Wang Zhenmin said Hong Kong’s political system would not work without patriots being in charge. And, its socioeconomic problems could “never be solved” by Western-style democracy, claimed Wang, head of the national security affairs department of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. I agree with the first proposition but not the second. Since Hong Kong never had a full Western-style democracy, it’s hypothetical whether it would work or not. It also depends on what we mean by “work”. Any political system would work in some ways but not others. But we can at least agree on the following: Hong Kong has failed in its transition to full Western-style democracy. You can take your pick as to the causes or reasons, and blame one side or the other, or both and everyone. Personally, I blame everyone. But this is nothing unusual; the transition from one regime to another has always been the most unstable and dangerous time for a community. Hong Kong is not the first and will not be the last to fail at it. US faces likely trajectory from anocracy to civil war It may well be that “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others”. But even if you are convinced of that, a society may still reject the heavy price – which may well be collapse and chaos – to be paid for the transition. There is no guarantee that at the end of the transition will be a functioning democracy. Hong Kong, though, would probably have worked with a functioning Western-type of democracy, considering we were among the freest and richest societies in the world – at least until recently. If we had been born into one! But many Hongkongers made two fatal mistakes in the transition. One is that they thought they could risk the transition from an informally but practically free society to a free and full formal democracy – without local leadership and mainland consent. In 2019, the old pro-democracy “leaders” let radical and violent youth hijack the democratic transition. The second is that they always have had to be “patriots” if they were to make that democratic transition. To earn Beijing’s trust or at least benefit of the doubt, you must acknowledge, first and foremost, without conditions: (1) you are Chinese and (2) Hong Kong is part of China. As soon as some people questioned or even repudiated both conditions to organise an opposition movement, the game was up.