A cohort of the international elites in Asia, mainly those who are at least sympathetic to the Chinese CCP regime from a developmentalist perspective, view the increasing level of antagonistic tendencies in the Hong Kong movement to be an affront to the rule of law and not constructive to the ultimate aim of the Hong Kong protests. Those who feel may find that these ideas are actually not their own. They are quickly becoming ideological followers of the self serving class of people who view their own economic stability as superior to the political and civil rights of the people of Hong Kong, China, and Asia as a whole.
The protests on Hong Kong are not ideologically monolithic, but they focus in general on the horrible injustices which the people of Hong Kong have faced. In the 1980s, the handover agreement was negotiated with the crooked UK government, but it was done absolutely without the consent of the majority of Hong Kongers. They played no role in deciding their own future, and in 1997, the UK, which had taken the sovereignty of the people of Hong Kong a hundred years before in a time of war, resold their sovereignty to a new set of tyrants, the CCP, which was still reeling from the carnage of Tiananmen.
The Basic Law, as crude as it was, and as unrepresentative of the wishes of the people of Hong Kong, was at least supposed to be honored by the communists. Universal suffrage and elections were promised in the meantime, and a system of representation which would allow Hong Kong to flourish and the peoples’ voices to finally be heard was anticipated. As always, however, the CCP reneged, denying Hong Kongers the right to choose their Chief Executive, denying them the right to choose all the members of their legislative council. Instead, a corrupt and fetid oligarchy was allowed to reign. Decadent, self-serving tycoons and their triad allies, along with a troupe of corrupt, underfunded and underpowered bureaucrats, subservient to the will of their political masters, sold out the country. They transformed Hong Kong, making it an utterly unbearable place to live.
Hong Kong has been governed in the interests of its elite; taxes are kept extremely low, land prices are kept extremely high, and government services are abhorrent as a result. Unaffordable housing, unsustainably slow and overcrowded medical services, insufficient regulation leading to building collapses, an education system on the verge of collapse, these are just some of the problems with life in Hong Kong. The political suppression and utter lack of representation or right to have a separate national identity are an altogether separate issue.
Democracy, representation, the right to be heard and have a government that responds to its people and just not a small cadre of billionaires, this is what the people of Hong Kong are fighting for. By laying down and submitting to the CCP, what can they gain? There are no free elections, and there is no chance to change the leader.
To be clear, Carrie Lam was not popularly elected.
How then can Hong Kongers demand change? By sabotaging the economy, and creating chaos, the two things that will anger both the economic elites in Hong Kong, and the CCP in China.
By enacting general strikes, shutting down the airport, and with the chaos unfolding creating a general sense of unease in the city, Hong Kongers threaten investor confidence, almost as much as the CCP does when it makes clear threats to spark a civil war with its “urban warfare” ideological genocide antics. The sinking of the Hong Kong economy may seem painful for Hong Kongers, but for a generation who will likely never be able to afford a home and who face rampant underpayment, too few university places to ensure a good future, and millions who have already left or are thinking about seeking opportunities abroad, there is not much to lose: Hong Kong has already failed its youth. On the other hand, economic elites stand to lose everything, and may no longer continue to support the status quo. They may apply pressure on either the CCP or Lam’s administration to apply a change of course. Their continued necrotic grip on power can not continue indefinitely, and it seems like the youth of Hong Kong will take it no longer.
The second aspect of this is the sense of unease in China. The CCP’s primary claim to legitimacy in China is their ability to prevent chaos, both by maintaining a unified China, and maintaining order including economic health. This may threaten to crumble if the unrest of Hong Kong spreads like a contagion to China. Chinese citizens are significantly more blindly patriotic than Hong Kongers, and do not face nearly the same challenges. Yet the sight of massive civil unrest being allowed to take place, in addition to a clear element pushing for independence from Chinese control could make a large psychological impression on the Chinese masses. China has made significant efforts to limit travel to Hong Kong during this period, and social media is already completely censored aiming to prevent even the slightest whispers from reaching the mainland only a few dozen miles away. The chaos in Hong Kong is anathema to the CCP’s aim of complete political and social control. Therefore, this too is an effective tool at pressuring the CCP to change its trajectory.
Lastly and most importantly, to this date, the protests have accomplished virtually nothing, because the government isn’t listening. Reports last week indicate now that Carrie Lam asked CCP officials if she could completely shelf the extradition bill and they refused, indicating firstly that the supposedly independent HK Chief Executive is actually politically subservient to the CCP, in clear violation of the basic law, and secondly, that the CCP is utterly unwilling to engage or compromise. The protests have gone on for several months, they are increasing in intensity, yet not only have none of the demands of the people of Hong Kong been met, the government has not even been willing to sit down with the people of Hong Kong. They are finally calling a spade a spade, and no longer pretending that it is a representative government. The administration of Hong Kong refuses to represent its own citizens: it is simply a mouthpiece for CCP and HK billionaire elite interests. With this in mind, what are the people of Hong Kong to do?
With a little unorthodox medicine, perhaps the government will change its tune. The people of Hong Kong have little to lose, and perhaps at this point, chaos is the sole mode of political expression in Hong Kong.
Staff writer: Ari B