The Hindu. April 2, 2021.
China is keener on tightening its grip on Hong Kong than on widening democratic space
Hong Kong, China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR), has served as the mainland’s most important gateway to the world for the past 24 years. Since its handover from British rule in 1997, the SAR has defied expectations that it would lose its unique identity. Unlike the mainland, the unique “one country, two systems” model guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms, including a free press, the right to protest, and a rambunctious political scene with a noisy pro-democracy opposition. Perhaps, most importantly, for the hundreds of multinationals, it also enjoyed an independent judiciary, a stark contrast from the Communist Party-controlled courts across the border. This week, Beijing dealt a blow to many of those unique freedoms. On March 30, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), approved sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system that will reduce significantly the share of directly elected representatives in the SAR’s Legislative Council (LegCo). President Xi Jinping signed orders to promulgate amended annexes to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the constitution that has governed the SAR and ensured its autonomy, marking the biggest change since 1997.
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