March 10, 2016 | Commentary on Hong Kong, Democracy and Human Rights

The Hong Kong Countdown

As thousands of protestors flood downtown Hong Kong in opposition to Beijing’s efforts to control the political future of one of its two “Special Administrative Regions,” there is growing concern about how this situation will be resolved. From the perspective of the demonstrators in Hong Kong, the issue is straightforward. They wish to be able to exercise their own choice in selecting the next chief executive of the territory in 2017. To this end, not only do they demand the right of universal suffrage, i.e., to be able to cast a vote, but they also insist on their right to decide for whom they will cast that vote.

This is an important stipulation because the authorities in Beijing have a different view on the issue. From the perspective of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong is, first and foremost, a part of China. While the “Basic Law” governing the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese governance from the British called for a “one country, two systems” approach, Beijing emphasizes “one country,” rather than “two systems.” This point was reiterated in a white paper Chinese authorities issued on Hong Kong earlier this year, as well as a resolution from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. China, the white paper noted, is a “unitary state,” and therefore, “China’s central government has comprehensive jurisdiction over all local administrative regions, including the HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region].”

 - Dean Cheng is the senior research fellow for Chinese political and security affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

 - This piece originally appeared in War on the Rocks and can be viewed in full at http://warontherocks.com/2014/10/the-hong-kong-countdown/


About the Author

Dean Cheng Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center
Asian Studies Center

Originally appeared in War on the Rocks