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July 3, 2006
Hong Kong Wants Democracy

The return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 gave the communist regime control over one of the most productive areas of the Pacific Rim, a move that some rued as a step backwards for freedom in the region as well as an economic boost to an oppressive government. Six years later, the fires of freedom have not dimmed in the former British colony, although the world hardly notices it any more. The Times of London reports in a two-paragraph blurb that an annual freedom march drew more participants than authorites expected:

Pressure in Hong Kong for direct elections remains strong, newspapers said, after the annual democracy march drew a larger-than-expected turnout of at least 28,000. The fourth march marked the handover to China in 1997, under an agreement granting the territory Western-style freedoms. The marches began in 2003 after China tried to pass a national security law.

Other news agencies of lesser reach gave more resources to the event. AsiaNews, an Italian site focusing on events in that region, reported that the police estimated that less than 20,000 showed up, while organizers claimed over 50,000. The Chinese authorities tried to dilute the impact of the protests by holding a parade and festival in the city, which police claimed 40,000 attended.

The promise of "one country, two systems" that China adopted in 1997 as part of the agreement with the UK has not been fully kept. While China keeps Hong Kong open enough to ensure a free flow of outside capital, they have continued to block political reforms and the basic processes of self-government. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop of Hong Kong, added his voice to the calls for the autonomy promised by Beijing, telling followers that only through persistence will their goals be achieved.

Three years ago, media outlets from around the world covered these protests. Last year, the Washington Post still thought democracy important enough to cover it, albeit on page A17. Now the best we can get is two paragraphs in the Times of London, one of the more important media outlets for global news. It seems that freedom and liberty gets a low priority these days, a loss for all free peoples around the world.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 3, 2006 7:47 AM

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» Summer Repeats from Hard Starboard
Hmmm; growing pro-democracy protests in Red China that Beijing wants kept quiet. That sounds familiar, somehow.... There is one crucial difference: Seventeen years ago, the world may not have cared about Chinese democracy, but it was watching. If ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 4, 2006 2:02 AM


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