Mar. 20, 2024 |

One country, one system. On March 19, Hong Kong’s legislature passed a sweeping national-security bill, giving authorities broad powers to clamp down on opposition to local governments and Beijing—including life imprisonment for treason and insurrection. Many expect the new law to have a chilling effect on activists, reporters, civil servants, and even entrepreneurs.

In July 2021, Minxin Pei examined the extent of mainland China’s control over Hong Kong, after a wave of arrests of pro-democracy activists and journalists. As Pei sees it, the Chinese Communist Party, though formally still respecting Hong Kong’s distinct “system,” was already then implementing its plan to absorb the enclave fully into the People’s Republic—making it essentially no different than any other big Chinese city.