hong kong handover Anthony Wallace/Getty Images

One Country, One System

July 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the UK’s handover of Hong Kong to China, under a model called “one country, two systems.” But an unavoidable question will hang over the official commemorations: Is there really anything to celebrate?

STOCKHOLM – July 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the United Kingdom’s handover of Hong Kong to China, under a model called “one country, two systems.” But an unavoidable question will hang over the official commemorations: Is there really anything to celebrate?

If you had asked Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the “one country, two systems” model, what the handover’s 20th anniversary would look like, he might have said that Hong Kong’s residents would be toasting to their prosperity and liberty. China’s leaders, for their part, would be showcasing their credibility and governing capacity, finally quieting the chorus of naysayers who had doubted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the sincerity of its promises to Hong Kong.

But the reality is very different. Today, scenes that would have been unthinkable in Hong Kong in 1997 – mass anti-China demonstrations, the election of anti-CCP radicals to the city’s legislature, open calls for independence – have become routine.

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