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The June fireworks celebrating Hong Kong’s return to mainland China are still vivid memories. So is all the optimistic talk from western diplomats and corporate titans who assured the world the bastion of freedom would not be destroyed in the absorption process.

Well, here we are a scant six weeks later, and the Chinese authorities are already planning to end democratic rule for millions in Hong Kong.

Oh, I know you haven’t read much about it here in the West. For some reason, bad news from totalitarian regimes seldom makes it to the front pages of the establishment press. But here’s the scoop for those of you who care.

Hong Kong is scheduled to conduct its first local elections under the watchful eye of Beijing next year. On Wednesday, the Provisional Legislative Council — dominated by those sympathetic to the ruthless regime in China and its fat-cat multinational partners — will entertain a bill that would slash the number of eligible voters in that upcoming election from 2.7 million to 180,000.

Does that sound like progress? Or does it have the familiar ring of those old-fashioned “dictatorships of the proletariat”?

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are understandably shaken — but hardly surprised. They knew all along what lurked around the corner in this New World Order scheme.

Under the new plan, corporations in Hong Kong will have a say in who is elected to the governing body. But employees — ordinary citizens — who had a vote under the British system of governance, will not.

The British government recognizes the plan for what it is — “a major step backwards.” But it’s a little late for idle criticism and toothless second-guessing. The new appeasers in the West have abdicated any political leverage they had with the unconditional handover of Hong Kong to the so-called “People’s Republic” of China.

“The election is dominated by the rich, powerful and pro-Communist,” explained ousted legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing. “It should be exposed and condemned.”

Yes, it should be. But don’t hold your breath. On the very same day the proposed changes were announced in Hong Kong, U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was full of praise for Beijing for significantly improving the lives of the Chinese people over the past 10 years. I’m not kidding.

Following a visit to the mainland to assess the human rights situation, Berger said the Chinese people now have more choice in where they live and work. He did acknowledge, however, that the progress in human rights did not extend to the political arena.

“Political dissent is not enjoyed in China,” he admitted.

What the government-media complex sees as human rights “progress” in China, has nothing to do with human rights at all. It has to do with China’s ambitious plans for rapid economic growth. If large numbers of people need to be moved to expedite those plans, then they will be allowed to relocate. If it is in the state’s interest to permit some level of entrepreneurialism to achieve its goals, then controlled capitalism will be tolerated — even encouraged.

But don’t mistake such moves as reforms. What the government gives, it can always take away. The 80-year history of Communism is replete with such phony periods of “glasnost” and “perestroika.” Two steps forward and one step back. It’s all part of the long-range game plan.

Sycophants like Berger are either hopelessly ignorant or criminally collaborative. My guess? The latter.

Human rights are not measured in dollars and cents. They’re measured by laws and constitutions that recognize people’s inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. By that standard, you can’t even talk about “progress” in China.

Life? China, which, in its relatively brief experiment with modern socialist totalitarianism has destroyed more of its own innocent human lives than any other country in history — including the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Liberty? In Beijing, they laugh at the idea of individual rights. The state is everything. The individual is nothing. Pursuit of happiness? Sure, if your idea of happiness is rapid growth of the gross national product by any means necessary.

Hong Kong is simply a means to an end for China. What’s happening there today was as predictable as Tiananmen Square.

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