APB: “Standing Up” for Hong Kong

Has Xi Jinping finally overplayed his hand? The new security law for Hong Kong may be just that. Whereas the “cultural genocide” in Xinjiang, the roundup of lawyers and journalists around the country, and the coverup of the coronavirus pandemic leave critics with few weapons other than naming and shaming, Hong Kong presents a different case. It is an international city, one of China’s faces to the world, with well established businesses, universities, cultural institutions, and civil society. Like Taiwan, Hong Kong is the other and future China—precisely the China that the Beijing authorities most fear. They should be negotiating that future with Hong Kong’s authentic spokespeople.

The official Chinese justification for its new national security law, laid out in a May 22 commentary (http://hm.people.com.cn/n1/2020/0522/c42272-31718886.html), is ludicrous in every respect. It proclaims that the protesters want to carry out another “color revolution”; that they are in cahoots with Taiwan’s independence movement; that Hong Kong is “the main card” “foreign forces” are using to block China’s progress; and that it is the “opposition faction” in Hong Kong that threatens the rights and freedom of its people. These are all smokescreens for a brutal interference, and they fool no one. What they will surely do is abet violence, for Hong Kongers, united in their distrust of the Beijing-appointed leaders, are bound to continue protesting. The situation could become Xi Jinping’s Tiananmen—a potential widespread crackdown that will set back China’s supposed “great rejuvenation” and “responsible great power” status for years to come. So much for China’s century.

China long ago committed to a “one country, two systems” principle and to respect for the Basic Law of HK, which provides for considerable autonomy to at least 2047, including Hong Kong’s right to “enact laws on its own.” Those commitments are now being trashed before the eyes of the world in a desperate attempt to stop people from protesting peacefully for democracy. It won’t work. Covering up what is happening in Wuhan or Kashgar may be possible, but not in Hong Kong.

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5 Comments

  1. Hong Kong is a matter of time unless China can change. I’m concerned about Taiwan as the one and only Chinese democracy in history and the keeper of great cultural riches including the Chinese language.

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    1. Bob, there is good reason for concern about Taiwan these days. Beijing has lately been putting pressure on Taiwan, including close-in military maneuvers. Events in Hong Kong can only make Taiwan nervous–and ever more determined to remain outside Comrade Xi’s dream of reunification.

  2. Hi Mel, It’s possible Xi Jinping “ overplayed his hand.” But shouldn’t ‘this have been expected? I have thought it could have occurred some months ago. You correctly referenced Tiananmen, but let’s also remember the Hundred Flowers Movement , 1956-57. After an initial blossoming, a few weeds sprouted among the flowers and Mao decided eradication was necessary, weeds and flowers all. No need to go on; the point is that independent thought is allowed to a certain degree by the Great Son of Heaven—whoever hie is—and then suppressed if carried too far. (Yup, those damn weeds again.)
    And, yes, China’s “commitments are . . . being trashed before the eyes of the world,.” But after the usual finger wagging, and sending the 7th fleet forth and back along the Chinese coast, what will the reaction be from other nations ? And from the U.S. as well? More tariffs? Really? Perhaps a condemnation from the U.N. ? Good luck. So is there an answer? Yes, it’s that positive historical movements usually take a long time to unfold, but they do, eventually. I’m hoping.
    Thanks, Mel, and keep on punching. —Glen Jackson.

    1. In previous blogs I mentioned the possibility of a direct PRC military intervention in Hong Kong. That could yet come. For what it’s worth, I think Xi would have preferred not to take this latest step, but given the opportunity afforded by US and European preoccupation with COVID and the likely resumption of mass protests in HK, he made his move. And there’s not much to be done about it. A large-scale withdrawal of international business from HK would matter, but don’t bet on it. Trade restrictions are more likely, but that won’t faze Mr. Xi.

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