Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Democracy deferred

This is not cool. If Hong Kong doesn't get real elections by 2008, then I'd argue it's Olympic-boycott-not-cool. China is reneging on another part of the 1984 treaty with Britain concerning the Hong Kong handover, cooking the frog by heating the pot slowly.
Hong Kong, which is much richer and more Westernized than the Chinese mainland, had been widely expected to become a local democracy - although under Beijing's oversight - by 2008. That is the earliest date permitted in the Basic Law, or miniconstitution, for free elections for all legislative seats and for the chief executive, the top official in the territory.

But after public demands for more democracy intensified in Hong Kong in the past few months, China asserted a prerogative to interpret two key clauses in the Basic Law that set out the process for introducing and implementing changes to the electoral system.

In the ruling issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress today, the central government decreed that it has the right to decide whether there is "a need" to introduce democratic changes.

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