a wealth of British colonial history in abundance to be seen. China hasn't torn down statues or re-named everything to do with the last 200 years. Victoria Park still has a staue of Queen Vic. (actually, the sports facilities have been massively re-vamped since China took over).

We all knew that Maggie would not have the clout in any respect to get another 100 years or some-such. But in reminding the Chinese of the world-wide interest in the welfare of the economy of the territory, she did ensure that the people would be taken care of.
 
#19
Sorry- bad pic. I will try and get another one. I dont know why it has become blurred, as the attachment is fine.

HMS Tamar is now the home of PRC army, and the harbour part is now a car park. Most of Hong Kong is the same.
 
#20
Me an bee

I don't dispute for a moment that Britain gave Hong Kong a chance to elect a democratic government. Yes, it did, in the last 18 months of its 150 years of running the place. The rest of the time it was no more democratically run than most other colonies, really, although it was quite efficient.

Thanks for recommending Janes. I have an honours degree in Modern History.

And its spelt independence.
 

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