I am currently studying abroad in Taiwan and since coming to east Asia, the events that recently transpired here seem far less distant and much more tangible.
I have gotten to speak with several people from Hong Kong during the short amount of time I have already spent here. Once we became comfortable speaking to one another, I was eager to ask them about the elephant in the room – which is of course the fact that their home is currently ablaze with massive protests against the government of their Cantonese City-State. I was already fairly aware of the situation as I typically follow world events like this more so than the average person. But it wasn’t until I got to east Asia that I realized the true gravity of the situation.
The goals and purpose of the Hong Kong protests can be summarized by their stated five demands. I will summarize each one starting with the withdrawal of the extradition bill. The Hong Kong government, under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, passed a bill stating that, should a Hong Kong citizen be arrested, they may be sent to mainland China for trial where they will then be subject to the draconian and dystopian Soviet-modeled legal system where the individual has absolutely no rights guaranteed to them under law.
The second is to declassify the protests as riots. The third being to release and exonerate all arrested protestors. The fourth is to establish an independent commission to investigate widespread police brutality.
Finally, the fifth demand is for the implementation of full democracy in Hong Kong. Currently, the Chief Executive – the country’s equivalent of a president – is elected by an unelected “election committee” comprised of Beijing loyalists and big business representatives. While the legislative council is comprised of 70 members, 30 of which are unelected and required to be Beijing loyalists. So it only requires six elected officials to be loyal to Chinese dictator Xi Jinping to form a Communist majority. Currently 43 are considered pro-Beijing. That is not democracy in the slightest.
Supposedly Hong Kong operates under a doctrine of “one country two systems,” being simultaneously part of the People’s Republic of China but also under its own system of British influenced parliamentary democracy. However, everyone in Hong Kong, including those I have met in Asia whose identities I will never disclose for fear of their safety, realize that it is a sham. In reality, they have a “democratic” puppet government ruling over them that takes orders not from the people of Hong Kong, but instead from mainland China.
In actuality, the people of Hong Kong are protesting against the Chinese Communist Party’s government in Beijing who are attempting to fully integrate the region into the People’s Republic of China. This would mean nothing short of every freedom Hong Kongers have will be stripped away from them. They will no longer be allowed to express themselves as they choose, assemble when and where they want to assemble, have free and non government controlled media or even use Google. Not to mention, it would result in the destruction of their free market system.
It’s absolutely justified for these people to rise up in protest of their current situation. But unfortunately, there is only so much they can do without outside help. The Chinese “People’s Liberation Army” have moved thousands of soldiers into Hong Kong who are currently on standby. Ultimately the people can protest all they want, but in the end will be powerless to stand up to the second most powerful army in the world unarmed, and they know this. That is why the protestors are waving the flag of the one nation that can save them, the United States of America.
We Americans support a massive portion of the Chinese economy through buying their goods, so we can use economic leverage against them to force them to back down and possibly even grant Hong Kong independence. If we stopped buying their goods, China would collapse into unrest and they will not let that happen, so they will capitulate. Hong Kong is trying to trying to tell us this by signalling with our flag.
I have just two questions. Will we listen, and are we willing to do what it takes?
Miles Streicek is a junior studying finance and is involved with College Republicans on campus.