For the Week of January 28, 1997

More Info: China moves to limit human-rights laws in Hong Kong

Terms used in the story:

undermine - to work to damage or weaken.

civil liberties - the rights and freedoms enjoyed by ordinary people.

gut - seriously damage, remove the effectiveness of something.

bill of rights - an official list of the rights and freedoms possessed by a group of people.

governor - an official appointed to run a colony or territory. In this case, the governor of Hong Kong is appointed by Britain, which has control over the colony until the summer of 1997.

curtailing - cutting back, restricting.

pledge - a promise.

autonomy - independence, self-government.

sovereignty - control, rule.

transition - a change from one state of being to another.

solely - only, entirely.

central - main, most important.

water down - weaken, dilute.

bloody crackdown - a violent attempt to stop people from doing things the government does not approve of. In this case, the people asked for political change and democracy.

pro-reform - people who are in favour of change, usually change to remove bad governments or laws.

sights - a reference to the aiming system of a gun, meaning that plans are being made to hurt or destroy something.

franchise - a right granted by a government, usually the right to vote.

entrenching - making secure.

political parties - groups of people with similar political beliefs who work together to gain political power.

ordinance - a rule or law, especially one introduced by a city government.

demonstrations - a public rally or march to show opinion on a subject. People demonstrate in favour of peace, for instance, or against government laws they do not like.

amend - alter.

handpicked - carefully selected.

legislature - a group of people elected or selected to make laws for a country or territory.

implications - the logical results of something - what it will mean for the future.

unrepentant - feeling no shame or remorse.

Sino-British treaty - an agreement between China and Britain that lays out how the transfer of Hong Kong will work.

override - to have power over.

flies in the face - goes against, is not consistent with.

status quo - the existing state of affairs, how things are.

diplomatic mission - an organization or group of people that represent their country while in another country.

unrestricted - not interfered with.

mini-constitution - a small version of a constitution. A constitution is a set of laws and principles that describe the rules that affect a government and its people.

ratified - officially approved of.

mainland - from China.

charter - an authorization, a written plan.

repression - control, loss of freedom.

common-law - an English system of law based more on court decisions and customs than written rules and codes.

chided - scolded, criticized.

magnate - a powerful, influential person, usually a businessperson.

repeal - to make invalid, to take back or remove.

formally - officially.

provisional - temporary.

Background Information: Hong Kong consists of a series of islands, and a strip of land on the mainland of the People's Republic of China. It is a crown colony of Britain, first occupied by the British during a war with China in 1842. Some of the colony's land was leased to Britain in 1898, for 99 years. The lease ends in 1997, so in 1984, China and Britain negotiated a treaty that will see the entire colony returned to China this summer. Although Hong Kong never governed itself, it had the protection of British laws and freedoms. China, on the other hand, has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949. And though it has experimented with economic freedoms, it does not allow its people many political freedoms.

Want to learn more about what has happened between Hong Kong and China? Visit these past NewsDEN stories for more background information and web links!

April 9, 1996: Hong Kong: Thousands rush to get British passports

April 23, 1996: Hong Kong students kicked out of Chinese preparatory committee meeting