Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hong Kong: Why the Stakes Are So High

 

A cursory reading of the situation is that the Hong Kong people are advocating for the freedoms and liberty of Hong Kong. They are doing that. But it is more than that, as the Chinese government surely sees.

If Hong Kong manages to protect its freedoms, then riots will – eventually – break out in Shanghai and Beijing and everywhere else. The future of all of China depends on crushing the Hong Kong protesters. The Chinese understand this. What they (and nobody) understand is what consequences may come from putting down protesters in a society that (still) has a free press, using soldiers and live ammunition. Tiananmen Square was before Social Media. Those consequences could include enormous economic pain from sanctions and businesses avoiding both countries, and it could readily spark a global recession.

This is a Very Big Deal.

Indeed, I think the only way in which Hong Kong emerges with freedoms intact is if Chinese dissidents simultaneously act in Beijing and Shanghai and elsewhere. Which would mean a complete revolution in China.

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There are 34 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Do you see any signs that there are dissidents in China who might take action?

    • #1
    • August 12, 2019, at 7:17 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Add in Taiwan and this could go a number of ways. 

    • #2
    • August 12, 2019, at 7:39 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member

    iWe: I think the only way in which Hong Kong emerges with freedoms intact is if Chinese dissidents simultaneously act in Beijing and Shanghai and elsewhere. Which would mean a complete revolution in China.

    I hope you’re wrong about that, because I just can’t imagine the Chinese people taking on their government head on. That was the whole point of Tiananmen Square – that was simply the government saying, “Don’t even think about it.”

    So I hope you’re wrong. But I suspect that you may be right. Which is really too bad.

    This could go very badly very quickly.

    • #3
    • August 12, 2019, at 7:40 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  4. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    The scale of suffering attending such a paroxysm of freedom would be impossible to ignore – not that I would wish to ignore it. 

    Americans view ourselves as The Good Guys. What would good guys do in a situation like this? 

    • #4
    • August 12, 2019, at 7:57 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. MarciN Member

    I agree completely with the original post.

    The Chinese people have had a taste of freedom and prosperity, and they will be not be able to let it go.

    The Communists are financially dependent on China’s middle class. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, as conflicts go. The Communists have an unbelievably huge war chest to rely on in fighting their own citizens. That’s the bad thing. The good thing is that the smart and resilient Chinese middle class has never been stronger financially.

    What I hope the world leaders do is what they did when the United States was engaged it its Civil War: back off and back out. Both sides in China will try to gain the advantage by dragging in foreign allies.

    Chiang Kai-shek helped us win World War II–he was the fourth ally. He hoped we would help defeat Mao after the war with Japan was over. We did not do so–we had no taste for war at that point, and Mao seemed like such a nice guy.

    It’s time to right this stupid global error. It sounds like the Chinese will do it without our help this time. Good for them. I’m cheering them on.

    • #5
    • August 12, 2019, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  6. MarciN Member

    I spent the most amazing day yesterday. I went up to Tanglewood where Yo-Yo Ma was performing his U.S. concert for his Bach project. This is the promotional clip he made for the project: Culture Connects Us.

    I met my daughter and her husband and my grandson in Lenox in the beautiful Berkshires. It was a day trip for me, and so I stayed for the afternoon’s magnificent BSO performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral (6th) Symphony, but I left before the 7:30 p.m. performance of Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach suites.

    When I went to leave (my kids stayed), we asked the ticket gate guy about the traffic out of Tanglewood. He said to us, “Well, let’s see. You’ve got 6,000 people trying to leave after this afternoon’s concert and 10,000 people trying to get in for Yo-Yo Ma.” We all laughed.

    I sat in the traffic mess for two hours, so I had lots of time to think about what I was witnessing. I am glad I live in a world where 10,000 people would sit for an hour just to get in and two hours just to get out of a concert by a solo cellist, Yo-Yo Ma.

    Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris, but his parents were Chinese. Leonard Bernstein introduced seven-year-old Yo-Yo Ma to the world.

    Never underestimate the peaceful but indomitable Chinese people.

    • #6
    • August 12, 2019, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. GrannyDude Member

    Fingers and toes crossed that the Chinese government recognizes that a military crackdown in Hong Kong will cost them more (money, lives, trust, international prestige) than making concessions would. I saw a video of troop transports driving down a deserted avenue between glittering high-rises. Ai yi yi.

     

    • #7
    • August 12, 2019, at 9:15 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    I read several weeks ago that money had started to flow out of Hong Kong. If the Chinese government forces a solution via the PLA, they will likely kill the goose. That may be a price they are willing to pay.

    • #8
    • August 12, 2019, at 11:15 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  9. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I think you have it backwards. There is not going to be a lot of support in Beijing and Shanghai for Hong Kong. First of all there are long standing regional rivalries in China. People in Beijing and Shanghai look upon each other with distaste and neither have much use for those in Hong Kong who they see as privileged.

    Even in Hong Kong’s current state, those on the Mainland see Hong Kong has having much more freedom than they do, so what are they complaining about? Moreover, at this point the protestors won their immediate issue in the local administration pulling the extradition law off the table. I think the current tactic of shutting down the airport is going to lose them more than they gain.

    The Chinese government is going to be reluctant to use force in HK, but if their only alternative to losing control is to use force, they will use force. 

    And there will be little reaction on the mainland for the reasons above, as well as the knowledge based upon the 1989 experience and the increasing government control since 2012 which make it clear that the Xi administration will act ruthlessly internally, particularly where it does not have the international concerns surrounding Hong Kong.

     

    • #9
    • August 12, 2019, at 12:39 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  10. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Fingers and toes crossed that the Chinese government recognizes that a military crackdown in Hong Kong will cost them more (money, lives, trust, international prestige) than making concessions would. I saw a video of troop transports driving down a deserted avenue between glittering high-rises. Ai yi yi.

     

    There’s been a Chinese army garrison of about 5,000 soldiers in Hong Kong since the 1997 turnover.

    • #10
    • August 12, 2019, at 12:41 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I’ve been looking around and have now seen photos of Chinese army armored vehicles massing in Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong. Not a good sign.

    • #11
    • August 12, 2019, at 12:49 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. iWe Reagan
    iWe Post author

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):
    There’s been a Chinese army garrison of about 5,000 soldiers in Hong Kong since the 1997 turnover.

    They might be less comfortable mowing down Hong Kong civilians. The last thing the Chinese government could withstand would be soldiers disobeying orders.

    • #12
    • August 12, 2019, at 1:07 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  13. MarciN Member

    I am truly worried about this situation. For a million reasons, this is not good.

    I am hoping that the collective intelligent brains that I know operate in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong will ease us–the civilized world–out of this.

    • #13
    • August 12, 2019, at 1:15 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Someone posted [I searched in vain for the post] about a BBC reporter who was allowed into a ‘school’ for Muslims who lived in China. 

    Despite Potempkinly efforts at misrepresentation it was painfully apparent that it was more reeducation camp, complete with confessions of wrongthink, than it was school. 

    It was creepy. More than that, it was chilling. 

    Their efforts to hide the nature of these places points up that while the Chinese understand that much of the world is not on board with this kind of thing, they don’t really understand what it is we object to. 

    The Chinese don’t ‘get’ us (or the Muslim world for that matter which would have been horrified at the BBC report not for reasons of curbed freedom but for offense to G-d). 

    Turn it around though; we don’t ‘get’ them either. We see people yearning to be free. We see ourselves, our hopes, our dreams. 

    • #14
    • August 12, 2019, at 4:00 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Al French, Count of Clackamas Member

    I just listened to the Pacific Century podcast and the guest, Richard McGregor, predicts that China will crush the uprising within a month.

    • #15
    • August 12, 2019, at 9:30 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Henry Castaigne Member

    This will come with blood and Civil disobedience the Hong Kong Chinese will need to martyr themselves to shame the Mainland government and they will need to pay as little in taxes as possible as part of a civil protest against their exploitation.

    • #16
    • August 13, 2019, at 8:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Henry Castaigne Member

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    I just listened to the Pacific Century podcast and the guest, Richard McGregor, predicts that China will crush the uprising within a month.

    I suspect that too. But the question is whether or not they will earn the hatred of their countrymen. 

    • #17
    • August 13, 2019, at 8:53 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Unsk Member

    Only a miracle will save Hong Kong. As with the trade situation, there is hardly any chance that the Red Chinese will grant the people of Hong Kong any concessions and live by the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

    Chairman Xi is hellbent on exerting control of all of China’s people including those of Hong Kong. Xi with his high tech/data mined Orwellian State on Steroids/ Social Credit System in Red China will not and probably feels he cannot allow his “subjects” in Hong Kong to have the great freedoms they currently enjoy. The two systems are simply and completely incompatible, with the freedoms of Hong Kong a existential threat to the desired effect of the new High Tech Dictatorship on the Mainland.

    The Red Chinese have completely shredded any agreement they have entered into when it became convenient, and with imploding Chinese trade situation ruining the accommodative relationship with the West of the recentpast , the Red Chinese may feel it’s time to exert full control over Hong Kong. So as it was with the WTO agreement and other agreements which the Red Chinese simply refused to abide by, it will be with the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 that allowed Red China to take back Hong Kong with the provision that Hong Kong would have a 50 year period of semi-automonous control with free trade, free markets and many of the basic freedoms we enjoy.

    The people of Hong Kong are right to be scared for their lives and their freedoms , with many of Red China’s willing and well paid lackeys in media and Western Governments so willing to run interference for them ( we’re talking you, Joe Biden) , Red China believes it can rule with a iron fist and crush dissent violently with little or no consequences. With our pliant Media, few in America are even now aware that there is serious problem in Hong Kong that threatens it’s very existence as a free port, and when the people of Hong Kong are crushed, the Media and our Deep State politicians will likely excuse it away.

    • #18
    • August 13, 2019, at 9:05 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  19. Hugh Member

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Only a miracle will save Hong Kong. As with the trade situation, there is hardly any chance that the Red Chinese will grant the people of Hong Kong any concessions and live by the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

    Chairman Xi is hellbent on exerting control of all of China’s people including those of Hong Kong. Xi with his high tech/data mined Orwellian State on Steroids/ Social Credit System in Red China will not and probably feels he cannot allow his “subjects” in Hong Kong to have the great freedoms they currently enjoy. The two systems are simply and completely incompatible, with the freedoms of Hong Kong a existential threat to the desired effect of the new High Tech Dictatorship on the Mainland.

    The Red Chinese have completely shredded any agreement they have entered into when it became convenient, and with imploding Chinese trade situation ruining the accommodative relationship with the West of the recentpast , the Red Chinese may feel it’s time to exert full control over Hong Kong. So as it was with the WTO agreement and other agreements which the Red Chinese simply refused to abide by, it will be with the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 that allowed Red China to take back Hong Kong with the provision that Hong Kong would have a 50 year period of semi-automonous control with free trade, free markets and many of the basic freedoms we enjoy.

    The people of Hong Kong are right to be scared for their lives and their freedoms , with many of Red China’s willing and well paid lackeys in media and Western Governments so willing to run interference for them ( we’re talking you, Joe Biden) , Red China believes it can rule with a iron fist and crush dissent violently with little or no consequences. With our pliant Media, few in America are even now aware that there is serious problem in Hong Kong that threatens it’s very existence as a free port, and when the people of Hong Kong are crushed, the Media and our Deep State politicians will likely excuse it away.

    Of course an interesting twist to all of this is that anyone with any money at all has obtained dual citizenship with a Western country which was allowed as part of the agreement. If you start squishing British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and American citizens with tanks, then what?

    PS: included an Oxford comma for all you sophisticates out there…

    • #19
    • August 13, 2019, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Unsk Member

    “If you start squishing British and american citizens with tanks, then what?”

    Interesting take. Does that give Trump and Bojo the right to step in and protect their citizens? Maybe. 

    What would be really interesting would be if those people in Hong Kong with dual citizenship asked to be protected by either Britain or America or both. That might force both Trump and Bojo into acting to protect them, or otherwise might raise the justification level of defending them. The combination of Red China completely ignoring their obligations under the latest treaty and American and British citizens asking to be defended might drive our governments into acting.

    • #20
    • August 13, 2019, at 10:41 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. iWe Reagan
    iWe Post author

    The US could be creative here…. Offer citizenship to all working Hong Kong Chinese….what would China do?

    • #21
    • August 13, 2019, at 3:23 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  22. Percival Thatcher

    iWe (View Comment):

    The US could be creative here…. Offer citizenship to all working Hong Kong Chinese….what would China do?

    Remind Xi how many HKers have dual citizenship on account of their mothers giving birth to them in Hawaii.

    • #22
    • August 13, 2019, at 3:39 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Unsk Member

    A bit of bitter if probably accurate and sobering cold water from Sundance at CTH :

    First, Hong Kong is China. Whether a generation of people look back with regret to the time when Great Britain ceded the territory to Beijing is irrelevant. China has, and will have, full control over Hong Kong; and that’s the way it is. This will not be reversed.

    Any effort for the people within Hong Kong to reverse the situation and escape the clutches of oppressive communism while retaining their liberty will only lead to massive bloodshed.

    Unfortunately for Hong Kong, as President Trump decouples the U.S. economy from the duplicitous communist Chinese enterprise, Beijing will grasp more control over the heavily Western-influenced economic strata in/around Hong Kong.”

    Stand back and look at the bigger picture. President Trump has neutralized, essentially made irrelevant, Beijing’s use of their proxy province, North Korea. President Trump has embraced Kim Jong-un, not as much out of a position of warmth – but rather as a tactic to block China from weaponizing the DPRK as leverage during the U.S-China trade confrontation.”

    “Beijing still uses their influence to shoot rockets, test missiles etc and president Trump ignores it now. Why? Because North Korea already has nuclear missiles; they’re the same nuclear missiles China has… and it is silly now to think China will remove their nuclear missiles to gain an economic benefit.”

    “Losing their DPRK leverage, and understanding Beijing has no direct tools to defeat the U.S. in an direct economic confrontation, means China will look elsewhere. That’s where Hong Kong comes into play.”

    “[Always remember, despite the U.S. tariffs on China, there are no tariffs on Hong Kong]”

    “Do we feel sympathy watching a once free society slip into the grips of an oppressive and totalitarian system now ruled by a communist dictator for life in Chairman Xi Jinping? Sure we do. But they made these choices decades ago… now they have the consequences.”

    “If Hong Kong tries to resist Beijing, they will be crushed. Hundreds more will be arrested and disappeared. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, will be killed. There is already a ongoing flight of wealth out of Hong Kong as the smart and wealthy position their assets overseas to survive the arrival of Beijing’s storm troopers.”

    “Things are speeding up now in direct proportion to the severity of the U.S. decoupling our economy from China. As the Chinese economy weakens, Beijing will get more desperate.”

    “Many voices around President Trump will cry out for intervention. The UniParty will demand intervention and decry President Trump’s instinct to stay away from the self-made crisis.”

    “It is not our issue; and engaging in Hong Kong only opens up another pathway for China to play the duplicitous leverage game…. Beijing will play the “we’ll spare, delay, or dilute the Hong Kong absorption, if you agree to our trade terms” game. [lies, lies, lies]”

    • #23
    • August 13, 2019, at 5:23 PM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Unsk Member

    The real problem here is that we are dealing a very ruthless and blackhearted Dictatorship in China that has used technology to lock down it’s own citizens in a Orwellian Police State on steroids not even imaginable just a few years ago.

    Dictatorships like Red China are not threatened by demonstrations, sit ins and the like in the end, because the Dictatorship knows it’s rule on power is not threatened by these demonstrations. Demonstrations like we are seeing in Hong Kong only have an affect against governments where the people have power to resist and the power to determine who rules, which is not possible in China today. Earlier demonstrations decades ago when China was trying to get trade deals to boost it’s economy had an effect, but that was when the West could withhold something China wanted – lucrative trade deals and WTO membership. But even then when Bush I signaled through back channels that Tiananmen wasn’t really an impediment to moving forward, repression was given the green light.

    The real villains here are those that brought about what is likely to be a horrific repression of the people of Hong Kong, outside the Red Chinese themselves; the diplomats, politicians and the corrupt Crony Capitalist Corporatists like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and the US Chamber of Commerce who not only looked the other way time and again when Red China oppressed it’s people and violated every trade deal to the max stealing technology left and right, and using obscene predatory practices to crush foreign competition – these traitorous clowns also helped Red China develop it’s Orwellian Social Credit system that China is using to oppress the Chinese people and destroy Hong Kong.

    If only these traitorous corrupt Corporatists and the corrupt Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations had held Red China’s feet to the fire and insisted on compliance with Trade Agreements and the appropriate treatment of the Chinese People, Hong Kong might not be in the terrible fix it is in today. But those traitorous clowns took massive bribes and payoffs and instead allowed Red China to get far, far too powerful to the point where the Trade, Military and Human Rights situation has spiraled so far out of control that we have very little leverage to affect what is happening now in Hong Kong.

    Sundance is right; right now there is very little we can do to help Hong Kong. American Navy Ships have already been denied entry. We simply have no leverage to help Hong Kong. And no, we should not lessen the sanctions in some phony play to save Hong Kong. That is playing the Chinese game.

    The best thing we could do now is to bring the Chinese economy to it’s knees and see if the hundreds of millions of Chinese who have tasted the fruits of being middle class revolt and revoke Xi’s Mandate from Heaven as those fruits are destroyed.

    • #24
    • August 13, 2019, at 6:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Percival Thatcher

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Dictatorships like Red China are not threatened by demonstrations, sit ins and the like in the end, because the Dictatorship knows it’s rule on power is not threatened by these demonstrations.

    December 21, 1989: the day the dogs stopped eating the dog food.

    • #25
    • August 13, 2019, at 8:32 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Henry Castaigne Member

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Dictatorships like Red China are not threatened by demonstrations, sit ins and the like in the end, because the Dictatorship knows it’s rule on power is not threatened by these demonstrations. Demonstrations like we are seeing in Hong Kong only have an affect against governments where the people have power to resist and the power to determine who rules, which is not possible in China today.

    Then why are the Chinese Communists so utterly freaked out by the Tian-anmen massacre? Why do they work so hard to suppress everyone all the time if they are untouchable? I would suggest that it is because Red China understands that it still needs legitimacy. 

    • #26
    • August 14, 2019, at 3:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Unsk Member

    Henry: “Why do they work so hard to suppress everyone all the time if they are untouchable? 

    At a certain point when regimes begin to unravel, they are no longer untouchable. That is true. Percival also referenced the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, at a time that his benefactor, the Soviet Union was unraveling, to make the same point. But the people of Romania could not get to him before the whole of the Soviet Empire unraveled. But how long did that take and how many lives were lost before that happened?

    China has been wounded by Trump’s trade war for sure, but it is still much stronger than the Soviet Union was at any time, and has imposed a very effective system of state surveillance, unfortunately with the all too wiling help of the craven, power hungry American Big Tech Oligarchs, that makes revolution very difficult unless all the wheels are coming off, which they are no even close to doing yet. Hong Kong, by itself, has no chance, by demonstrations alone, to stop Chinese repression. They have no independent government, Chinese can assert control anytime it wants and outside powers can no little to stop it. The usual step of international sanctions won’t happen because China has paid off too much of the Globalist Elite for that to happen.

    “I would suggest that it is because Red China understands that it still needs legitimacy. “

    I would suggest Henry, that the time has long passed where China needs some sort of legitimacy bestowed by the Globalist Elite and the Globalist Diplomatic Power Brokers because China now has a huge amount of financial leverage over the Elite that normally would bestow that legitimacy. The game has changed. 126 Countries and 29 International organizations have signed on to China’s Belt and Road project as of April, and China in it’s BRI has put in some very nasty poison pills in those agreements if a Country chooses to get out. China is many ways owns or at least has some very nasty financial leverage over these Countries now even if they don’t know it yet.

    In many ways, Trump is going alone against China and is trying to form Alliances with those most likely to be hurt by China like South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam. It’s a very good thing that Trump was elected or otherwise if Hildebeast had been elected we would be in some very deep Kimchi as the Traitorous Bush I would say.

    • #27
    • August 14, 2019, at 8:09 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  28. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Dictatorships like Red China are not threatened by demonstrations, sit ins and the like in the end, because the Dictatorship knows it’s rule on power is not threatened by these demonstrations. Demonstrations like we are seeing in Hong Kong only have an affect against governments where the people have power to resist and the power to determine who rules, which is not possible in China today.

    Then why are the Chinese Communists so utterly freaked out by the Tian-anmen massacre? Why do they work so hard to suppress everyone all the time if they are untouchable? I would suggest that it is because Red China understands that it still needs legitimacy.

    A reasonable question. I would point out that a government can be nigh invulnerable and feel insecure. 

    • #28
    • August 14, 2019, at 9:06 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Unsk Member

    Henry: “I would point out that a government can be nigh invulnerable and feel insecure. “

    Agreed. A more rational dictator than Xi would have played his cards better. He fashions himself to be the new Mao, which in and of itself is more than a little deranged. Why did he have to go the Orwell on steroids route? Was he or is he that uncomfortable with dissent? Apparently so. He really can’t be seen now as backing down or otherwise it would appear that he has lost “face”- a grievous sin in China.

    From the Chinese point of view he showed his cards and his game way too early because if he had played the “Panda” face deftly along a few more years where we would not have been obliged to try to rein China’s bad behavior, while all the while he was making China stronger and stronger, we would have been in real trouble in a few years when we finally confronted the bad behavior. All that said the Hong Kong play is one of the few options he has left because the Chinese economy is shrinking badly and so the whole apparent social compact with the Chinese people that they will accept an autocrat if he makes the economy work is in peril. Trump is playing it close to the vest- we will see what he does.

    • #29
    • August 14, 2019, at 11:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Unsk Member

    According to Curtis Ellis at American Greatness, Kamala Harris has said she would end Trump tariffs on China.

    If true, you can kiss any diplomatic solution over Hong Kong good bye. Kamala has effectively told the Chinese – just make me President and your worries will go away. Why should the Chinese negotiate with President Trump when they are told that all they have to do is to get a Democrat elected? And you know how the Democrats feel about illicit Chinese campaign cash.

    The Chinese generally play the long game Sun Tsu style anyway , but my Senator Kamala has just told them to just wait another year and all their troubles will be over – and this happened with protestors in the streets fighting the Hong Kong police? She is also saying in a roundabout – wink, wink – way – don’t worry about the protestors we will work that out- all we need is a little pay to play payola like Traitor Joe Biden got and things will be peachy.

    • #30
    • August 14, 2019, at 12:09 PM PST
    • 4 likes