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Countdown to 2047: The Death of Hong Kong?

Johnny Au

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Reading the quotes from that article that suspects foreign influence from China make it indeed sound almost cartoonishly propagandistic. Maybe it's something in translation, but it sounds like what you'd expect a troll from abroad to stereotypically sound like, talking about "blood" and "homeland", rather than something grassroots from a local Canadian community.
It's akin to the Chinese counterpart of the alt-right.
 

jje1000

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Interesting take- would definitely agree that the good days from the early 2000s-mid-2010s (when the general mood was more optimistic and China was reemerging onto the world stage) is over- especially if Trump wins in 2020 and continues to apply pressure on China. That's perhaps why they're making their moves now while the times are still relatively smooth-going:


A good take on Hong Kong:
It’s as if Hong Kong is now unmoored, so fast have the old ways unravelled
Louisa Lim and Ilaria Maria Sala Sun 28 Jul 2019 06.16 BST
Within the space of two months, Hong Kong has remade itself into something profoundly discombobulating for its residents. Its civil service, once feted for its neutrality and professionalism, has been left floundering and riven by dissent, as hundreds of civil servants threaten industrial action if the administration continues to ignore demands to withdraw the controversial extradition bill that sparked the crisis. The judiciary, once considered neutral and impartial, has been handing down sentences that call its independence into question. The police force, once touted as Asia’s finest, is widely hated, while Hong Kong’s reputation as the world’s safest city has been undermined.
It is as if Hong Kong has come unmoored and the unspoken social contracts that govern life no longer hold true. The unanchoring of this city is reflected in a mass mental health crisis for residents thrown into this sudden new reality. The fallout is eroding the very institutions that distinguish Hong Kong from mainland China. So how did things unravel so quickly in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, most orderly, most law-abiding cities?
The eye of the storm is the still, silent centre of an administration that has withdrawn into itself, refusing public dialogue with protesters or students. Its initial mistake – which kicked off the firestorm of protests – was attempting to ram through legislation that would allow Beijing to extradite anyone accused of a serious criminal offence to face trial in China. In an attempt to expedite the process, the government shrank the consultation period and ignored the correct legislative process, sparking massive public outrage. After more than a million people attended the first round of marches, the Hong Kong government has seemed to disappear from view.

The inaction of the administration has left the police, normally the agency of last resort, as the only public interface between the authorities and those they govern. That “contact” has increasingly taken the form of teargas, rubber bullets and bean bags fired at the people, as a hard core of radical protesters have stayed on after peaceful marches have dispersed, occupying streets and besieging government offices. On 1 July, they even stormed Hong Kong’s legislative council, desecrating emblems linked to China. A recent survey shows that more than 80% of marchers are sympathetic to such actions, indicating widespread radicalisation. In a rare move, the police banned one march, increasing fears that the city’s cherished freedoms are under threat.
Lam’s language has also raised hackles in Hong Kong, by blatantly adopting the political rhetoric of the mainland. After protesters defaced the national emblem of Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, she accused them of “hurting the feelings” of 1.4 billion Chinese people and of challenging Beijing’s sovereignty. Such phrases are completely alien to the political lexicon of Hong Kong. More predictably, Beijing has been shrill, angrily blaming “foreign forces” for the unrest and issuing veiled threats that the People’s Liberation Army could be called in to restore order.

The breakdown in governance has undermined the administration’s performance legitimacy, while Hongkongers, through their acts of civil disobedience, have shown they are withdrawing their consent to be governed. In truth, that consent was always resting on the promise of future political reform and the well-worn mantra of “one country, two systems”. But the past 22 years under Chinese rule have shown that this formula was never an equation: one country always took precedence over two systems.

Another perspective on Xi and China:
There are three pillars to the Chinese government, the so called "tripod". The Communist Party, the actual government of the country and its bureaucracy, and the military. Ever since Mao died they have made dead sure that only one man is in charge of each part. So the General Secretary of the Communist Party would not be President, and neither would be the ultimate authority in the military chain of command. Or at least they were. Xi now holds all three positions simultaneously. It gives him enormous power, but at the same time restrains his ability to distance himself from any failure. So when Vietnam gave the Chinese a spanking in 1979, Deng Xioping who was Chief of General Staff at the time could take responsibility while the General Secretary of the Party could claim to not be fully responsible. It would also prevent a return to the bad old days of Mao's cult of personality.

Well, all of that is eroded now. Xi has limited his ability to save face, while at the same time made it so that ANYTHING that goes wrong reflects on him personally, not just on a portion of the State.
More power, more risk. I would say that the CPC's unspoken social contract with its people is that, in exchange for continuous improvements in living conditions and national growth, a blind eye is turned towards human rights and freedoms- as a 'ends-justifies-the-means' sort of deal. Will it pay off? What about the debt, or the US wising up to its trade habits? I think the next year will be 'interesting' times for everyone.

On another note- I do wonder when the CPC will make their move in Hong Kong, as they've apparently been massing troops on the border and have released a dramatic video:
 
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Towered

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Maybe we'll have another massacre on our hands - it's been 30 years since the last major one.

I don't like Trump at all, but it's nice to see him keep ratcheting up the pressure on these creeps.
 

TrickyRicky

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I believe Hong Kong will continue on after full integration as a relatively prosperous port City; however, it’s time in the sun is over. China really doesn’t need Hong Kong any more. It would likely be the third or so most significant City in the eventual metroplex and it would loose much of it’s purpose as an international gateway and intermediary. For those Hong Kongers who value western values or even the status quo it’s time to start relocation. China doesn’t need to go in guns blazing, they can just threaten Hong Kong with irrelevance. An irrelevance that is likely eventually assured anyways
 

jje1000

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I believe Hong Kong will continue on after full integration as a relatively prosperous port City; however, it’s time in the sun is over. China really doesn’t need Hong Kong any more. It would likely be the third or so most significant City in the eventual metroplex and it would loose much of it’s purpose as an international gateway and intermediary. For those Hong Kongers who value western values or even the status quo it’s time to start relocation. China doesn’t need to go in guns blazing, they can just threaten Hong Kong with irrelevance. An irrelevance that is likely eventually assured anyways

Like what some people said- it's death via cobra bite vs death via boa constrictor.

What's better?
 

Northern Light

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This is an article from the National Post that is tangentially on point.

Its really looking at the broader spectrum of issues facing China and Xi; but links that to the current Hong Kong situation. Worth a perusal.

 

AlvinofDiaspar

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I believe Hong Kong will continue on after full integration as a relatively prosperous port City; however, it’s time in the sun is over. China really doesn’t need Hong Kong any more. It would likely be the third or so most significant City in the eventual metroplex and it would loose much of it’s purpose as an international gateway and intermediary. For those Hong Kongers who value western values or even the status quo it’s time to start relocation. China doesn’t need to go in guns blazing, they can just threaten Hong Kong with irrelevance. An irrelevance that is likely eventually assured anyways
It is unavoidable - the very thing that make Hong Kong successful economically (proximity to, and dependence on mainland China - as an entrepot - later a source of local and foreign financial capital) is the very thing that will eventually spell its' downfall. No one should be surprised by this.

As to Xi, he is merely continuing the historical norm of authoritarian rule in China; and lack of economic growth and improvement in living standards has never been a reliable mechanism for regime change, so I wouldn't count on that now whether he gets blamed or not. Social contract is a nice thing, but let's not pretend it ever mattered - besides the fact that it wilts under the application of power.

AoD
 
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lenaitch

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I believe Hong Kong will continue on after full integration as a relatively prosperous port City; however, it’s time in the sun is over. China really doesn’t need Hong Kong any more. It would likely be the third or so most significant City in the eventual metroplex and it would loose much of it’s purpose as an international gateway and intermediary. For those Hong Kongers who value western values or even the status quo it’s time to start relocation. China doesn’t need to go in guns blazing, they can just threaten Hong Kong with irrelevance. An irrelevance that is likely eventually assured anyways
But can they help themselves? As McParland says in Northern Light's post, "ambition and the consolidation of power", not to mention China's desire to be seen as a strong, powerful state on the world stage that is not to be trifled with.
 

jje1000

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Interesting article regarding the reaction to the Union Jacks that have appeared occasionally during the protests:

Why Postcolonial Theory Is Not Helping Hong Kong
Posted onJuly 17, 2019 by Melissa Chen
The protesters in Hong Kong, much like the women who risk imprisonment and torture by removing their hijabs in theocratic Iran, are demanding the freedoms that we in the West take for granted. Instead of seeing us stand alongside their causes in solidarity, they see us divided by arguments and accusations that are directly hostile to their fight against oppression. The postcolonial, intersectional perspective paints products of cultures as fixed, static categories, wedded to immutable characteristics such as ethnicity and identity. The critics intone that Hong Kongers are ethnically Chinese after all, and they should “stay in their lane” and not hanker for values that are deemed “Eurocentric” or “Western.” This concept, happily reinforced by pro-CCP forces and wielded to peg pro-democracy supporters as “race traitors,” denies universal aspirations and interests to those in Hong Kong agitating for the ideals of freedom and human dignity. Cultural essentialism, as it turns out, endorses the divisions of orientalism rather than cures them.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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I am not that inclined to blame everything on colonialism (in the typical "everything western is bad because it is colonial" type) - though you do have to ask the question - if "the West" (particularly the colonial power at the time, UK) is that sincere about democracy, human rights and whatnot, how come it didn't insist on implementation of democratic reforms sooner (and to the point of having an elected governor, which never happened at that); and why didn't it give people from Hong Kong the right to abode in the UK, knowing that China have no record of upholding personal rights and freedoms as they were enjoyed in Hong Kong? To complain about it now when one is not in a position to do anything concrete about it while having abrogated the responsibility when one was in a position to do so is just about as colonial (or shall I say, realpolitik) as it gets - and it allowed China to make the argument of why they should be doing something that the UK didn't do as a colonial power.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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TBH, I think most Hong Kongers wouldn't mind living under the status-quo the British offered- guaranteed freedom of expression, protected personal rights, and a relatively efficient and impartial government/judicial system that stops short of a true democracy.

After all, it's essentially what Singapore offers, and it's suited both cities well, compared to the messy, unpredictable and ethnically-driven majoritarian democracies of their neighbours (i.e. Malaysia).

What they are protesting now is the erosion of even those limited rights as Beijing begins to impress its will on the city. Ironically, I think in this case, a real democracy may have been more resilient to far-away political meddling.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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TBH, I think most Hong Kongers wouldn't mind living under the status-quo the British offered- guaranteed freedom of expression, protected personal rights, and a relatively efficient and impartial government/judicial system that stops short of a true democracy.

After all, it's essentially what Singapore offers, and it's suited both cities well, compared to the messy, unpredictable and ethnically-driven majoritarian democracies of their neighbours (i.e. Malaysia).

What they are protesting now is the erosion of even those limited rights as Beijing begins to impress its will on the city. Ironically, I think in this case, a real democracy may have been more resilient to far-away political meddling.
That's not what Hong Kongers are asking for, and unlike Malaysia, there is not much "ethnically-driven" majoritarian anything to speak of there - it is not a multi-ethnic city state. I found it slightly ironic that we are talking about democracy on one hand, and don't hesitate to prescribe "what works best for them" on the other - i.e. not democracy. It is precisely this attitude that lead to the current predicament of the local population - they are never masters of their own house, much less than own destiny.

And it is doubly ironic to use Singapore as an example - given it is about as authoritarian as it gets (albeit it well-run and successful for the moment). Surely, you don't consider that to be an appropriate response to the democratic urges of the population? To add on top of that - Singapore is also a sovereign state that was the broader outcome of decolonialization (and eventual self-government, federation and defederation from Malaysia) - the people legitimately chose that course of action. Hong Kong was a crown colony till the very end.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Yes, and initial protests were primarily against the extradition bill, but the lack of action by the government and its use of police as its main public interface with the protesters (as per the Guardian article above) has radicalized the population and laid bare the failings of the SAR government over the last two decades- which is why the five protester demands now call for far more than what the original protests were about.

I'm not taking a stance on democracy (these are just observations), but it's like what I said before- if Beijing was so inclined to actually follow the terms of the agreement and not infringe on the status quo, none of this would have happened with its current ferocity.

In the majority of revolutionary cases, most people just want to live in peace, and only take action when pushed up against the brink (singular action and the limits of frustration). I'd wager that many people don't particularly think about government- until it ceases to work (a reason why many people take their rights for granted).

Frog and boiling water, I say.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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Yes, and initial protests were primarily against the extradition bill, but the lack of action by the government and its use of police as its main public interface with the protesters (as per the Guardian article above) has radicalized the population and laid bare the failings of the SAR government over the last two decades- which is why the five protester demands now call for far more than what the original protests were about.

It's like what I said before- if the Beijing was inclined to actually follow the terms of the agreement and not infringe on the status quo, none of this would have happened with its current intensity. In the majority of revolutionary cases, most people just want to live in peace, and only take action when pushed up against the brink. Frog and boiling water, I say.
You are just kicking the can down the road by taking this unrealistic stance. 50 years is an arbitrary figure, and we all know that the agreement is fairly meaningless post-handover. A state that isn't willing to stand up for its' citizens (and they were, for better for not, British citizens in the broadest sense) when it could aren't going to stand up for them when it couldn't. So what is one going to do about it, eh? Offer them moral support? Find a coalition of democratic nations to offer anyone who wants it the right to emigrate? Let's get *real* here - all that chest puffing is posturing when you aren't willing to back it up with meaningful actions.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Again, these are observations, but I think that Beijing could have potentially gotten away with it if they had stuck to a do-nothing route and simply continued down the road of increased cultural/economic integration with the mainland and the dilution of the existing population through in-migration from the mainland.

Of course, the Communists meddled too much and we are here now.

I think the protests were a conversation that needed to happen- China is retreating from the envisioned liberalization in the late 1990s, and the future of the city needs to be questioned.
 

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