“When Great Britain returned Hong Kong to China’s control in 1997, it was with the understanding that the territory would be governed under the principle of “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong would maintain a separate economic and political structure from mainland China until 2047. That includes Hong Kong’s tradition of common law, an independent judiciary, and protections for certain freedoms like speech.
The Chinese Communist Party has sought to erode the separation between the two systems. In the aftermath of the 2019 protests, it intensified its efforts to dismantle it entirely. Covid-19 restrictions quelled Hong Kong’s mass demonstrations, and in the summer of 2020, Beijing imposeda national security law targeting crimes, such as secession, subversion, colluding with foreign powers, and terrorism. It portended a dragnet on dissent in Hong Kong. This week, a 30-year-old man was sentenced to more than five years in prison for “inciting secession.” He yelled pro-Hong Kong independence slogans in public.”