One often hears that the people of Hong Kong only care about “making money” – and have little interest in how they are governed.
A million people in the streets protesting a Beijing-mandated extradition law suggests otherwise. The law – potentially allowing China to grab anybody in Hong Kong and take them in handcuffs to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for “trial” has provoked a bigger and fiercer response than either Beijing or its local representatives in the Legislative Council (Hong Kong’s “Congress”) imagined.
There is something important – indeed inspirational – going on to get a million Hong Kongers (almost 15% of the population) out protesting. And that is a desire for fair and “consensual government” – and an implicit fear of the authoritarian police state that is the PRC with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in control – where”‘rights” are exactly (and only) what Xi Xinping says they are.
Hong Kongers might have differing concepts of the sort of freedom and self-government they want (such is always the case with a million people), but it is at least a first-cousin to democracy and the individual freedoms Americans and other free people will recognize.
The CCP is incapable of providing such freedom to its citizens (in Hong Kong or the mainland) – and is scared to death of the idea. Hong Kong protesters demanding freedom (of whatever sort) give the lie to Beijing’s arguments that its citizens don’t mind a boot on the neck – as the alternative to chaos. South Africa’s Afrikaners argued the same thing about black Africans during the now long-gone Apartheid era.
What’s likely to happen next in Hong Kong?
According to one observer familiar with both Hong Kong and the Chinese Communist Party:
“Chances are they will wait and then punish who they believe are the ring leaders, just as they did with the “umbrella movement” in 2014. Jail time for ridiculous reasons; constant and pervasive harassment.
The police are thoroughly penetrated and coopted (by the CCP/mainlanders), although I note their anti-riot tactics and skills are still pitiful. Back when I was still in HK and they had the WTO meeting and the riots began, they had to round up all the old expat coppers to man the front lines. The locals couldn’t handle it – they were taking beatings. If things get rough the HKP (Hong Kong Police) will be outclassed very quickly.
The wild card – as always – will be how far Beijing is willing to let things go. Will they back down again, and then use their toadies to start again on a different route – just as with the security law and education “reforms” – or will they finally crack down hard?
I suspect the former, but the latter is possible if the kids on the streets embarrass the flat foots (the Police) and it looks like the Quislings have lost control. Keep in mind, the Chinese have security teams operating all over HK, not to mention local gangsters in their pockets, and they could easily and quickly intercede – kill, beat, or scare the hell out of some the more vocal protestors – short of a full Tiananmen Square scenario.
Fingers crossed the protesters dig in and really fight for freedom.
Frankly it’s just embarrassing and disgusting that we’re not backing them – or at least trying to fake it and make the right noises.
Again the “Teamsters” (the CIA) are shockingly feckless. China is our biggest threat and we should be doing everything to destabilize and weaken their empire – HK, Tibet, Uighurs, etc., etc.”
Defining moment for Trump Administration?
Sometimes a U.S. administration faces an event that will define it. This is the Trump Administration’s opportunity.
Most recently, the Obama administration faced the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 when the PRC seized Philippine ocean territory, and before that the Iranian Green Revolution in 2009. President Obama failed miserably. Indeed, giving the word “craven” a bad name. Mr. Obama couldn’t even muster the decency to speak up forcefully (or at all) to support an ally in the Scarborough Shoal case, or for brave Iranians demanding freedom and a change of government after a rigged election.
As for President Trump: Military options for supporting Hong Kong are not very good – and this writer believes are ill-advised beyond speeding up existing efforts to bolster the U.S. position in the region and to support allies and friends. But moral and verbal support to keep freedom’s ember glowing in Hong Kong is just as essential. Such was the case during the Cold War when the U.S. spoke up in support of liberty in the Communist bloc despite long odds of it ever happening.
Standing for freedom.
Even Nelson Mandela noted how it was psychologically important while he was imprisoned to have at least moral support from America and the West for the anti-apartheid movement. The Afrikaner-run government hated it.
U.S. government officials, politicians, and propagandists – if there are any competent ones – should be trumpeting admiration for the Hong Kong protesters – who want nothing more than a bit of freedom of the sort Americans value.
So how about Mr. Trump addressing the nation and the world in the next couple of days?
In 1987, Ronald Reagan declared in West Berlin and in front of the cameras: “Mr. Gorbachev – tear down this wall!” This horrified the State Department and much of America’s foreign policy and academic elites. Yet, the Berlin Wall came down two years later in a chain of events nobody – and certainly not the CIA – expected.
Mr. Trump, get on television and channel Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Xi – let Hong Kong have a real election. Like you promised. What are you afraid of?”
And once you’ve done that, do the following: Delist the Chinese company, Alibaba, and the next five largest PRC companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges, impose a total ban on Huawei, prohibit U.S. pension funds (public and private) from investing in the PRC, and quietly cancel “green cards” of prominent CCP leaders’ relatives in the USA – and freeze their bank accounts.
And this is just for starters.
An American President cannot go wrong standing up for freedom. It’s what America is about, after all. So is Hong Kong.