Post-1997 Hong Kong under the constitutional framework of “One Country Two Systems” has a political system that may be characterized as a “semi-democracy.” Hong Kong’s constitutional instrument—the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China—provides that the ultimate goal of the evolution of Hong Kong’s political system is the election of its Chief Executive by universal suffrage. Since 2003, a democracy movement has developed in Hong Kong that campaigned for the speedy introduction of such universal suffrage. In 2007, the Chinese government announced that universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong may be introduced in 2017. In 2014, the Chinese government announced further details of the electoral model. The model was rejected by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in 2015, with the result that the election of the Chief Executive in 2017 would not materialize. This article seeks to tell this story of Hong Kong’s quest for democratization, focusing particularly on the context and background of the “Occupy Central” Movement that emerged in 2013 and its aftermath. It suggests that the struggle for universal suffrage in the election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017 and the obstacles it faced reveal the underlying tensions behind, and the contradictions inherent in, the concept and practice of “One Country, Two Systems,” particularly the conflict between the Communist Party-led socialist political system in mainland China and the aspirations towards Western-style liberal democracy on the part of “pan-democrats” and their supporters in Hong Kong.
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