Sophie Richardson | 25 June 2014 | Human Rights Watch
Over the past four days, more than 700,000 people in Hong Kong have presented the Chinese government with one of its worst nightmares: a peaceful process that challenges Beijing’s authority under international law . As of June 23, according to some estimates, as many as one in five  registered voters have cast ballots through a non-binding, city-wide referendum to choose among three proposals for political reform in Hong Kong  — ignoring threats from the ruling Chinese Communist Party in the process.
The challenge Beijing faces is clear: should it grant real autonomy to Hong Kong’s 7.2 million citizens, and allow them to decide whom to elect and how? Or should it try to crush democratic aspirations among its citizens, as it has done  many times before?