Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong yells as he is taken away by police Anthony Wallace/Getty Images

Keep Hong Kong Free

Hong Kong is a shining example of what Chinese men and women can achieve with the freedom that millions of others take for granted. Only if Hong Kong’s people are resolute in defending their freedom against Chinese government pressure can they hope to secure the "one country, two systems" they were promised.

HONG KONG – Visiting Hong Kong is a true pleasure. With its modern architecture towering around the busy harbor, that great and exciting city must rank among the world’s most enjoyable urban destinations. But Hong Kong is now under stress, as it finds itself at the center of a number of issues and challenges – including how best to balance economic and political freedom and how to engage with an increasingly assertive and ambitious China – that will define its prospects in the century ahead.

Fundamentally, Hong Kong’s prospects depend on the implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, conceived by Deng Xiaoping to serve as the basis for Hong Kong’s eventual return to China in 1997. The idea – which Milton Friedman thought amounted to an impossible balancing act – was that Hong Kong would keep its way of life, liberties, and laws. Its people were perfectly capable of running their city; they simply had to do so as a part of China.

One country, two systems brilliantly balanced the aspirations, anxieties, and difficulties posed by the change in sovereignty from Britain to China. For China, there was the smarting humiliation of having ceded its own territory to a colonial power during the Qing dynasty. Imperialists from all over the world gave China a hard time, behaving in a way that no one today would or should seek to justify. Forcing China to open up to the opium trade formed one of the most disreputable chapters in Britain’s imperial history.