The Hong Kong Effect
"The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."
-Princess Leia, Star Wars Ep. IV
A little over a year ago I posted an article about Xi's apparent "New Years Resolution" for 2019: to bring Taiwan under the control of the PRC. In the year since then, however, far from expanding their control over one troublesome island, Beijing has found themselves struggling to hold onto one they already (sort of) had: Hong Kong. I've barely commented on the Hong Kong protests in this blog except for a brief entry in July because I wanted to wait and see how they played out in the long run. As it turns out, these protests have had more enduring effects than I could have imagined.
For one thing, Beijing's precious image as a "responsible Great Power" has taken such a beating from these protests that even the partially CPC-controlled media in Hong Kong has been unable to ignore it (Smith & Fallon, Pei). The protests have sullied Xi's reputation (or in many eyes including mine, the entire nation of China's reputation) (NY Post Editorial Board) by giving the world a reminder of Beijing's unwillingness to honor treaties (and contrary to Beijing's insistence, the 1997 handover agreement is, in fact, a treaty (Wu)). But for China, the protests (and Beijing's response to them) have produced a ripple effect that has hit the Beijing regime right where they were the most vulnerable.
First, Hong Kong
Predictably enough, China tried to blame the protests on the same bogeyman they blame for all their other problems: the United States, which they claimed had "brainwashed" the protesters (Global Times Staff). Given that they have attempted to blame the CIA for everything from the Tiananmen Square Protests to the Dalai Lama's break with Beijing to the year 2019's twin agricultural crises to China's current economic woes (Nakazawa), this comes as little surprise. What was surprising was the fact that they even went to the trouble to publish a timeline of absolutely circumstantial events which they swear is evidence of these utterly unsubstantiated claims (China Daily Staff).
When this "evidence" proved unsatisfactory for the international community, China's Foreign Ministry, in a rare moment of creativity, tried to say the lack of evidence of US involvement was proof of US involvement, insisting "as you all know, they are somehow the work of the US (Westscott)." Never mind the financial inconceivability of the US conjuring up the money to fund a movement of this scale (Huang). Just as predictable as the "blame the US" routine was China's internal response to the crisis: censorship (Mosher), violence (Palmer), and the threat of both judicial reprisal (Myers) and military action (Feng).
Nobody except Beijing (whose leaders are accustomed to 2,200 years of a spineless, cowardly population cringing at even a hint of rebuke from the Head of State) was surprised when Hong Kong's response to this crackdown was to push even harder, not only in protests but at the polls. Hong Kong's 2019 election, which was viewed in Hong Kong and Beijing as a litmus test of the HK population's support or non-support of the protesters, saw a record voter turnout (Sun (1)), and this record crowd of voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of Pro-Democracy (and anti-Beijing) candidates who sided with the protesters (Sun (2)).
This backlash against Beijing spread to another troublesome "China-but-not-China" area: the Nation of Taiwan.
Taiwan and Hong Kong share similar problems with Beijing, and Taiwan views Hong Kong as a fine example of why their way of life depends upon resisting the Mainland's incursions. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen has been diligent in pointing out that Beijing's crackdown on the HK protests proves this view (Lin). Indeed, the crackdown has forged a tight bond between the HKSAR and the self-ruled island (Horton). More importantly, Beijing's slap in the face during Hong Kong's election had an echo in Taiwan, where anti-Mainland candidate won an uncontested victory (Wye). It should come as little surprise that Taiwanese voters openly stated that the events in Hong Kong were the primary catalyst for this defiant middle finger erected in Beijing's direction (Strong). What makes this more noteworthy is that her running mate was openly pro-independence, which is a red line for the Mainland which Taiwan has never flirted with until now (Everington (1)).
This has prompted a predictable response from Beijing's puppet-media: insistences that such a bond has no future, with zero explanation of why this is supposedly the case other than insistences that Beijing "must" have its way (SCMP Editorial Board), coupled with a petulant reiteration of Beijing's insistence that the island -whose government was established in 1911- is a rebel province of the PRC -whose government was not established until 1949 (Hadano).
Here's where it gets interesting though.
Not only did Tsai and her pro-independence running-mate carry Taiwan's election by a staggering margin, but more than 60 countries called to congratulate her for it (Cheng), while China pouted impotently from the sidelines and muttered "she must have cheated (Everington (2))." For most of the past few decades, most of the world has kept their support for Taiwan's independence rather hushed, for fear of provoking the oversensitive Beijing regime into one of its characteristic hissy fits. Now though? The world seems to have gotten so sick of China's nonsense that they are willing to openly applaud when Taiwan sticks their finger in China's eye (Yang). And it is not difficult to see that the world's disapproval of Beijing's handling of the Hong Kong protests has been part of the reason.
It is normally bad form to end a research article by editorializing, but this is a blog, not a Master's Thesis. I, for one, am thrilled to see this. As I have repeatedly pointed out, the purpose of my blog here on Steemit has been to show the world three main points:
- China is evil to its core and always has been.
- China is weak.
- The illusion of strength is giving China a level of influence that it normally could not have from being so weak.
Ergo, it is with no small amount of personal satisfaction that I look at this state of affairs, watching the world brush China off like the unimportant throwback state they truly are, and smile. My work has not been in vain. China-watchers and "dragonslayers" like me are finally getting the world's attention, and the world is realizing Emperor Xi has no clothes. China's propaganda offensive is collapsing, and it goes well beyond the Chinese diaspora...
...But that is for another article.
Cheng, Ching-Tse. "60 Countries Have Congratulated Taiwan's President Tsai on Re-Election: MOFA." Taiwan News. 13 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3856092
China Daily Staff. "Timeline: External Interference in Hong Kong." https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201911/20/WS5dd4adbfa310cf3e35578b02.html
Everington, Keoni (1). "Lai Says Taiwan Already Independent, China Warns of 'Disaster'." Taiwan News. 22 Nov, 2019. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3822404
Everington, Keoni (2). "China Cries Foul After 60 Countries Congratulate Taiwan's President Tsai on Re-Election." Taiwan News. 13 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3856265
Feng, Emily. "As Hong Kong Protests Continue, China's Response Is Increasingly Ominous." NPR. 13 Aug, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2019/08/13/750695968/as-hong-kong-protests-continue-chinas-response-is-increasingly-ominous
Global Times Staff. "Traitors Seek to Separate Hong Kong and Fuel Street Violence." Global Times. 29 July, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1159595.shtml
Hadano, Tsukasa. "Beijing Reiterates 'One China' After Tsai's Taiwan Election Win." Nikkei Asian Review. 12 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Taiwan-elections/Beijing-reiterates-One-China-after-Tsai-s-Taiwan-election-win
Huang, Paul. "How Much Would It Cost for the CIA to 'Create' the Hong Kong Protests?" The News Lens International. 23 Aug, 2019. Web. 15 Jan. 2020. https://international.thenewslens.com/feature/hkantielab/123878
Horton, Chris. "Hong Kong and Taiwan Are Bonding Over China." 5 July, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/07/china-bonds-between-hong-kong-and-taiwan-are-growing/593347/
Lin Chia-Nan. "HK Proves ‘Two Systems’ Model a Failure, Tsai says." Taipei Times 21 Aug, 2019. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2019/08/21/2003720849
Mosher, Steven W. "Hong Kong Protests Have Sparked a New Level of Chinese Paranoia." New York Post. 6 July, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://nypost.com/2019/07/06/hong-kong-protests-have-sparked-a-new-level-of-chinese-paranoia/
Myers, Steven Lee. "In Warning to Hong Kong’s Courts, China Shows Who Is Boss." 20 Nov, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/world/asia/hong-kong-protests-china-courts.html
Nakazawa, Katsuji. "China Crowns Xi With Special Title, Citing Rare Crisis." Nikkei Asian Review 9 Jan, 2020. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/China-up-close/China-crowns-Xi-with-special-title-citing-rare-crisis
NY Post Editorial Board. "Hong Kong’s Crisis is a Lesson in How Beijing Honors its Promises." New York Post. 18 Nov, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://nypost.com/2019/11/18/hong-kongs-crisis-is-a-lesson-in-how-beijing-honors-its-promises/
Palmer, James. "Hong Kong’s Violence Will Get Worse." Foreign Policy. 11 Nov, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/11/police-killing-protests-beijing-lam-xi-hong-kong-violence-will-get-worse/
Pei, Minxin. "Xi Jinping Can Blame His Centralisation of Power for a Rotten 2019 – and Maybe an Even Worse 2020." 17 Dec, 2019. Web, 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3042392/xi-jinping-can-blame-his-centralisation-power-rotten-2019-and-maybe
SCMP Editorial Board. "Future of Hong Kong Does Not Lie With Taiwan." South China Morning Post. 16 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3046430/future-hong-kong-does-not-lie-taiwan
Smith, Nicholas Ross & Fallon, Tracey. "China Cannot Just Rely on its Economic Might to Silence the Growing Army of Critics." South China Morning Post. 27 Dec, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3043543/china-cannot-just-rely-its-economic-might-silence-growing-army
Strong, Matthew. "Hong Kong Protests Biggest Influence on Taiwan Elections: Poll." Taiwan News. 16 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3858673
Sun, Nikki (1). "Record Turnout in First Hong Kong Election Since Protests Began." Nikkei Asian Review. 24 Nov, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Hong-Kong-protests/Record-turnout-in-first-Hong-Kong-election-since-protests-began
Sun, Nikki (2). "Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Camp Wins Elections in Landslide." Nikkei Asian Review. 25 Nov, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Hong-Kong-protests/Hong-Kong-pro-democracy-camp-wins-elections-in-landslide
Westscott, Ben. "China is Blaming the US for the Hong Kong Protests. Can That Really Be True?" CNN. 1 Aug, 2019. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/31/asia/us-china-hong-kong-interference-intl-hnk/index.html
Wu, Venus. "China Says Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong No Longer has Meaning." Reuters. 30 Jun, 2017. Web. 15 Jan, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hongkong-anniversary-china/china-says-sino-british-joint-declaration-on-hong-kong-no-longer-has-meaning-idUSKBN19L1J1
Wye, Rod. "Tsai's Massive Victory in Taiwan Confounds and Embarrasses China." Nikkei Asian Review. 15 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Tsai-s-massive-victory-in-Taiwan-confounds-and-embarrasses-China
Yang, Sophia. "European Parliament Passes Pro-Taiwan Resolutions." 16 Jan, 2020. Web. 16 Jan, 2020. https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3858428
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As the United States wins the economic war with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan call for democracy.
patriamreminisci , Will you leave China because it is hard to live in China?
I already left China. I've been in Texas for two weeks and it's extremely unlikely I'll ever go back except to collect some of my things, which I left with a friend.
patriamreminisci, Are the Chinese anti-American feelings so severe?
It is amazing that you have lived through the hostility of the Chinese people.
I hate the hypocrisy, vanity and cruelty of the Chinese.
They are not really "anti-American," but more like "anti-foreign." That is a trend in their culture that has risen and fallen over the centuries, but it is always there. Sometimes it is under the surface and sometimes (like now) it is out in the open.
The weird thing is one-on-one, they are friendly and even curious about foreign countries (most of the time).
But in groups? Collective thinking brings on a remarkable change and they become a hostile hive, even more-so than most groups.
The Chinese admire American culture, but hate American nation.
Meh, the only thing they admire about America is its power, which they envy. That wasn't always the case, but it is lately.
It has long been my opinion that the more overtly and physically an entity executes force, the less power that entity has. Force, in many contexts, includes propaganda, disinformation, surveillance, and institutional/legal constraints. That China is not without power at all is revealed by the fact the HK election was not just faked. That China's power over HK is insufficient to rule it is revealed by the election results, however, and this is both good and bad.
It is good because people deserve to be free. HK reveals it has some degree of freedom by it's election. It is bad because history has proved that murderous violence and genocide creates tyrannical power, which is clearly China's goal. That is the nature of Chinese government on the mainland IMHO, and your Princess Leia quote telling regarding the nature of government and social optimization. The more powerful government is, the less it needs to impose it's will on free people.
Sadly, we see not only in China increasing surveillance, repression, propaganda, and lawfare imposing force on free people, but across the West as well, perhaps most egregiously in the US. An almost incomprehensible dichotomy between the nature of government today and during my youth a couple generations ago has eventuated, and youth today generally cannot even conceive of the degree of autonomy and self-rule that was SOP previously. The same effect applies to myself, and the autonomy and self-rule of people prior to the World Wars isn't apparent to me, raised in the '60s and '70s.
This is not to glorify the good old days unreservedly, as that ignores advancing technology and societal benefits derived therefrom, but technological advance is not dependent on tyranny at all, and it is necessary to decouple one from the other to reasonably grasp the relative costs and benefits that have been effected by government in the recent history of the US, the West, and the world. In other words pointing out that we were far more free before we were ubiquitously surveilled, disinformed through covert governmental propaganda mills, and subjected to armed force to compel our submission to increasingly detailed behavioural standards is not claiming that we would be better off dying from parasites and disease, communicating by written documents transported by the pony express, or any other technological regression.
Government and tyranny is not the source of technological advance, and despite that we see both have increased in the last century, they are not dependent on each other. Indeed, I believe they in fact are diametrically opposed. I observe that technological advance increases individual freedom/power, while increasing tyranny reduces technological advance. There is a tension between the two, and I believe this is the reason the West has become increasingly tyrannical as technology has advanced, in order to preserve the privilege of the ruling class as technological advance has eroded it.
I find this relevant to HK and Taiwan's resistance to Chinese mainland governmental control, and particularly because both HK and Taiwan have long been hot spots of technological and industrial advance relative to China, and the prosperity and felicity of their peoples has reflected that civilized state. Their conditions contrast markedly with those of ordinary Chinese peoples, despite recent improvements I suspect have come to the Chinese subsequent to the reduction in oppression that was undertaken in the '90s.
I hope and think that HK and Taiwan will influence China to reduce it's tyrannical oppression and improve the standard of living of it's people, rather than that China will impose it's despotism on them. This can only result from increasing technological advance that surpasses governmental oppression maintaining the privilege of the ruling class, and since that is my hope and intention for the whole world, I reckon HK a weathervane regarding that storm.
I am grateful you have endured the terrible governmental impositions and hardships to report your experiences in China, as your blog has been a unique window on that ongoing process. I am sad that such deprivation and suffering has been necessary for that to happen, but appreciate that you have told your story as you could.
valued-customer , Your writing is poetic and difficult to understand in Korean, but you seem to argue that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will continue to hostile.
I think Hong Kong and Taiwan are opposed to China, hoping for US support.
Because of foreign currencies entering China through Hong Kong, the Chinese government will partially allow Hong Kong's autonomy.
However, Taiwan is likely to be hostile to China because it wants to be an American ally.
You are closer to these matters than I. You are far more familiar with the politics, economics, and social issues in the region than I, far across the sea.
However, Taiwan is likely to want to be free, regardless of whether the US is an ally or not, IMHO. Uighurs are suffering damnation in China today, and Taiwan is not unaware of this.
Democratization and freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan will eventually require US assistance.
Korea is a small country that China ignores.
It is good for the ant to be ignored by the elephant. Regarding US assistance, sometimes the worst thing that can happen is to get what you want. I would not recommend becoming a nation the US has assisted given the circumstances recent beneficiaries of such attention enjoy.
I don't think the US should assist any harder on China's doorstep either.
You are right America's excessive interference can make China more angry. Nevertheless, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan will become US allies if the US checks China.
I believe all three are current US allies. I do agree that due to their geographical location, China strongly affects their policies.
I am waiting for the day when China wake up from their bubble, hopefully the world will be a much better place then.
How's Texas treating you?
Safe, happy, slow, and dull. :-P