Many Chinese citizens on the mainland have apparently provided positive support for the Communist Party's hard-line policy against Hong Kong, further jeopardizing democracy, freedom and human rights in the former British colony.
The Chinese Communist-led government has accelerated measures to exclude pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong's politics to tighten its control over the special administrative region, as the ruling party marks the 100th anniversary of its founding.
Some regional experts warn that the leadership of President Xi Jinping has been attempting to conquer Hong Kong, in which democracy is supposed to be guaranteed, by clamping down on those who have stymied Communist Party rule.
"The Communist Party regards any person critical of it as an enemy. The mainland will continue to take whatever steps it can to thoroughly suppress pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong," a diplomatic source in Beijing said.
"To make matters worse, Chinese on the mainland, who have persevered under Communist rule, have basically disliked Hong Kong people, who have benefited from freedom and democracy for the past decades," the source said.
"Xi has tactfully used such sentiment and imposed tougher restrictions on Hong Kong to maintain the Communist Party," he added.
Under China's "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong was promised it would enjoy the rights and freedoms of a semiautonomous region for 50 years following its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Xi's leadership, however, has begun to take strict actions against Hong Kong since large-scale protests sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill with mainland China morphed into a pro-democracy movement in 2019.
In late June 2020, Beijing enacted a controversial national security law for Hong Kong to crack down on what it considers secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
At this year's annual session of China's parliament scheduled to be held for seven days through next Thursday, the nation's lawmakers will review the electoral system of Hong Kong, in the latest move dealing a crushing blow to democracy in the territory.
The electoral system there needs improvement to keep pace with the times for the accurate implementation of the "patriots governing Hong Kong" principle, Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People's Congress told reporters on Thursday.
It remains to be seen how China will change the electoral system, but a legislative election in Hong Kong is likely to be postponed for a second time to September 2022 against a backdrop of Beijing's planned overhaul, local media reported.
"The national security law for Hong Kong helped build up a fence for safeguarding national security and electoral reform makes sure the power of authority is firmly held by patriots," said the Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with the Communist Party.
A 45-year-old Chinese man told Kyodo News, "I totally agree with the Communist Party on Hong Kong."
"Although Hong Kong people have always acted like victims of the mainland, they have adequately blessed with democracy and freedom, while recently receiving economic benefits from China," he said.
Around 20 years ago, Hong Kong's economy accounted for one-fourth of China's gross domestic product as the city developed as an international financial hub, but the scale is now only about 3 percent, analysts say.
"Hong Kong is part of China. It can no longer survive without the mainland. People there should obey the Chinese central government," he added.
A 53-year-old woman in Beijing said many Chinese citizens have been irritated by Hong Kong people, who have a "dream that is impossible to come true."
"Whenever they open their mouths, Hong Kong people say China must respect democracy, freedom and human rights. But in any case, Hong Kong will be completely absorbed into the mainland in 2047, right? What do they want to get?" she said.
"Even if Hong Kong became independent from China, how would people there be able to rule the region? They have no experience in governing a country. They are only fantasists ignorant of reality like elementary school students," she added.
Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor at International Christian University in Tokyo, said the Communist Party's policy on Hong Kong is "broadly supported in mainland China."
"Hong Kong people are seen as selfish, traitors to the motherland, and tools of Western countries, especially the United States and Britain," Nagy said.
"This sentiment is both real and carefully curated by the Communist Party to ensure Hong Kong's vibrant and critical civil society does not spread into mainland China," he said.
The novel coronavirus pandemic had also "bolstered the Communist Party's and ordinary citizens' confidence and righteousness of the central government's approach to Hong Kong and we should expect no compromise," Nagy added.
The diplomatic source echoed the view, saying it is necessary for the international community to "work as one" in a bid to curb "abuses" by Xi's leadership against Hong Kong.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office in January, "should impose sanctions on Beijing if it makes Hong Kong's electoral system worse. Chinese citizens may become aware of the policy gaffe of the Communist Party," the source said.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump slapped sanctions on China, inflaming already strained tensions between the world's two major powers.
Should bilateral relations deteriorate further under Biden, Washington would have "no option but to strengthen sanctions on Beijing to counter the Communist Party and protect Hong Kong," the source added.