Over the weekend, protests in Hong Kong have intensified to dangerous levels as riot police and protesters clash in the streets. The situation arises from a complex arrangement between Hong Kong and the Chinese central government, famously called, “one country, two systems.” In brief, Hong Kong is allowed much more autonomy than any other Chinese territory, part of the deal struck when Britain handed the city over to the Chinese government in 1997. That autonomy included a promise for Hong Kong to be able elect its chief executive in 2017 (currently decided by a pro-Beijing committee), a right that many in Hong Kong have come to identify as “universal suffrage.”
In August, Beijing announced that Hong Kong could still have its elections in 2017, but added the provision that the candidates must be accepted by the same pro-Beijing committee that currently decides the executive officer. Here is the source of the turmoil on the streets.
The significance of this event should weigh heavy on free citizens everywhere. China is on the world stage, and as tensions increase, the memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre grow ever larger on the global audience. Will the Beijing government yield to the people’s demands and honor the agreement made in good faith? Or will we see more police crackdown, more censorship and more oppression?
We stand in solidarity with the protesters in Hong Kong, whose “universal suffrage” aims are both inspiring and honorable. We hope that the Chinese government will suspend its fear of democracy eventually spreading beyond Hong Kong and onto the Chinese mainland, rather facilitating the transition to universal suffrage facing them now. And we hope that all our readers follow in earnest the developments in this story, as its result will forever alter the path of one of the world’s most powerful nations.