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Anyone keeping up with the news of the unprecedented mass protest that's going on in Hong Kong?

 

What do you guys think is going to happen?

  • CCP backs down
  • Protest dies down eventually with nothing major accomplished
  • Repeat of Tianman Square of '89

 

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If the protesters are careful and smart enough, I suspect Beijing will back down. However, if they turn to violence, or if their demands turn unreasonable, then Beijing won't be able to do that, and will have no choice but to act.

 

That would create a very dangerous situation for both sides. On the one hand, protesters could end up dying and HK's free society could end up being crushed, on the other hand the protests could spread to other Chinese cities. So there's a lot of incentive, for both sides, to not escalate the situation any further. 

 

The protesters demand for "democracy" hardly seems worth risking all the freedom Hong Kong already enjoys for. It's also worth noting that Hong Kong has a long history of pro-democracy protests, and that they are always peaceful and very rarely result in significant achievements. So there's no reason to expect that these protests in particular will escalate into any serious violence.

Edited by Nicky

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From what I've read, it's not so much as a protest for more democracy. The whole deal started when Beijing released a white paper stating that Hong Kong will get their first democratic election in 2017 as promised, but all candidate able to participate must be approved by Beijing first. (This is actually fundementally the exact system Mainland China have. There is actually democractic elections in mainland china, but since all candidate are "approved" by the current power-to-be, no one bothers to vote)

 

http://media2.coconuts.co/styles/article_header/s3/field/image/rotten_apples_image-jpg.jpg

 

The bigger fear of many there I think is that this is only the first step of a bigger scheme. The next thing on the chopping block are the economic freedoms.

 

Still, the Hong Kongers are something else. I don't think I've ever heard of kids that went to these kind protests anywhere else in the world still trying to keep up with their school by doing homework on the scene:

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-29423147

 

And then you got pictures like this: 

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/10625074_716454955098526_285854267353971081_n.jpg?oh=9901b38a113b921bf4cdad600436cacb&oe=54C614A8&__gda__=1420993173_2060e39351f09475a5adfaf9db49aac4

 

Wonder how this whole thing is going to pan out.

Edited by VECT

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Yeah but here's the thing: is protest actually going to accomplish anything?

 

Armed rebellion ----->  cuts military power

Atlas Shrugging -----> cuts tax revenue

Peaceful protest -----> ???

 

Protest works in a democratic society because government official retain their position through votes.

When you have a dictatorship to begin with, what does protest by itself actually accomplish?

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Yeah but here's the thing: is protest actually going to accomplish anything?

 

Armed rebellion ----->  cuts military power

Atlas Shrugging -----> cuts tax revenue

Peaceful protest -----> ???

 

Protest works in a democratic society because government official retain their position through votes.

When you have a dictatorship to begin with, what does protest by itself actually accomplish?

I wouldn't call HK a dictatorship. In a dictatorship, power is exercised by one person or entity. Hong Kong has a semi-representative government, with three independent branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. Beijing has some (but nowhere near full) control over one of those branches.

 

Unless you define everything that's not a democracy a dictatorship, I don't see how that label could fit HK. 

 

Not only are the Hong Kong students standing up for liberty in the face of tyranny

Can you give some examples of how this tyranny manifests itself? As far as I know, individuals living in Hong Kong are more free than people in most democracies.

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As far as I know, individuals living in Hong Kong are more free than people in most democracies.

This is true. In fact, one could argue that they have more freedom than people in Singapore. Many of the parents of these protesting kids don't quite get what they're asking for... in concrete terms. When it comes to economic freedom, they can do pretty much what they want. Laws and attitudes toward sex and speech/publications (that stays out of politics): still more free than most non-Western countries.

Of course, that's not a complete argument, but the point is that the motivation toward democracy is not that strong.

Meanwhile, the Chinese leadership cannot let people see them as weak. If they do, someone will test them on the mainland. Instead of opening up, the last year or so has seen a consolidation of central authority. Commentators say this is because Chinese elites expect growth rates to slow, and expect that structural change will be needed. Structural change runs into established interests. Supposedly, Xi is consolidating power so that he can push through some structural change.

Bottom line is that Xi cannot give in. At most he can agree to talk about a path to democracy, without making any promises, without letting down someone from his team (e.g. by firing the HK exec.), and only if the protesters stop their civil disobedience. Xi would not like to use more force than required, and his weakness is that the HK police aren't the PLA. If he can reduce and compartmentalize the protest, he'll probably try to wait it out. But, if he has to use force, he will.

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@Nicky

 

Hong Kong municipality is more or less democratic.

 

But as a city they belong to China, and what Beijing says overrule whatever their own municipality representatives says. Whether or not that is actually in the current law is only a technicality. Power is all that matters.

 

So even if a protest moves a mayor of Hong Kong who is sympathetic, if that mayor isn't doing what Beijing wants, he'll get replaced, one way or another.

 

This protest is aimed at Beijing. So when I said dictatorship, I obviously was pointing to Mainland China.

 

 

And yes, I agree with what swNerd said, I would be very surprised if Beijing gave any inch to this protest. The protest will not cause them any actual damage if they let it go on and wait for it to die out by itself. If Beijing let up however, they risk setting a very dangerous precedent to the rest of Mainland.

Edited by VECT

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Can you give some examples of how this tyranny manifests itself? As far as I know, individuals living in Hong Kong are more free than people in most democracies.

 

 

The protests are directed at the attempts of the Chinese central government to have veto power over HK political candidates, thereby effectively reducing HK to another Chinese territory in the long run. As Vect said, the tyranny comes from the Chinese mainland government, not the HK municipal government.

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The protests are directed at the attempts of the Chinese central government to have veto power over HK political candidates, thereby effectively reducing HK to another Chinese territory in the long run.

I don't want to make excuses for the Chinese government, but the Chinese are not going backward from where they are today. Rather, they are reneging from where they were meant to go. Today, the Chief Executive is elected by an Electoral College. This college is not formed via democratic elections, but various industry groups (and other pressure groups) select candidates. This is by and large the Hongkong establishment, not the hoi polloi. Basically, the Chief Executive is always someone whose primary loyalty lies with Beijing.

This was supposed to be the way until 2017 [the first 20 years of Chinese rule]. Then, in 2017, Hongkong was to move to direct democracy. The Chinese "clarified" that when they move Hongkong to direct democracy, they will still get to nominate the possible candidates. So, rather than trying to assimilate Hongkong, the Chinese are reluctant to let it be as independent as they promised.

Edited by softwareNerd

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The protests are directed at the attempts of the Chinese central government to have veto power over HK political candidates, thereby effectively reducing HK to another Chinese territory in the long run. As Vect said, the tyranny comes from the Chinese mainland government, not the HK municipal government.

I'm not asking about HK's political status, I'm asking about what this alleged tyranny consists of.

HK laws are passed by a semi-representative legislative body, and enforced by an independent judiciary. And they are doing an excellent job of it, better than most legislative bodies in full democracies.

Furthermore, China has shown no signs of wanting to change that. Their only interest seems to be in wanting to maintain control over the executive branch (which doesn't have enough power to be tyrannical, even if it ever wanted to do so - and there are no signs that China would want to steer it in that direction), to avoid HK turning into another Taiwan. So where's this tyranny, or even danger of tyranny, that these protesters are supposedly fighting?

Edited by Nicky

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But as a city they belong to China, and what Beijing says overrule whatever their own municipality representatives says. Whether or not that is actually in the current law is only a technicality. Power is all that matters.

That isn't actually in the current law, HK law DOES NOT allow China to do anything whatsoever to any Hong Kong resident.

And it's not true that those laws don't matter. Those laws protect HK's residents' rights. They have done so for the past 17 years, without exception, and they will continue to do so right up until the moment the People's Liberation Army invades.

Since there are no signs that the PLA will ever invade (not unless HK threatens to declare itself a sovereign state, and defy China's modest demands that their executive branch remain friendly to Beijing, in ways that DO NOT violate the rights of HK residents), HK law protects people's rights as well as any law, anywhere.

If that doesn't matter, I don't know what does. HK will always be vulnerable to outside control, there is nothing they can do to change that. They're too small, and western powers are not able or willing to protect them. Relying on China for their protection, while remaining a free city-state, seems like an excellent arrangement to me, and the best they can ever hope for.

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Nicky, you place too much faith in laws.

 

Laws are are just words. The reason they have power is because:

  • People recognize authority/sovereignty the words derive their powers from
  • There are people with big sticks willing to enforce the words

Hong Kong recognizes CCP's sovereignty over them and also recognizes CCP have the bigger stick.

 

As long as these two conditions are met, the CCP already have all the power they need to manipulate the laws of Hong Kong as they wish. The only questions left are if they intend to do so, and how gracefully will they do so.

 

Invade with the PLA and asking Hong Kong to change laws is probably the most crude of crudest strategies, so of course that will never happen.

 

Having a puppet Executive (who is not answerable to the local people) that will be able to change/add the the laws you want is much more efficient.

 

When HK was under UK, UK had no interest/intention of using their sovereignty power to manipulate HK by-laws to erode their freedoms, so people then didn't feel threatened and see a need for protest for more democracy transferring political power from the sovereignty to the people.

 

Now you have CCP, which in HK's eyes is a lot less trust worthy than UK. So when CCP renege on giving HK more democratic power to its people as was promised, HK feels threatened because they fear CCP, as opposed to UK, have the intention of using their sovereignty power to manipulate HK laws in the long-run, to the possible decimation of the  freedoms that HK now enjoys, and they see this act of reneging this transferring of power as a manifestation of that intention. 

 

Then again, who knows; CCP might not actually erode HK's freedoms any further, even when they have all the power they need to do so, with a puppet Executive and all.

 

Still, people don't like it when the political power that can limit their individual freedoms lies with a sovereignty their do not trust. That I imagine is the root-cause of this protest, rather than just a protest for democracy for democracy's sake.

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Laws are are just words. The reason they have power is because:

  • People recognize authority/sovereignty the words derive their powers from
  • There are people with big sticks willing to enforce the words
This. Even the Chinese constitution acknowledges Chinese citizen's freedom of speech, press, protesting, etc, but in reality everyone knows they're just empty words. If China gains more and more control over HK, the same thing may eventually happen to HK laws.

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VECT, here's a shortlist of some of the claims and implications you have made in this thread, that you have never attempted to prove or back up with any logical arguments:

1. HK is a dictatorship.

2. China has eroded the freedoms of HK citizens

3. The CCP has the power to pass laws that erode HK citizens' freedom

4. HKs laws are meaningless

5. HK has a puppet executive

I consider all of those statements blatantly false. I am not aware of any Chinese attempts to invalidate or change HK's laws, or take away its citizens' freedoms. The fact that they have the power to do so does not mean they did so, or that they will do so. In general, the fact that someone has the power to change a rule or law does not invalidate that rule or law.

The line of reasoning "China has the power to change HK's system of government, therefor the rights HK's system of government protects are meaningless/don't really exist/etc." is not logical. You haven't proven that China is even so much as a threat to those rights. Threat=Capability+Intent. All you've shown is that they have the ability to change HK's system of government (which of course they do, since they have a billion man army, and HK doesn't have any army, or any outside powers to rely on - no amount of protesting is going to make China's army vanish off the face of the Earth). But you haven't shown that they have the intent too.

Edited by Nicky

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This. Even the Chinese constitution acknowledges Chinese citizen's freedom of speech, press, protesting, etc, but in reality everyone knows they're just empty words.

The Chinese constitution isn't empty words. It's not the words we may like, but they're an honest attempt to describe the system (a fascist system of government, which allows for certain individual freedoms, but places the interests of the state and collective, as interpreted by the people in power, above them). For instance, sure, this is in it: 

 

Article 35 Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

 

but so is this:

Article 51 Citizens of the People's Republic of China, in exercising their freedoms and rights, may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society or of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.

 

More importantly, that Constitution does not apply to HK. HK has its own law, which includes this: 

 

The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.

 

Neither you nor VECT have offered a single piece of evidence to suggest that HKs basic law is not being enforced, that China wishes it to not be enforced, or that HK's executive has the power to breach it. 

If China gains more and more control over HK, the same thing may eventually happen to HK laws.

Is China trying to gain more and more control over HK? As far as I know, the issue is that they don't want to relinquish the amount of control they have now, not that they're trying to gain more.

Edited by Nicky

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@Nicky

 

1. Did I? Or are you just trying to put words in my mouth and conveniently ignore what I replied the last time you accused me of this

2. I had frequent business travellings between Shenzhen and Hong Kong when I worked in China. I remember some of the websites that was blocked in China for me was also blocked for me in Hong Kong when I crossed over. I just did research on this and there was no mention of internet censorship in Hong Kong, so I suppose it was technical difficulties on my part and I was mistaken.

3. To pass laws using existing Hong Kong bylawys to erode their freedom? Probably not. To pass laws from Mainland to overrule laws in HK? Absolutely. HK is not a country, it's a city of China. Laws derive their power from sovereignty. Some country's sovereignty lies in a constitution, other lies with a monarch. In China, it lies with the concept of China as a 5000 year old civilization. And the current wielder of this sovereignty is the CCP.

4. I said you overestimate their power and endurance

5. Do I know for sure if the current CE is in fact a puppet to CCP? I don't, and nor did I say I know for sure he is. Can the current and future CE be puppets? Given the system, absolutely. The current CEs in Hong Kong is nominated by a committee rather than general population, a committee of special interests with strong ties to Mainland China. Future CEs also must be pre-screened and be pre-approved by CCP first.

 

The fact that they have the power to do so does not mean they did so, or that they will do so.

 

Oh, so you do agree now then they have the power to do so? Because I was confused a bit by the your #3 and all your previous arguments about how laws in Hong Kong is all but impermeable to the powers of CCP.

 

Did they already passed laws to erode HK's freedom? I suppose I was mistaken and taking it for granted the reason the same website that was blocked in China for me was also blocked in Hong Kong was due to some cause other than censorship.

 

Does CCP have intention of using their power to erode HK's freedom in the future? Now this is an interesting topic.

Here is my view:

 

CCP does not view free-market and individual rights..etc. as good because of principles and human nature. They view the latter as good because empirical data have proven things such as free-market is great for economic growth, one of the only 2 key metrics that CCP respects (the other been military might). And the reason they tolerate the first in HK is because HK's economic prowess when compared to Mainland all those past years and they are willing to extend some special treatment due to that merit. Now however, given the strong economic growth of Mainland itself, the prosperity of Hong Kong is less and less glamorous as compared to before, and CCP have less and less incentive to give HK special treatment.

 

Already I can tell you from first-hand that there is a growing sentiment in Mainland China that views HK as the spoiled child of the family. If the parent (aka CCP) is setting strict house rules for the rest of us that limits individual freedoms, why should they get special treatment? Are they not part of China?

 

CCP have suffered tolerating giving HK special treatment all these years through 1c2s due to her economy. But as the economy of rest of China rise up and HK becomes just another Chinese city, the days of her freedom is numbered.

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1. Did I? Or are you just trying to put words in my mouth and conveniently ignore what I replied the last time you accused me of this

Yes, you did, in no uncertain terms. And when I replied that that's not true because HK has a set of laws that limit the power of the government and protect the rights of its citizens, you replied that those laws are meaningless words.

And just now, you again repeated that you believe HK laws have no power, because HK is just a city in China (which is a dictatorship).

But fine, forget about all that. You don't consider HK a dictatorship. Why not? If HK is just a Chinese city, and its laws are meaningless, then what makes it different from Beijing, or Guangzhou, or any other Chinese city with meaningless laws?

Edited by Nicky

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I don't consider HK itself a dictatorship at the moment because they still enjoy a large amount of personal freedom and individual rights (as opposed to all the other cities you named).
 
But that is not to say those rights currently enjoyed by HK is not at the mercy of a dictatorship (CCP).
 
It's one thing to say the law is meaningless (which is the equivalent of non-existence), it's another to say it's at the mercy of a higher power.
 
If laws are meaningless, that means ANYONE, such as an average citizen, could deem themselves the authority to ignore what is in the law or make laws themselves to overrule existing ones. That is not the cause with HK, and nor did I say that was the case.
 
While not anyone deem themselves above the law, CCP can and do.
 
There are only two possible reasons as to why CCP have not eroded the freedoms in HK so far:
  • CCP respects HK's Rule of Law and do not see themselves as having the right to interfere with individual freedoms
  • CCP sees themselves as reserving all the right to do with HK as they wish, but choose not to at the moment for their own practical reasons.

Which one do you think it is? Because the only way HK's laws are immune to CCP is if the reason CCP haven't eroded HK's freedoms so far is due to the first reason.

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I don't consider HK itself a dictatorship at the moment because they still enjoy a large amount of personal freedom and individual rights (as opposed to all the other cities you named).

 

But that is not to say those rights currently enjoyed by HK is not at the mercy of a dictatorship (CCP).

 

It's one thing to say the law is meaningless (which is the equivalent of non-existence), it's another to say it's at the mercy of a higher power.

In this very thread, just 2 days ago, you claimed that HK's laws "have no power". Do you still believe that, and if you do, what exactly is allowing HK's residents to "enjoy a large amount of personal freedom and individual rights"?How exactly are powerless laws protecting people's individual rights?

CCP respects HK's Rule of Law and do not see themselves as having the right to interfere with individual freedoms

CCP sees themselves as reserving all the right to do with HK as they wish, but choose not to at the moment for their own practical reasons.

Which one do you think it is? Because the only way HK's laws are immune to CCP is if the reason CCP haven't eroded HK's freedoms so far is due to the first reason.

There is no other way for China to abolish HK's system of government, except through military intervention. I've seen no evidence whatsoever that China has any intention of abolishing HK's system of government through military intervention. Not as long as HK cooperates with China in maintaining an executive that is friendly to Beijing. Therefor, HK's system of government is safe from Chinese intervention for as long as HK's executive remains friendly to China, and as long as HK's system of government is safe, so are HK residents' rights.

That's a correct application of logic. What you did above is not. You haven't shown (you haven't even made an attempt to show) that the CCP believing in individual rights is a necessary condition of HK maintaining its current legal system. You just alleged it, for no apparent reason except that it confirms your existing beliefs.

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In this very thread, just 2 days ago, you claimed that HK's laws "have no power".

 

Speak in red doesn't help you. Quote me.

 

I never said "laws have no power". What I said is that their power is not inherent (as you would suggest) but is fuelled from else where.

 

There is no other way for China to abolish HK's system of government, except through military intervention.

 

Now, hypothetically, if the majority of HK citizens have Objectivism ethics or something close to that effect, then yes, you are right that except through military intervention, CCP will not be able to overrule HK's laws without the people rebelling.

 

But they don't. Their allegiance to individual freedom is through tradition rather than reason. They see themselves as Chinese (albeit a higher class of Chinese) and they harbour the exact same fundamental collectivism convictions as those on the Mainland.

 

As long as citizens of HK have those collectivist ethical convictions and recognizes the fact that now they are but a city that belongs to China, and that the power of sovereignty lies with Beijing, there are always ways for CCP to overrule HK in the long term through political manipulations without be forced to resort to direct military intervention, because people will accept that they have the right to do so.

 

"Power resides where men believe it resides". With laws, their power resides ultimately in the ethical beliefs of the citizens.

 

If HKer's ethics tells them that their current individual rights should be inalienable from any and all entities, because those are conditions needed for humans to truly live, then yes, short of military force CCP won't be able to abolish them.

 

But that's not the case. average HKers identifies themselves culturally as Chinese and their collectivist ethics tells them that they are subjects to China and owe their allegiance to Beijing. They won't be happy if Beijing trends on their freedoms because that's part of their valued tradition, but their ethics will tell them begrudgingly that China have the right to do so. The other large group, the pragmatists, also won't care as long as their living standard is not negatively effected.

 

 

Now does CCP actually have intention to abolish freedoms in HK? No one knows for sure. What I said was only my personal speculations just as

what you said "Not as long as HK cooperates with China in maintaining an executive that is friendly to Beijing", is yours.

 

It could very well be the case CCP will leave HK as it is even when the 50 year mark passes. I certainly hope so.

 

But one thing is for sure, CCP believe they have every right to abolish freedoms in HK, and given the ethical convictions of HK, if CCP have a mind to do it, they don't have to roll in tanks.

Edited by VECT

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Speak in red doesn't help you. Quote me.

 

I never said "laws have no power".

HK is not a country, it's a city of China. Laws derive their power from sovereignty.

This is the end of our conversation, btw.

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And pray tell how do those two quotes contradict?

 

"I never said that laws have no power"

"The power existing in laws comes from else where"

 

"I never said that barrel have no water"

"The water existing in that barrel comes from else where"

 

Am I missing something here or is your logic beyond us mere mortals?

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But one thing is for sure, CCP believe they have every right to abolish freedoms in HK, and given the ethical convictions of HK, if CCP have a mind to do it, they don't have to roll in tanks.

Governments are typically classified by who holds power rather by by what they do with that power. So, we have monarchies, dictatorships, democracies... but that classification does not tell the whole story. One can have a country with multiple parties where the government is elected and where there are peaceful transitions, yet where people are allowed to do less than in another country with a single-party system.

I assume everyone here will agree that:

- governments ought to be based on individual rights

- the key principle of law should be: individual rights ought to be protected

- it is insufficient for rights to merely be allowed by a bully with a gun

Also, in any particular case:

- a democracy not founded on rights as primary can disallow rights in some spheres, while allowing others (think India)

- a single-party system can can disallow rights in some spheres, while allowing others (think mainland China)

 

Hong kong is different from mainland China because the Chinese agreed, in principle, to the Basic Law, thus promising rights not available elsewhere in China. In addition, by practice, the Chinese have shown that they can be pretty hands-off, mostly respecting the deal.  In 1994, I  thought the deal would be eroded in a decade or two, but I was wrong.  Though China has the military power to do what it wills in HK, and though it will do so if it becomes a threat to the party-leadership, it does not want to. it would much rather HK go on as it has done in the last 20 years.

 

I assume you agree with the above. if not, where do you disagree?

If you do agree, then how you would summarize the key point you're trying to make, given the above context?

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Hmmm, I agree with the majority of what you said, but there are 2 key points I would make.
 
The first of which is this:
 

Hong kong is different from mainland China because the Chinese agreed, in principle, to the Basic Law, thus promising rights not available elsewhere in China. 

 

Can you clarify what do you mean by "in principle"?

 

Are we talking about CCP believing in principle the right of people to individual freedoms?

Or is it actually, as you wrote, "[individual] rights to merely be allowed by a bully with a gun"?

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