Insert your own Guns and Roses joke here, but you’re still going to be waiting a long time for Chinese democracy. And sadly, it will likely be about the same amount of time for Hong Kong because that city-state is still firmly under their control. It’s a fact that was proven yet again this month as Beijing stepped in to overrule the results of several local elections held last fall, giving the boot to pro-democracy legislators who had been elected in their districts but will not be seated in office. Of course, China doesn’t do these things directly. They use their own agents who are in place inside of Hong Kong’s government. (Associated Press)

Activists accused Beijing of crippling Hong Kong’s parliament Friday after four pro-democracy lawmakers were disqualified.

More than 1,000 people protested near the government offices Friday night in response to the decision.

The High Court judgement came as a massive blow for the democracy movement as it means the balance of power in the partially elected legislature swings further to the pro-China camp because opponents do not have enough seats to veto bills.

Former Umbrella Movement protest leader Nathan Law was among those barred in a case brought by the semi-autonomous city’s Beijing-friendly government after the four changed their oaths of office to reflect frustrations with Chinese authorities.

In addition to Nathan Law, previous election victors Lau Siu Lai, Edward Yiu and Leung Kwok-hung were all refused seats on the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Their “crime” was to not appear “sincere” enough while taking their oaths as viewed by the government in Beijing. The reality, of course, is that they were all elected on platforms which supported additional independence from Chinese control.

China didn’t need to step in directly because they’ve stacked Hong Kong’s highest court with Beijing loyalists who will rule on any case in the fashion which best suits the mainland’s purposes. The Chinese tolerate a certain amount of protesting in the streets, but if it gets too loud, too critical or out of hand in any fashion the ensuing crackdown is brutal. You may recall what happened after some protests in 2014, when numerous dissidents were locked up, beaten down and isolated.

This ruling from the court was the final leg of a process which began last November and it should dispel any quaint ideas about Hong Kong actually having any real power to chart their own path should it run too far astray from the wishes of the mainland. It’s been roughly 20 years now since Great Britain handed over control of Hong Kong to the Chinese. At that time there were certain assurances written into the deal which appeared, on the surface, to allow Hong Kong to retain some semblance of autonomy, but most observers at the time knew that China had long term plans which would negate those efforts. So the people of the city now truly do have a government which is representative of the people. Unfortunately for them, “the people” in question are all well placed officials of the Communist Party in Beijing.