Far too many people do not understand that even though Hong Kong is part of China it also has a high degree of civil liberties.
Part of the agreement that turned over Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997 included provisions that Hong Kong would maintain its political and economic freedoms. Only matters of defense and foreign affairs would be held by Beijing.
Simply put, what that means is that Hong Kong residents enjoy all the civil and economic liberties of the pre-hand over period. In fact, more civil liberties were added as part of the deal.
Hong Kong is the ONLY place in all of China that has a free and independent press. (Albeit with issues of self-censorship by some.) And it is the ONLY place in China that A.) acknowledges the June 4, 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square and B.) holds a memorial demonstration each year.
So I was disturbed to read a new analysis by Hong Kong journalist Frank Ching about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The implications of this erosion go beyond whether Wang Dan is allowed into Hong Kong or not. The corrosive effect of more kow-towing to Beijing affects freedom of expression and press as well.
Officially Hong Kong does not have to revert to the ways of Beijing until 2047. Everyone knew there would be some moving together by Beijing and Hong Kong as time passed. Unfortunately most of the movement since 1997 seems to be coming from Hong Kong and not for the better.
(Side note: I am always amazed at how little otherwise intelligent people know about the Hong Kong-China relationship. I still recall soon after I arrived in Hong Kong in 1999 I got a call from an editor in the States asking me to do a piece on “Doing journalism in a totalitarian society.” I told him I had to decline because I lived in Hong Kong and not mainland China. He did not understand the difference. At least he knew that Hong Kong was not in Japan or Ohio — as other Americans have said to me.)