A few weeks ago, Xia Baolong, the head of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, called on the people of Hong Kong to vote in the legislative elections on 19 December. ‘It’s not just a vote for their preferred candidates,’ he said, ‘but also a vote of confidence in “one country, two systems”’ – the formula devised in the 1980s that was supposed to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy after it returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. On Sunday, the majority of the electorate rejected Xia’s invitation. Only 1.35 million people – 30 per cent – turned out to vote.
In normal circumstances, on Thursday evening I would be going to Hong Kong island’s Victoria Park for the annual vigil remembering those who died in Beijing on the night of 3-4 June 1989. But this year the gathering has been banned. The ostensible reason is a Covid-19 rule limiting public groups to a maximum of eight people.