3. Don’t Assume Hong Kong is as Free and Open as the West
Under British rule for 156 years, Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 as is now a “Special Administrative Region.” While mainland China is communist, Hong Kong enjoys a limited democracy. It’s a complex dance between the two influences, essentially “one country, two systems.” The basic law of Hong Kong ensures that their government “shall safeguard the rights and freedoms of the residents.” Clearly, Hong Kong embraces more legal freedoms than the People’s Republic of China does – including the right to assembly – but Beijing is starting to flex its power more and more, as was seen in the recent electoral reforms (only candidates that supported China’s party line were deemed eligible). Activists in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to protest this encroaching influence from the mainland. Some believe that e-mails are being monitored and Internet censorship is happening. Travelers should be aware of these rising tensions and be cautious about engaging in politically charged communications.