HONGKONGERS ARE FIGHTING TO KEEP WHAT THEY HAVE.

Author:Wolfe, Liz
 
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THE PROTESTS IN Hong Kong, which started in early June, were sparked by a bill that would have allowed China and Taiwan to extradite suspected criminals residing in Hong Kong. But the protests are about much more than that. The extradition bill was inspired by Chan Tong-kai, a 19-year-old accused of strangling his pregnant girlfriend to death in Taiwan and then fleeing. That such a deeply unsympathetic suspect launched a protest movement watched around the world illuminates the extent to which Hong Kong residents fear the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

Save for four years of occupation by Japan during World War II, Hong Kong was a British territory from 1841 to 1997. Its political culture is distinctly British, in that Hong Kong has clear due process rights, quasi-democratic representation, and a healthy respect for civil liberties. In 1997, when the U.K. gave the island back to China, it stipulated that Beijing needed to preserve Hong Kong's political culture under a "one country, two systems" model. The agreement says China must allow Hong Kong to maintain its system of semi-autonomy through 2047.

Privately operated newspapers in Hong Kong run scathing critiques of politicians without political reprisal. This does not happen in Shenzhen. While mainland China claims to have freedom of association and expression, it also has vague anti-subversion laws that let the authorities target dissidents. "The extradition bill would have blurred the line between...

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