Hong Kong – world’s only case of ‘freedom without democracy’


When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule two decades ago, the city was seen as a model of what China might one day become: prosperous, modern, international, with the broad protections of the rule of law, The New York Times reports:

There was anxiety about how such a place could survive in authoritarian China. But even after Beijing began encroaching on this former British colony’s freedoms, its reputation as one of the best-managed cities in Asia endured. The pro-democracy camp’s biggest mistake may have been believing that President Xi Jinping, who at the time had been in office for almost two years, intended to guide China toward a more pluralistic future.

Martin Lee, the founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said that he harbored such hopes because he had met Mr. Xi’s father, a senior Communist leader considered more open-minded than most of Mao’s generals.

Hong Kong’s young generation has now seen 20 years of the older generation trying and failing to get Beijing to honor its promise of “two systems,” according to Lee, founding chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, and Joshua Wong, secretary general and co-founder of Demosisto, a political party in Hong Kong. They have more reason than their parents and grandparents not to trust Beijing’s promises, they write for The Washington Post.

Hong Kong has “the fruits of democracy without the tree,” says Lee (above), considered the father of the HK democracy movement.

Twenty years ago, China promised Hong Kong ‘1 country, 2 systems.’ So much for promises. Now Hong Kong remains the world’s only case of “freedom without democracy,” Victoria Tinbor Hui writes for The Washington Post.


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