Hong Kong’s handover at 25 years

When the UK ceded Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, the city was one of the freest and most open in Asia. It is now a repressive police state. What went wrong?

For the first few years after the handover, Beijing performed, at least on the surface, reasonably well. When I left in 2002, I was cautiously optimistic about the persistence of the “one country, two systems” principle. Only in the past decade has it begun to become apparent that Beijing’s iron grip is tightening. After the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests demanding universal suffrage, freedoms began to visibly erode. The 2019 protests were met with shocking police brutality. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the imposition of the draconian national security law two years ago, which eradicated all remaining freedoms and jailed former lawmakers, journalists, trade unionists and activists of the civil society.


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