Hong Kong burned today as the PRC made their best effort to appear unfazed as they celebrated the long awaited events in Beijing marking 70 years since the foundation of the PRC. The CCP put on their usual theatrics of displaying nuclear weapons and masses of identical soldiers goose-stepping in a salute to their costume wearing dictator, Xi Jinping, channeling Mao in his outfit meant to evoke feelings of nostalgia for the man who killed nearly a third of China’s population through his poor governance. Meanwhile, the events planned for months in Hong Kong were completely cancelled amid crippling unrest and the shooting of an unarmed protestor by police.
To call it an anniversary would be to celebrate the 70 years of rule that the CCP has enjoyed over China and the territories that it has conquered, including Tibet through force, and Hong Kong through connivance. It is instead a marker of the length, the scale, of which communist regimes from the USSR and DPRK and Cuba, to the modern PRC, have affected world security, peace, and human rights.
Today, though, China lost face. Instead of presenting unity and strength to the world, the country was racked by unrest as its vision of stability and strong leadership showed cracks. The one-country two-systems paradigm is crumbling, and the country seems paralyzed in dealing with it as it has no good options. The only friends that China haven’t bought and couldn’t be turned by cash are Kim Jong Un, himself only a friend through necessity, and the timeless sycophant Trump, a man for whom personal ego-stoking would justify the commission of treason, and who today congratulated the PRC on their 70 years of despotism in a vomit-inducing display of American weakness.
The fact is, China is in crisis.
Hong Kong, and Taiwan for that matter, are the single largest geopolitical goals of China, but the question never asked is why. Hong Kong represents a drop in the bucket for China’s economy, and Taiwan the same. To risk nuclear war over expanded maritime territory is sheer folly.
The answer is symbolism. Proceeding from the notion that symbolism of Chinese strength, unification, consolidation of national territory, is the crown jewel on the rebirth of China as a great nation is the essence of the Chinese dream elucidated by Xi Jinping.
In a socialist country, where private property is theoretically impossible, and the universal provision of the proletariat’s basic wants has been claimed by the regime for decades, material wealth – home ownership, an iPhone, a sports car in every garage, these were never the goals of a Chinese dream. In a state where the party, the country, supersedes the demands of individuals, where class and national good are supreme, the Chinese dream refers to the country’s return to greatness, ultimately, to supremacy over Asia.
Without being able to conquer the territories it lost through war, to vanquish its enemies, China is still perceived as weak, and the symbolism is key.
Therefore, whether Hong Kong survives or burns to the ground is of absolutely no consequence to the CCP. Hong Kong is already under Chinese sovereignty. The aim of preserving Hong Kong, until now, has been as a model for one-country two-systems, and this was only meant to lure Taiwan into peaceful reunification, so as to prevent war with the US.
Now that the conflagration in Hong Kong has begun, the CCP has nothing more to gain. It has lost its model province. If it uses force, it shows what Taiwan can look forward to under China: brutal suppression, civil war, death and cultural annihilation. If it allows Hong Kong to collapse, it shows an alternative path to destruction: economic ruin, brought about by communist mismanagement, a flood of mainlander parasites, and political dysfunction. Acceding to protestor demands is antithetical to the ethos of the CCP, and the party would sooner sink the island into the South China Sea than capitulate and allow democratization.
Therefore, they have nothing more to lose, and have chosen the diplomatically cheaper option, and the one less likely to disturb Taiwan’s communist sympathizing KMT party, stagnation and eventually economic disintegration.
The problem is much deeper than Hong Kong though, it shows a rot in the Chinese communist party framework. The ideological rigidity, the failure to learn from mistakes, to course correct through effective leadership changes, to take constructive criticism, these are wearing down the system in China. As the people, more and more exposed to the outside world begin to see nationalism as less connected to single-party rule than to effective and reasoned governance, CCP rule is threatened.
As always, China has only one way to dig itself out of the problems that its clumsy 19th century ideology has buried itself in, force, and it is quickly finding that this is leading to diminishing returns. Protests appear across the country daily and are brutally suppressed. Genocide is ongoing in the West. The economy is tanking, brain drain is so endemic that most party officials keep multiple passports awaiting the inevitable collapse, and the over-reliance on nationalism through the prism of the CCP is quickly leading the country towards war fever in conflicts that it knows it can’t win. China has no friends, in fact, it is surrounded by enemies, who have in the past and will again cannibalize its territory should it stumble, and the CCP is aware of this.
With all of these weaknesses in mind, perhaps it is time for the American foreign policy establishment to drop the crude failed hopes of democratization through development, and actively push for decoupling and regime change in the PRC. The world is waiting for a solution, an end, to the regime that has brought death and destruction to Asia for so long.
Staff writer: Ari B