From Penn Today:
July 1 marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover after 156 years of British colonial rule. The global financial hub returned to China in 1997 with promises of freedoms and autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle of governance.
Critics say China has backed away from those promises in recent years as it expanded its influence and control, particularly after it instituted a sweeping national security law in response to pro-democracy protests.
Penn Today spoke to Jacques deLisle, director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China and Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law and professor of political science, to get his take on where Hong Kong stands now and what the future might hold.
Q: China promised wide-ranging freedoms and autonomy when it regained control of Hong Kong. Has China kept those promises?
The 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule is a bleak moment. The initial deal struck between the United Kingdom and China for Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule included promises that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in its government, economy, and society for at least 50 years. We’re halfway through that 50 years, and many of those promises are not being fulfilled. We’ve seen, most dramatically, the adoption of the national security law two years ago, which came in the wake of the protests against a Hong Kong bill that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland. The law had provided a mechanism for shutting down, including through prosecution and imprisonment, anyone in Hong Kong who is actively critical of the government.
Under the new law, there have been scores of arrests, and some convictions, of people in academia and media, as well as pro-democracy activists. This has had a far-reaching chilling effect… .