Hong Kong and China: One Country, One Future?

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Xi Jinping will make his first visit to Hong Kong as president of China this week as the territory prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China. Xi, who has slowly but surely consolidated power around himself will visit as Hong Kong fears it is inexorably ceding its civil and political liberties to Beijing.

As Britain prepared to return Hong Kong to China after more than 150 years of colonial administration, it took steps to preserve Hong Kong’s democratic rights and a path to free elections. Known as the Basic Law, this document signed in 1990 by China and the UK guaranteed Beijing’s central authority, but also preserved property rights, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary for Hong Kong for a period of 50 years following the July 1, 1997, transfer. The arrangement also separated Hong Kong’s capitalist economy from mainland China’s socialist one. This “one country, two systems” approach served Beijing and Hong Kong well for a time.

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