Briefing paper

Democratic crisis in Hong Kong: recommendations for policymakers

International relations Relations with China Totalitarian systems Communism Democracy Hong Kong


  • Millions of people in Hong Kong are protesting democratic deterioration and rights violations, amid increasing police brutality and other violence against them. The United States and other democracies must take strong, immediate action to stand with the people of Hong Kong in their defense of democratic values, urge accountability for perpetrators of violence, and protect international economic and security interests in the territory.
  • Hong Kong’s police force has responded to the largely peaceful protesters with violence, while statements about the protests by the Chinese government, which has a garrison of troops stationed in Hong Kong, have been increasingly bellicose. Civilian protesters and bystanders have been assaulted by members of mafia-linked gangs with probable ties to the Chinese government.
  • Freedom House has tracked a sharp democratic decline in Hong Kong over the last decade, alongside increasing interference by the Chinese government in local affairs. A weak international response to the events in Hong Kong increases the likelihood of worsening unrest that could harm US interests and citizens in Asia, and would set a dangerous precedent for potential future Chinese Communist Party aggression.
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