I reminisce about my time in Hong Kong with the heartache you associate with losing a friend.

After years of frequent stays, my trips to this bewitching place came to an end with my retirement.

If that were not reason enough for a hefty dose of melancholy, the current state of affairs in HK warrants immense sadness.

In 1997, when the UK handed over its former colony to China, many feared this would be the end of Hong Kong as they knew and loved it. Now, as the 23rd anniversary of the island’s return to Chinese rule approaches, it’s become all too obvious that Beijing has lastly dropped its tolerant mask and the one-country, two-systems sham has been finally exposed for what it is.

Back before the handover, Beijing had pledged to give Hong Kong 50 years of a “high-degree of autonomy”, but clearly never meant to deliver on its promise.

Indeed, July 1 in Hong Kong has long been associated with protests against the heavy hand of Beijing since that fateful raising of the CCP flag at midnight on June 30, 1997.

This time, however, the Hong Kongers’ worst fears have become reality and a Tiananmen-style crackdown on the inevitable demonstrations looks frighteningly real.

I may never return to Hong Kong—and if I ever do, I’m not sure how different it will be.

My heart goes out to its people on this first of July, 2020.