Hong Kong is an island of free speech and civil liberties in an authoritarian sea. It is not, however, a democracy. Citizens have never had the power to choose their top leader, neither as part of China since 1997 nor as an outpost of the British Empire for 156 years before that. In 2014, the prospect of the first direct election of Hong Kong’s leader, or “chief executive,” increased the tension between a yearning for autonomy and China’s demand for loyalty, triggering 79 days of street protests


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