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ASPI Presents: Hong Kong and Beijing – why now and what does it mean?

By Kelsey Munro and Michael Shoebridge

This ASPI webinar, chaired by Senior Analyst Kelsey Munro, debated the deep political division in Hong Kong, and the geopolitical implications of Hong Kong’s shrinking freedom and autonomy.

Kelsey is joined by former Hong Kong democratic politicians Alan Leong and Martin Lee, with human rights researcher Maya Wang and ASPI’s Michael Shoebridge.

Beijing's move at May's National People's Congress to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong is 'the end of Hong Kong as we know it', according to some commentators. It follows more than a year of mass anti-government protests and police brutality, with millions of citizens repeatedly taking to the streets to voice their discontent with Beijing’s increasing heavy hand in the city. Beijing's move comes at a time when countries around the world are depleted and distracted by the coronavirus pandemic. But it also comes at a time of enormous economic and political challenges for Beijing, with Hong Kong as a potential part of plans to restarting growth and engagement with the global economy.

What does Beijing’s prioritisation of control in Hong Kong over economic vibrancy there mean for Hong Kong's people, and for its future as a vibrant world city and key financial hub? Is this the end of the One Country Two Systems formula, supposed to last until 2047, or is there room for Hong Kong to maintain key elements despite Beijing’s shrinking of space for these?