The British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, assured freedoms for 50 years. The clock is ticking.

Rise of authoritarianism and what to do about it: a Q&A with Timothy Snyder
Do not obey in advance. Defend institutions. Believe in truth. These are some of the lessons that Yale University historian Timothy Snyder detailed in his book, “On Tyranny,” a guide to surviving America’s turn toward authoritarianism based on the events of 20th-century Europe. The lessons Snyder laid out in the 2017 book have found an eager audience also in Hong Kong and elsewhere. It became a best-seller during the protests that broke out in the city last summer, calling for greater autonomy from Beijing and freer elections. One of the most popular slogans centered its scrutiny on tyranny itself: “There are no rioters, only tyranny.” As Hong Kong’s freedoms face new threats from a sweeping
From Belarus to Thailand: Hong Kong’s protest playbook is spreading everywhere
Black-clad protesters with colorful umbrellas. Yellow helmets and plumes of tear gas. Leaderless crowds standing off against police. These protest scenes around the world – in places as different as Thailand, Belarus, Lebanon and the United States – have been striking in their likeness to the anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year. Social media has been central to helping protesters in Hong Kong draw global attention to their calls for freer elections and greater autonomy from Beijing. The loosely coordinated campaign in Hong Kong has also spread protest savvy, leading to a global wave of demonstrations more resistant to conventional law enforcement tactics and forming unlikely alli
Hong Kong police arrest media tycoon and raid newsroom
Hong Kong police on Monday raided the offices of the city’s Apple Daily newspaper and arrested its founder Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, under the new national security law. A police source told the South China Morning Post that the media mogul was arrested “for collusion with a foreign country, uttering seditious words and conspiracy to defraud.” Another eight people, including Lai’s two sons, had also been taken into custody. The arrests were the most high-profile use to date of Hong Kong’s security law, which was imposed on the former British colony in June amid opposition from the city’s pro-democracy lawmakers and Western democracies including the United States. In response
Hong Kong’s new security law puts social media giants in a tough spot
The Hong Kong authorities could block social media giants if they refused to hand over user data to the police under a new national security law, analysts said, describing a worst-case scenario that could drive global internet companies out of the Asian financial center. The world’s leading social media firms, including Google, Facebook (and its messaging app WhatsApp), Twitter, Telegram and LinkedIn, have so far presented a united front against such requests.  Their announcements to hit pause on processing requests by Hong Kong authorities for user data came a week after Beijing imposed the security law that critics feared could be used to crack down on dissent in the city. The former Briti
Global reach of Hong Kong security law ‘extraordinary and chilling’
The national security law that Beijing has imposed on Hong Kong has raised concerns among legal experts that it could apply everywhere. The controversial legislation came into force late on the night of June 30, after it was unanimously passed by Beijing’s top legislative body and signed into law by President Xi Jinping. The law prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security, with a maximum penalty of life in prison. Legal experts said Article 38 of the law, which covers even offenses by people outside the city who are not Hong Kong residents, creates a “chilling” overreach.  They said the coverage goes furth
Hongkongers convicted under new security law could be imprisoned for life
People convicted of crimes under a new national security law Beijing is imposing on Hong Kong could face life imprisonment, sources told the South China Morning Post. China’s top legislative body on Sunday kicked off a special three-day meeting fast-tracking the legislation, which is being tailor-made for the former British colony to prevent, stop and punish acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security. Opposition politicians and critics said the bill could be used to suppress dissent and erode freedoms in the city, which is governed under a “one country, two systems” framework that gives Hong Kong considerable autonomy.  The legisl
How Hong Kong keeps memories of Tiananmen crackdown alive
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Every year on the evening of June 4, Hongkongers gather in a public park to remember the Tiananmen Square crackdown with songs, flowers and candlelight.  The annual mass memorial has helped people around the world remember the 1989 pro-democracy protests that ended in bloodshed.  The event also symbolizes the unique freedoms Hong Kong enjoys as a special administrative region in China. While the 1989 movement is a taboo topic in mainland China, it can be freely discussed and commemorated publicly in the former British colony.  The event has taken place in
The constitutional document that defines Hong Kong
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s equivalent of a constitution. It lays out how the city should be governed as a special administrative region of China. It went into effect on July 1, 1997, when the former British colony was handed over to Chinese rule. For over two decades, debate over the governance of Hong Kong has revolved around the Basic Law, with much of the focus on the rights and freedoms of the city’s 7.5 million residents, as well as Beijing’s role in its affairs.  What is ‘one country, two systems’? The Basic Law says that Hong Kong should be gover
Coronavirus: mental health experts sound suicide warning
A leading Hong Kong mental health expert has warned that the city might be on the brink of a wave of suicides brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, director of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, is part of an international group of mental health specialists who have sounded the alert about the potential psychological impact of the pandemic. Among those most at risk are workers who have lost their jobs, those facing severe financial hardship and elderly people who feel cooped up at home because of restrictions on movement. Yip said prolonged restrictions and social-distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus cou
Hongkongers say they have themselves to thank for curbing coronavirus
Most people in Hong Kong said they would credit themselves rather than the government for containing the coronavirus in the densely-populated city, a survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post has found. Hong Kong, which borders the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, has so far managed to limit the spread of the virus, a success that local epidemiologists have attributed to early social distancing practices, improved personal hygiene and the nearly universal use of face masks. Out of nearly 850 people polled, seven in 10 said they would credit the community response for beating the coronavirus, while more than half objected to the idea of the government being commended for it. The