Perhaps the word "liberalism" should have been substituted for "democracy" in the title? Some champions of the old (British-ruled) Hong Kong have celebrated it as a "liberal autocracy", i.e., a state where a non-democratic administration protected basic human rights. Some have argued that "liberal autocracy" is to be preferred to "illiberal democracy".
Fareed Zakaria: "U ...[text shortened]... ..] Hong Kong has precious little democracy to undo; what it has is a framework of rights and laws."
This thread's creator might ignorantly believe that democracy always thrived in
British colonial Hong Kong, and that all Chinese loved having a few white British
men rule over them because they recognized that the British were far superior.
To this day, the US media loves to present an absurdly idealized image of British colonial
rule in Hong Kong as a model (non-racist, of course) democracy from its inception.
Most white Americans of my acquaintance apparently like to believe that and also
that the British rightfully and peacefully acquired Hong Kong and any attempt by
China to regain sovereignty over it was sheer unprovoked Communist aggression.
That reminds me of officially approved textbooks (in the southern USA) teaching
children (including black children) that slavery was a benign institution and black
people were happy (except for ungrateful runways) to be slaves.
After the Second World War, Chiang Kai-shek asked the USA to support his claim
to have Hong Kong return immediately to China's sovereignty. The USA instead
supported the British Empire. But the USA did not support a British aim of detaching
Tibet from China and adding Tibet (as a protectorate) to the British Empire.
The USA approved of China's sovereignty (stated by Chiang Kai-shek) over Tibet.
My point (though most Westerners here are likely too stupid to grasp it) is that
Hong Kong and Tibet are issues of Chinese nationalism, not Communism.
British colonial rule in Hong Kong was not far removed from an apartheid state.
In Hong Kong, the British censored the media and harshly punished criticisms by Chinese.
Some of my relatives were force-fed British propaganda in Hong Kong schools,
which glorified the British Empire, including British imperialism upon China.
(As I recall, when one young student dared to suggest that the textbooks be revised,
the British promptly jailed him for sedition. ) Of course, the British did their utmost
to instill fear and loathing of the People's Republic of China among Hong Kong's people,
and, having complete control for so long, they succeeded to some extent.
Hong Kong's young protestors today have no memory of British colonial rule,
so they tend to compare the Hong Kong reality today ('warts-and-all' ) with the
British manufactured propaganda image of Hong Kong.
One of my relatives emerged from his experiences in Hong Kong with a lasting
loathing of the British, which led him to support Argentina in the Falklands / Malvinas War.
Sadly, he died shortly before Hong Kong returned to China's sovereignty.
I know that it would have been a happy day of celebration for him.
Teinosuke, if you believe that British colonial rule in Hong Kong was benign or fair,
you are swallowing what the British propaganda machine (including the BBC) has told you.
You have no experience of being a non-white person under British colonial rule.
A Chinese member of the Hong Kong civil service told me that he had quit in disgust
because he kept noticing much less qualified and capable white British expats
being paid and promoted more for doing the same work in the same department,
even though he did it much better. Would Teinosuke have been happy in his position?
There were a few Hong Kong Chinese who derived their wealth or 'power' by
serving their imperial masters well and, naturally, the UK media love to quote their,
say, fawning over the British royal family and pretend that it represents all Hong Kong Chinese.
So I suspect that Teinosuke and I may look at British colonial rule in Hong Kong
from opposing sides of the apartheid wall between us.
China's not a democracy, and I don't expect Hong Kong today to be a utopia.
I also dismiss the typical hysterical expectations of ignorant racist Westerners.
Back in 1997, I heard white people tell me that they were certain that PLA soldiers
would soon invade Hong Kong and slaughter thousands of people.
That never happened, and, of course, those white people never have conceded error.
I perceive Hong Kong as a child in the Chinese family, a child that was separated
and reared by outsiders, yet one who has returned to the family. Naturally, after
such a separation, there may be issues of adjustment.
To the British, good riddance (and try to avoid self-pity over losing part of your empire).
Hong Kong is a part of China, and its fate is tied to the fate of 1.4 billion+ people in China.
When they rise, Hong Kong will rise too. I believe that all China has the potential to rise.
I also believe that it's unrealistic to imagine a Hong Kong floating serenely above a China in distress.