Democracy, China’s Way

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HONG KONG: In the latest sign that China cannot stomach the true "one country two systems" plan it promised for the future of Hong Kong, the provisional government on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to require police approval of demonstrations and allow political parties to be banned. The changes would roll back the island's democratic development to the beginning of the decade, when the British governor wielded broad power to silence critics. Under the proposals, people wanting to stage a protest after the July 1 handover date must seek police permission seven days in advance, or 48 hours in special circumstances; groups that engage in politics would be prohibited from forming links with foreign political groups; and political parties would be barred from soliciting overseas donations, and could be banned altogether if the government deems it is "in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of public morals." Officials from Hong Kong's future government said the plan, which was trotted out for public comment, is intended allign the island’s laws with the constitution China has written for it and to "strike a balance between civil liberties and social stability." But the true test for the future of civil liberties in Hong Kong will be whether the incoming government can agree to compromises after the public discussion, which is sure to elicit solid opposition from the Democratic Party and Hong Kong's other liberty-loving citizens