‘Even dissent is controlled’: How Hong Kong’s world has changed – Al Jazeera English

Hong Kong – In mass rallies and large election turnouts, many people in Hong Kong have pushed hard to build a democratic system within China’s one-party state.

Since 1989, when Chinese soldiers silenced the Tiananmen Square protests by opening fire on those gathered there, many Hong Kong people have demanded more autonomy from the Chinese government. The way to guarantee that, they said, was universal voting rights and open, free elections – a Hong Kong ruled by Hong Kong people.

Those dreams appeared to have died on Tuesday.

Nearly 24 years after China agreed to allow selected rights and autonomy in the former British colony, the national government will fully steer the city’s governance with a raft of changes to the territory’s elections system. The revisions, which will certainly be rubber-stamped by the local legislature, are destined for the city’s mini constitution without any input from its residents.

An elections committee with central state officials and influential corporate blocs loyal to Beijing will screen candidates for the city’s chief leader and legislators.

Galling to many in the territory is that police will vet nominees to ensure their political beliefs are not in opposition to the sweeping national security law that China imposed in June last year, which has been used to imprison some of the most outspoken critics.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has supported the changes and says they will not prevent those who disagree with the government from running for office [Vincent Yu/AP

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