Hong Kong resignations may end one country, two systems

Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong resigned en masse on Wednesday in protest against Beijing’s interference in the city’s legislature. The move marks a crescendo in tensions between Beijing-leaning authorities and their pro-democracy counterparts, who have been denouncing China’s stifling approach towards opposition and dissent.

Allen Carlson, associate professor of government and an expert in Chinese politics at Cornell University, says the developments in Hong Kong stand as a warning that China will be one of the first issues on Biden’s foreign policy agenda come January.

“Earlier this summer, China imposed a sweeping new national security measure on Hong Kong. The measure, intended to stifle dissent there, elicited wide-spread opposition in the city-state, and from much of the international community. It was feared that the bill signaled the end of the one country, two systems formula, and the Basic Law — the framework which has governed Hong Kong politics ever since the resumption of Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.

“Sadly, the last several months have proven such misgivings to be all too accurate.

“During this period, the pro-Beijing Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly silenced even the most tepid acts of opposition, and again and again done so with reference to the new law. And over the last several days the scope of the crackdown has expanded yet again.

“More specifically, Beijing passed new legislation that paved the way for the removal of pro-democracy representatives in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. In protest of this move, the remaining pro-democracy legislators in this body resigned en masse.

“This development stands as further confirmation of Beijing’s intentions regarding Hong Kong: to bring it to heel, to root out any voices that oppose such a development, and assert more direct control than ever before over the once autonomous city-state.

“It also underscores that China (and Hong Kong) will be among the most pressing issues facing President-elect Biden following his inauguration in January.”

For media inquiries, contact Linda Glaser, news & media relations manager, lbg37@cornell.edu, 607-255-8942

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