China is currently transgressing the terms of its 1997 treaty over Hong Kong, which promised a “one country, two systems” settlement that preserved Hong Kong’s somewhat autonomous democratic institutions. These institutions guarantee rights to Hong Kongers and guard its common-law inheritance.
China’s legislature in Beijing is preparing a new national-security law aimed at Hong Kong to prohibit and punish terrorism, foreign influence, and secession. By that, they mean demonstration, free speech, and a functioning democratic system with rights guaranteed to citizens. Meanwhile, Beijing’s loyalists installed in Hong Kong’s legislative council have been making open attempts at a putsch against the pro-democracy majority.
China’s move against Hong Kong is likely dictated by propitious circumstances. Democracy protesters in Hong Kong may be fatigued. And while the rest of the world deals with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little appetite to expend the diplomatic energy or engage in the trade actions that could protect Hong Kong.
At the time of the treaty, little Hong Kong accounted for nearly 20 percent of China’s overall economy, and it was a crucial engine of China’s economic growth. Companies that wanted to do business in a liberalizing China headquartered in Hong Kong. Financial markets still prefer it. Why? Because it has inherited a property-rights regime and a judicial system from the Anglo tradition. One could make a case in a Hong Kong court and expect a fair hearing, rather than a political judgment dictated by a party boss.
Abrogating the two-systems settlement is an injustice, and a foreseeable one. Hong Kong now represents less than 3 percent of China’s economy. And so Beijing senses it can strike a new bargain, renege on its treaty obligation, and put to death any notion that Hong Kong’s style of government will ever win out by persuasion.
Past attempts at “security legislation” or other measures aimed at Hong Kong’s independence were met with furious protests. Hong Kong’s democracy movement has taken to the streets in 2003, in the 2014 Umbrella movement, and in the massive civil unrest of 2019. The advanced guard of Hong Kong activists are hardened, committed, and, in many cases, radicalized. But they may face a problem of protest fatigue and resignation among supporters.
What’s being done to Hong Kongers is an immense injustice. But Hong Kong cannot depend on outside intervention for assistance. Beyond some diplomatic pressure from the United States, little else is coming. No major power has the ability or will to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy with military threats.
So Hong Kongers can only protect their autonomy the way all small nations do against behemoth powers at the doorstep: by being ungovernable save on their own terms. This requires an immense amount of unity and morale among the people themselves, and even then the outcome is not certain.
Time we gave Hong Kong a good hand up
do you read anything beside the fake media news on HK and the daily riots and destruction of property and indiscriminate beating of HK residents ? when these demonstrators or what ever you want to call them took over the university-they destroyed it. HK is a provincial province of CHINA. again, HK is a provincial province of CHINA. have you been there lately?? the best thing America can do is STAY OUT of HK.
this is how simple it becomes: where does HK get all of its food, water, electricity, fuel,and essential living items-CHINA. I have enjoyed your posts over the years but HK under China rule has unlimited freedoms of travel, voting, and journalism. beating up people on the street, setting them on fire, destroying HK property is these demonstrator’s MO. in HK there is a garrison of 6000 Chinese regulars, and there is a new chief of police. what these mellinium’s do not understand is that they have no platform for negotiations with China. the idiots in the house and senate can pass all and bills they want, more personal and party press time. the bills from the house and senate had their 15 min. most of your readers probably have forgotten about them. the leadership of China will use these paper interferences as toilet paper and piss on them.