Washington Post on HK handover: “Unhappy Anniversary”

A WaPo editorial mulls over Hong Kong’s evolution since the handover seven years ago and concludes there’s good reason for HK’s citizens — and the Bush administration — to protest.

Beijing officials seek to balance their bad-cop tactics with a good-cop strategy of boosting the territory’s economy with aid. But Hong Kong is not, as sometimes caricatured, a city of businessmen who don’t care about politics. Many residents resent Beijing’s hard-line tactics. That much has been shown in the democrats’ big win in local district elections in November, along with rising voter registration levels in advance of September’s election. Hundreds of thousands are expected to demonstrate tomorrow in favor of democratization.

That such protests are permitted shows that Hong Kong remains freer in many ways than the rest of China. But if voter intimidation and ballot rigging mar September’s election, it will lead to serious questions about the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The Bush administration, which so far has made only mild statements encouraging Beijing to “be responsive” to the people of Hong Kong, ought to vigorously condemn the tactics of voter intimidation and make clear that U.S.-China relations will suffer if the democracy and autonomy of the territory are further eroded.

Don’t hold our breath.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

It’s not really a question of what happens during the election, it’s what happens after the election. The main problem is with the Judiciary in Hong KOng which seems to be acting unprecedently pro-Beijing.

June 30, 2004 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

Asia by Blog

It’s has been a busy few days in Asia’s blogosphere: Hong Kong has its big democracy march today. HK reporter has some thoughts on HK and democracy and Richard has excerpts from a WaPo editorial on the protest. He also notes, as expected, that China is…

June 30, 2004 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

According to the Guardian, some people think that the plebs are getting uppity and undermining Hong Kong’s sacred prosperity:

Corporate executives with close ties to Beijing have spoken out against today’s march. “The one thing business representatives do not want to see is the society bogged down in politics,” said Ronnie Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group. “This will destroy the cornerstone on which Hong Kong’s success was built.”

July 1, 2004 @ 3:15 am | Comment

Dave, of course the corporate elite is getting angry. They are the ones who truly benefit from obfuscation and rollbacks of rights.

July 1, 2004 @ 3:38 am | Comment

It was hot… very hot and sticky and hazy. And lots and lots of people. Watching the 7:30pm news, there were still people walking up the hill to the CGO buildings and had cleared Wan Chai only by about 7:15pm or so.

See Simon’s entry for a lot of the AP/Reuters photos. I’ll post some of my own up sometime today or tomorrow.

July 1, 2004 @ 6:54 am | Comment

The BUSH administration criticize Beijing over the handling of voting in Hong Kong?

Perhaps the irony is too much for even this administration.

I mean, what could they do, offer to send Katherine Harris as an election monitor?

July 2, 2004 @ 11:39 pm | Comment

Wonderful point, Shanghai. I’m sure you’ve heard that a group of Democrats has formally requested that the United Nations send observers to oversee the upcoming US elections!

July 3, 2004 @ 11:00 am | Comment

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