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Countdown to 2047: The Death of Hong Kong?

AlvinofDiaspar

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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.
If you haven't noticed, they have already gotten away, protest or no protest. Let's not kid ourselves with the importance of this temporary sideshow that seemingly reinforces our notion of good guys, bad guys and not ask ourselves the more difficult question of how we got here in the first place.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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You're taking a rather pessimistic view of this. There are likelihoods, but nothing is guaranteed to go as planned.

I think that the protests have already delegitimizated the SAR government, and while China can wait out the protests (Hong Kong is only a small percentage of the economy), the actual presence of unfettered protests supported by a good percentage of the local population forms an irritating ideological thorn in the perception and credibility of the CPC government (going back to the CPC paranoia of opposing ideologies).

At the same time, marching in the police would put another dent in the 'peaceful global ascension' that the CPC has been careful to cultivate over the last few decades after Tiananmen- which is already tarnished by perceptions of credibility. (And there's also the converging debt and economic issues as well)

I would say that the Chinese will likely attempt to manage the situation via a slow bleeding of the protest movement (via incarceration), as well as a sustained PR push to delegitimize the protesters (again going back to the typical desire for the status-quo by the population, see recent PR and Tycoon statements as an attempt to appeal to this nature).

Overall- Hong Kong will emerge changed- but it only takes a mistep by the CPC that could inadvertently damage it as well.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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You're taking a rather pessimistic view of this. There are likelihoods, but nothing is guaranteed to go as planned.

I think that the protests have already delegitimizated the SAR government, and while China can wait out the protests (Hong Kong is only a small percentage of the economy), the actual presence of unfettered protests supported by a good percentage of the population forms an irritating ideological thorn in the perception and credibility of the CPC government (going back to the CPC paranoia of opposing ideologies).

At the same time, marching in the police would put another dent in the 'peaceful global ascension' that the CPC has been careful to cultivate over the last few decades after Tiananmen- which is already tarnished by perceptions of credibility. (And there's also the converging debt and economic issues as well)

I would say that the Chinese will likely attempt to manage the situation via a slow bleeding of the protest movement (via incarceration), as well as a sustained PR push to delegitimize the protesters (again going back to the typical desire for the status-quo by the population, see recent PR and Tycoon statements as an attempt to appeal to this nature).

Overall- Hong Kong will emerge changed- but it only takes a mistep by the CPC for things to go differently as planned.
Yes, let’s play coy about being pessimistic when the ultimate question is - so what? You are interested in how this will make CPC look. I don’t give a shit how they look - my default assumption is that they will pull shit like this, whether it happens in year 1 or 10 or 51 is academic - what I care about is how will Hongers fare. These events are not there to reinforce one’s interpretation of the world.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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If you're being pessimistic and so-whatting the whole movement- how would you expect things to turn out for the people?

I'd like to see your take on this question you're asking.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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If you're being pessimistic and so-whatting the whole movement- how would you expect things to turn out for the people?

I'd like to see your take on this question you're asking.
Easy - it is already too late, and this movement wouldn’t have made an iota of a difference at this juncture. It maybe gratifying to see protests and the CE hiding in her shell, but the trajectory is set, If you want to see real change it would have to be endogenous from mainland China in the future, and HK might be nothing but a footnote in that process, when it occurs in whatever form it does. I wouldn’t count the days if I were you though.

What I do foresee is increasing out migration of those with the wherewithal to do so, and those who can’t are subjected to the dictates, as they have always been. As the saying goes “the horse(racing) will keep running and the dancers will keep dancing”, but real political reform? Forget about it.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Let's not kid ourselves with the importance of this temporary sideshow that seemingly reinforces our notion of good guys, bad guys and not ask ourselves the more difficult question of how we got here in the first place.
The blunt answer is that China is a totalitarian government that still acts like a pre-WW2 nationalist state, where all actions are calculated to largely benefit it and its people, while all other countries are considered subordinates (see how they essentially talked down India regarding a possible Huawei ban).

Western Liberal democracies have essentially appeased this nature of governance in a show of good faith- while failing to understand that China operates on its own internal set of rules different from written agreements. The public face matters, but behind that, anything goes.

This is how China gets away with forced tech transfers, and other relatively uncompetitive actions, and how they're able to insert economic hooks into a country to make confronting them difficult- while also exploiting the human desires of greed and stability, the scattered attention of liberal democracy and postcolonial theory to prevent a strong, coordinated civic response.

Fundamentally, what happens to the CPC is important- that if they emerge unscathed from the dismantling of Hong Kong's civic society and its human rights, it symbolizes that China's might makes right, and that the current course is to be continued.

Just a few instances of China using its economic clout as a club:
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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The blunt answer is that China is a totalitarian government that still acts like a pre-WW2 nationalist state, where all actions are calculated to largely benefit it and its people, while all other countries are considered subordinates (see how they essentially talked down India regarding a possible Huawei ban).

Western Liberal democracies have essentially appeased this nature of governance in a show of good faith- while failing to understand that China operates on its own internal set of rules different from written agreements.

This is how China gets away with forced tech transfers, and other relatively uncompetitive actions, and how they're able to insert economic hooks into a country to make confronting them difficult- while also exploiting the human desires of greed and stability, the scattered attention of liberal democracy and postcolonial theory to prevent a strong, coordinated civic response.

Fundamentally, what happens to the CPC is important- that if they emerge unscathed from the dismantling of Hong Kong's civic society and its human rights, it's a symbol that might makes right, and that the current course is to be continued.
Please, don't be naive. The UK government went into the negotiations in the 80s (and feelers in the 60s and 70s) with the eyes wide open - they were never that interested in a confrontation over a people they ultimately have no interest in taking responsibilities over. And need I remind you are now talking about Hong Kong as a proxy of these other issues - and not as a matter in and of itself. Be honest - if those other issues weren't around, would you have availed yourself to the plight of Hong Kong?

We "fight" for Hong Kong (from the safety of our living room), because the CPC is unjust, totalitarian and a bully! But they've always had a fairly atrocious - if not anti-democratic history, what had we done to support Hong Kong before then? Maybe insist the UK they should not have given it back, perhaps? Haha.

Let me be blunt - what you are doing is basically employing a distant people as a pawn for your own geopolitical struggles (as valid as that struggle maybe).

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Don't know why you're so accusative when I'm just offering my personal observations.

Yes, the UK government knew well at the time that the current status quo could not continue, and that they were handing off Hong Kong to the CPC, and yes, the UK ultimately had no will to fix the system (even as they tried in the 80s to introduce a level of democracy)- but I would say that the mood at the time was that the opening up of China- and the fact that they agreed to a SAR at all despite being entirely justified in integrating Hong Kong immediately- gave hope that China was going down the route of liberalization, rather than the route it's taking today.

So there was a glimmer of hope that China was acting in good faith when it signed the agreements as the nature of the country was evolving.

Those of us who thought we knew the region had a good chuckle. That Fortune essay seemed so silly because, for many locals, and for the multitude of foreign correspondents here at the time, including myself, the exact opposite seemed true. Beijing desperately wanted — needed — what Hong Kong had: wealth, stability, good relations with the world. What did Beijing have that Hong Kong wanted? Nothing. China was not about to change Hong Kong; Hong Kong was going to change China.

Much of the talk then was of “convergence .” Hong Kong boasted a freewheeling capitalist system underpinned by an independent judiciary, a largely unshackled press and basic individual freedoms. China, meanwhile, was still a nominally communist dictatorship just a few years removed from massacring pro-democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. But China was changing rapidly in the ’90s, becoming wealthier, freer, more urban and eventually, many thought, more democratic.

Surely Hong Kong’s liberalism, respect for human rights and relatively open (if not democratic) political system would prove irresistible to the mainland. It would be a great test for the end-of-history theory — the idea that the arc of human government bends toward liberal democracy. One New York Times columnist, writing about the handover in 1997, suggested that China was inheriting “a colossal Trojan horse” that in time could undermine the entire communist regime.

And of course I care about how China is dismantling civic society in Hong Kong, I don't know why you'd accuse me of not caring.

By accusing me of treating Hong Kong as a pawn of a geopolitical war, you're ignoring the wider pattern of moves that the CPC has taken, and my opinion as to why our countries- like Canada and the US seem so absolutely impotent in facing them.

There's very little that can be done on a personal level beyond offering material and empathetic support to the protesters (which has been done)- the only thing that can really affect the CPC is on the macroeconomic and geopolitical level.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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No offense, but I think as someone from Hong Kong who is part of the out migration prior to 97 I think I know the topic at hand with a bit more on the ground knowledge and "interest". And sorry for being utterly cynical, but politics and foreign policy don't operate on hopes and prayers - and one'd be fool to believe in hopes and prayers afters 89., I'd think. Your assertion that's the MO for the decisions is also wishful thinking - and so is quoting fin-de-siecle media report which is pure myopia (and even that piece noted - no one believed that things won't change). And no, the UK didn't really introduce meaningful democracy until direct elections of the Legislative Council in 95, 2 years before the handover. You know, it's hard not to be cynical when one knows these facts.

I didn't ignore the wider moves - I am just being realistic about the interest of the west vis-a-vis China - Hong Kong is a non-issue that would have been given away like it was in the 80s if it ever came to the discussion table, and one can't blame them - at this point they have an even better reason - the die is already cast, there is no reasonable bargaining chip for something you have no realistic hope of enforcing.

As to one's personal actions - empathetic support is worthless, so whatever; materiel, not so much, but I highly, highly doubt anyone is selfless enough at this point to want to lose their job over some fight they wouldn't know the ending to. I mean geez, they have a hard enough time going about their way of not buying anything made in China and sold in Walmart.

AoD
 
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jje1000

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Well at this point I can just say that our opinions diverge.

Thanks for the good talk though.
 

kEiThZ

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I recently watched an Australian documentary on Hong Kong. I never knew how bad it was over there.

Now the protests really make sense to me. These young people really have nothing to lose. They have nothing to live for or hope for. And the place sounds like some Ayn Rand fantasy where the poor live in cages and the rich simply dictate to pliant government mandarins.

It’s a dangerous situation. And I don’t know how it doesn’t end in violence this time or at the next big protest.
 

jje1000

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Cathay Pacific CEO quits amid Hong Kong storm


Add onto that pressure from the CPC against the big four accounting firms:


Hong Kong's position as a place of business neutrality may be coming to an end- anyone looking to start or expand operations are definitely taking a second look now.

Also looking at the international counter-protests (which are unusually agressive and crude, and probably organized by the United Front), it's fascinating how the concept that the CPC = China is so deeply ingrained in those people's minds.

It's not a good look for China, and even the official messaging is mostly tone-deaf, but it's likely intended for internal consumption anyways.
 
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Johnny Au

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And the place sounds like some Ayn Rand fantasy where the poor live in cages and the rich simply dictate to pliant government mandarins.
There was once Kowloon Walled City in the mainland part of Hong Kong:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon Walled City

At one point, it was the most densely populated neighbourhood in the world! In 1990, it had as many as 50,000 people in only 2.6 ha of land; the population density was over 1.25 million people per square kilometre.

It has since been demolished and converted into a park.
 
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AlbertC

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jje1000

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So the Extradition Bill has been proposed to be withdrawn. Still a long ways to go, and with multiple avenues for trickery along the way.

I personally don't believe that this is the end we'll see of that, and may very much be linked to desires by Beijing to smooth over discontent leading up to the Oct 1 CPC Central Committee Meeting.

Also another interesting thing to look out for is the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act bill which is making its way through the US Congress- could have some potential implications as a quasi-Magnitsky Act.




Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to withdraw extradition bill



I think the lingering problem is that Hong Konger's trust of their institutions has been shattered. While Hong Kong never had a true democracy, it had institutions that seemed impartial, effective and fair, in contrast to Mainland China and elsewhere.

All that's now put to the question, and further questions about the future of Hong Kong are being raised, meaning that long-term human and capital investment may be in question. As a result, I think many are still pushing for the Five Demands made by the protesters be met in order to restore some faith in the city's institutions and political system.

As I've said before- there were many ways the problem could have been diffused before. If the bill had been withdrawn within the first few weeks, the majority of the public would be been entirely satisfied with maybe two or three of the demands met- a return to the status quo. But with the hand of the CPC exposed, I think many are now seeing this as a life-or-death fight in terms of the city's future.
 
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