Chinese officials announced Tuesday that Hong Kong is not designated with “full autonomy” and must submit to the control of Beijing.
The notice comes less than a week after over 100,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to remember the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. The gatherers protested for democratic freedoms and individual rights. Chinese law states that any mention of the initial Tiananmen Square protests is a punishable offense.
In a 14,500 word “white paper,” the Chinese government claimed “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, a former British colony that eventually would align itself with China in 1997. The paper reminded Hong Kong that they do not possess “full autonomy.” The document was largely seen as a warning to the pro-democratic protesters, whose sentiments have been openly expressed in the aftermath of the Tiananmen anniversary.
Alan Leong, a leader of Hong Kong’s pro-freedom Civic Party, said he was “taken aback” when he got word of the paper’s message. “It is a sea-change to our understanding of what one country, two systems should be,” said Leong.
“This is probably the beginning of a campaign to exert pressure on Hong Kong’s people to accept China’s denial of the democratic electoral system that they demand. The basic message is that Beijing is in control,” said Joseph Cheng, a professor at University of Hong Kong. He continued, saying the document was “certainly a kind of warning to the pro-democracy movement that they should not be under any illusions that they can demand democracy.” Cheng feared for the future, “more and more interventions (are coming from) Beijing” along with “the erosion of core values and the lifestyle that we cherish,” he said.
“This document very clearly lays out a clear legal basis for the central government to step in and take action if they deem it necessary. “I think we just got read the riot act. If you don’t disperse what happens next is your fault,” said Matthew DeGolyer of Hong Kong Baptist University.