Virus outbreak offers pause for Hong Kong to ponder its future

Even as Beijing acts to tighten control over the city, the Covid-19 crisis may open room for Hong Kongers to debate their future

When a hardline Chinese Communist Party (CCP) apparatchik was put in charge of Hong Kong affairs last month, at the height of a raging coronavirus crisis on the mainland, many expected Beijing to tighten its grip further on the financial hub.

True enough, on Feb 28, just a fortnight after the appointment of Mr Xia Baolong as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Mr Jimmy Lai, media tycoon and symbol of Hong Kong's resistance against Beijing and the city's government, was arrested on charges of illegal assembly and intimidation of a journalist.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline 'Virus outbreak offers pause for HK to ponder its future'. Print Edition | Subscribe