Now China is maintaining that the government must look to the intentions of the negotiators - that is, the Chinese negotiators, not the British ones - who drafted the Basic Law rather than to what it actually says.
China has also threatened to suspend the Basic Law if it appears events in Hong Kong affect Chinese national security. Among such threats, it seems, was last year's massive demonstration that forced local governors to drop strict security controls. Such exercises of civic involvement seem to be disturbing to Beijing.
As a result, the Chinese government is to decide sometime this week what moves toward democracy will be allowed in Hong Kong in coming years. While Hong Kong officials welcomed that announcement, democracy activists were furious, saying that it's setting limits on democracy even before the people of the territory have a chance to discuss how they want to choose their leaders.
I can't say I'm surprised. The population of Hong Kong is only a small part of China as a whole, but I still can't believe the central authorities can be happy about the continued functioning of a democratic enclave with a population pushing seven million. In fact, back on February 2, in response to earlier moves by Beijing to assert more control over Hong Kong, I said
Did anyone really honestly believe that Beijing would honor the promises it made about political freedoms for Hong Kong? I mean really? And what do you think are the chances, with the "huge Chinese market," as it's always described, in play, that anyone will speak out on behalf of Hong Kong now?I see no reason to alter that sentiment.