mandag 28. juni 2021

Crossing the Red Line: Behind China’s Takeover of Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s march toward an authoritarian future began with a single phrase in a dry policy paper. Beijing, the document declared, would wield “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the territory. The paper, published in June 2014, signaled the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s determination to tame political defiance in the former British colony, which had kept its own laws and freedoms. But the words were dismissed by many as intimidating swagger that the city’s robust legal system and democratic opposition could face down.

Hong Kong now knows Mr. Xi’s ambitions with a stunned clarity. The paper marked the opening of a contest for control in the city, culminating in the sweeping national security law that few saw coming. Since that law took force one year ago, Beijing has unleashed a stampede of actions to bring Hong Kong into political lock step with the Chinese Communist Party: arresting activists, seizing assets, firing government workers, detaining newspaper editorsand rewriting school curriculums.

While the clampdown seemed to arrive with startling speed, it was the culmination of yearslong efforts in Beijing. Interviews with insiders and advisers, as well as speeches, policy papers and state-funded studies, reveal Chinese officials’ growing alarm over protests in Hong Kong; their impatience with wavering among the city’s pro-Beijing ruling elite; and their growing conviction that Hong Kong had become a haven for Western-backed subversion.