2014-09-16    HK had democracy - in 1941!


Not many people know that Hong Kong had elected representatives when local councils to run the territory were established during the Japanese occupation in 1941.  Those councils were disbanded once the Japanese occupation ended and Britain resumed control of Hong Kong.

Nor do many people know that when Britain on several occasions tried to introduce a measure of democracy in Hong Kong, the moves failed because of opposition from local business people!  The business people, both foreign and local Chinese, saw democracy as a danger to their profit-making.

Only when the Sino-British agreement was signed in 1984 did Britain get really serious about democracy in Hong Kong. I remember a government official telling me in 1985 that, in order to protect Hong Kong's freedoms, Britain would establish a democratic structure. But this structure was outside the guidelines of the Basic Law, and China was within its rights when it dismantled the structure in 1997.

The moral of the story is that Britain and Hong Kong people "missed the boat". If democracy had been established well before 1984, it would have been enshrined in the Basic Law. Hong Kong people acted too late: they took democracy seriously only when the danger of losing their freedoms became apparent after 1997. An excellent article on the history of democracy in HK is in this link: http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/hong-kong-city-broken-promises/