What Happens to Hong Kong Now?

When Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in a 1997 transfer agreement that ended an era of British colonialism dating back to the Opium Wars, From China The main leader of the time, Deng Xiaoping, has ensured the Hong Kong lifestyle for at least 50 years.

Deng was the main architect of the Hong Kong policy known as "one country, two systems".

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The policy was the plan to preserve the prosperity and autonomy of a freewheeling capitalist enclave on the doorstep of the Chinese communist continent, which has become critical to financial and trade links with China's ambitious economic future. The policy also reinforced China's image as an increasingly responsible force in the world.

In a matter of years, however, China began to take measures that eroded freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong's 7.5 million people, and the measures led to pro-democracy demonstrations and suspicions regarding the intention of the Chinese Communist authorities in Beijing.

On Thursday, these officials announced the most comprehensive step yet, with proposed security laws that could effectively subvert Hong Kong's remaining freedoms and bring it under full control of China.

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Here are some basic questions and answers about China's action and possible repercussions:

Chinese officials in Beijing said that the National People's Congress, the Chinese Legislature, would review a plan to establish new laws and an enforcement mechanism to protect national security in Hong Kong. The announcement did not provide details, but signaled that the new legislation would allow China's central government more legal justification to respond directly to the major anti-Beijing protests that have harmed Hong Kong for much of last year.

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China has long implicitly claimed that it has the right to act in Hong Kong to protect national security, starting with the deployment of an army garrison in the territory that replaced the departing British forces. Last year, China's military also made a point of driving maneuvers in neighboring Shenzhen during the protests, which democracy activists considered a message. But the security laws enacted in Beijing that justify intervention in Hong Kong would be something new.

President Xi Jinping, the country's most authoritarian leader since the Mao era, saw Hong Kong's unrest with impatience and exasperation, viewing it as a direct challenge to the Communist Party's primacy and legitimacy. The Chinese government's propaganda, under the direct control of Xi, increasingly indicates that the challenge will be crushed.

A possible catalyst for China's announcement was the reluctance of the Hong Kong legislature itself to pass stricter security laws under a provision of the basic territory law known as Article 23 – fearing that such a move might incite even greater anti-Beijing protests. The legislation Beijing has proposed would allow Hong Kong's legal framework to be circumvented to deal with what is considered a security threat.

Another explanation for the moment is Hong Kong's successful struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which at its peak caused a blockade that effectively disrupted anti-Beijing protests in the territory. With the gradual return to an appearance of normality, these protests started to resume.

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The move would likely provoke anger from pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, which could lead to even bigger and more violent protests. But the action also sends the message that the expression of political dissent or freedom of expression in Hong Kong is now at greater risk than ever, threatening a press that has functioned widely without restrictions on political restrictions.

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Even if the new security laws do not necessarily lead to the closure of newspapers or broadcasters that offend Beijing, frightening effects such as self-censorship or reluctance to speak out may be likely. The free flow of information critical to Hong Kong's economic success may now also be at greater risk – a negative for many multinational companies that have made Hong Kong their home in Asia. Fear of Chinese political repression in Hong Kong could cause an exodus from its expatriate community – not to mention Hong Kong residents with the means to move elsewhere.

President Trump said on Thursday that the United States would respond strongly to any attempt by Chinese officials to impose a crackdown on Hong Kong. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China's threats to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong could cause the United States to re-evaluate the special treatment that the territory receives as an autonomous region under American law. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China answered that Pompeo was blatantly interfering in China's internal affairs.

More broadly, a Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong could exacerbate a credibility problem for the Beijing authorities, already defending allegations of negligence and cover-up in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan in the end last year. .

Nearby Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand, already see China's increasing attempts to exercise your influence in the region with suspicion. And Taiwan, the autonomous island that Beijing considers part of China, is likely to see a crackdown in Hong Kong as further validation of its view that the “one country, two systems” model is a failure and a new reason for not getting involved. . Chinese communist authorities on the continent.

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