Could COVID-19 Lead to the End of Hong Kong’s Autonomy?

Could COVID-19 Lead to the End of Hong Kong’s Autonomy?
Former pro-democracy lawmaker Martin Lee, second right, leaves a police station in Hong Kong, April 18, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Hong Kong police arrested 15 prominent pro-democracy activists on charges of illegal assembly last weekend, the biggest crackdown on the territory’s protest movement since anti-government demonstrations erupted last year. Among the detained was 81-year-old Martin Lee, a major architect of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement who helped found the Democratic Party, the third-largest party in the Legislative Council.

Lee is often called the “Father of Democracy” in Hong Kong and helped draft the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Enacted in 1997 upon the territory’s handover to China from Great Britain, it bars the mainland Chinese government from interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs. But the Chinese government, aided by pro-Beijing authorities in Hong Kong, have taken aggressive steps in recent weeks to erode the city’s autonomy.

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