Hong Kong should retain its democracy
Hong Kong is in an existential crisis once again. For nearly 20 years since its sovereignty was transferred from the British Empire to China in 1997, citizens of Hong Kong have existed under the idea of “one country, two systems.” Although Hong Kong is a part of China, it will retain its political and economic autonomy for 50 years. Hong Kong does, in fact, have a separate economy that operates under a capitalist model as opposed to the socialist one that the rest of China operates under. Hong Kong is also free to act as its own entity among various international government organizations. However, these days are limited.
In 2014, Beijing attempted to impose certain restrictions on the democratic elections in Hong Kong, which spurred countless movements of opposition. Since then, the situation has only gotten worse. Two elected officials were removed from their posts after the National People's Congress of the People’s Republic of China decided to offer their own interpretation of Hong Kong's Basic Law. In the wake of the United States' recent presidential election, the idea of a democratically elected official being removed from office purely for political reasons could stir more uneasiness. This same situation would have resulted in mass outrage if even one U.S senator was removed from office because he or she simply had different political ideologies.
The democratic peace theory is the idea that democracies are less likely to engage in armed military conflicts with other identified democracies. In relation to Hong Kong, it is imperative that its democracy remains intact and unadulterated. The political movements which have already begun must not stop until true reform occurs. Doing this will help foster better relations between the East and the West and, ultimately, encourage peace.
China needs to show benevolence and make possible realistic concessions, such as respecting the autonomy of Hong Kong and the sovereignty of its people. Tossing out the results of an election shows that there is much progress that needs to be made on both sides.
There are many scholars who call for Hong Kong's independence—a proposal that would reignite tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong while inflicting a grave future for the latter’s citizens. Instead, realistic solutions need to be brought to the table and be given serious consideration.
First and foremost, it would be necessary to indefinitely extend Hong Kong’s autonomy. By taking this preemptive stance, China will avoid an almost certain international embarrassment in the future while showing the international community that diplomacy can exist internally. Hong Kong also needs to find ways to show China that having its own political and economic systems does not make it an ideological threat and that the two can indeed exist together. The future of both Hong Kong and China are dependent on each other’s success. One only hopes that peaceful change is on the horizon.