On July 1, hundreds of thousands of protesters converged on the streets of Hong Kong as the city marks the 16th anniversary of its handover to China. They demanded that Beijing lives up to its promise of allowing fully democratic elections in Hong Kong by 2017, and demanded that the unpopular Chief Executive Leung Chung-Yin step down because of the slow pace of political reforms under his watch.– no action has been taken at all on the issue of universal suffrage, for instance.
Calls for democratic development are not new in Hong Kong. It has been a major issue since the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China in 1997. The One Country, Two Systems principle imposed by China allows Hong Kong to govern itself in all areas except defense and foreign relations. Concerns about democracy began when its first Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa Kong, mishandled the issue of democratic reforms. Mr. Tung was overwhelmed with frustrations about his inability to press Beijing for universal suffrage, leading to significant drop in his approval ratings.