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No lessons learnt: China mishandles HK dissent

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A million people out on the streets protesting against the government is a rare political phenomenon, especially so in an area controlled by China’s repressive Communist regime.

Not surprisingly, when so many citizens of Hong Kong first came out on to the streets earlier this month to protest against a key legislation that was about to be passed, the world sat up in alarm.

This is the second time in history that China has witnessed mass anti-government protests of this magnitude. The previous one was the infamous Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, attended by an estimated 1.5 million Chinese citizens.

The proximate cause of the present uprising, which continues in one form or the other till the date of writing, is a contentious bill that seeks to allow the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for judicial trials. Once passed, the bill would allow the Communist authorities to whisk away political opponents from Hong Kong and lock them up indefinitely.

At heart is the fear of a breakdown of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy that has allowed Hong Kong to exist as a semi-autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China. The understanding at the time of Hong Kong’s merger with China in 1997 was that the former British colony would be allowed to exist with its own democratic and liberal traditions and systems.

Hong Kong’s open judicial system based on British common law is widely considered to be independent, unlike the Communist Party-controlled courts in mainland China.

In mainland China, political opponents can be thrown into prison at the........

© Deccan Chronicle