Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 April 2022
Chapter Six looks at how the design and implementation of the Hong Kong version of “One Country, Two Systems” and its discontents. The Basic Law guarantees some fundamental rights and freedoms for Hong Kong’s residents. It promises eventual universal suffrage of the government. But an alliance of Beijing and the local business elite prevented it from specifying the exact form and timetable for universal suffrage. It also contains a clause about the necessity of anti-subversion legislation that threatens preexisting rights and freedoms. These contradictions and ambiguities of the Basic Law sowed the seeds of political conflicts after 1997. These conflicts, coupled with the rising monopoly of Chinese capital in Hong Kong, stimulated Beijing’s urge to forfeit indirect rule and move to a radical assimilationist politics and direct rule. Beijing’s urge has been articulated systematically by a group of official scholars who advocated Beijing’s statist absorption of Hong Kong as a rehearsal of China’s power projection farther abroad. Beijing’s premature crackdown on Hong Kong’s autonomy unleashed escalating resistance that culminated in the great clash of 2019.