The Roots of Beijing’s Hard Line on Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protests

The Roots of Beijing’s Hard Line on Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protests
Protesters in Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2014 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong last week on the anniversary of its handover to China, and more than 500 were arrested. In an email interview, Simon Young, a law professor at Hong Kong University, placed the protests in the context of Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland.

WPR: How has Hong Kong's status within China developed since the end of British rule in 1997?

Simon Young: Hong Kong’s status within China, known as “one country, two systems,” grew out of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration framework and is formally defined in the Basic Law, which serves as Hong Kong’s constitution. The Basic Law guarantees a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong and aimed to preserve Hong Kong’s existing way of life under British rule, including its capitalist system. However, the Basic Law conferred significant powers on China, and in many areas the division of power was unclear. What mattered was how the Basic Law was implemented in practice.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.