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Making life inconvenient

Protests

Visitors to Hong Kong are expecting chaos at the airport and all over the city, and are shocked to find that there’s nothing to see (and delighted by the low low prices charged by hotels).

The protests are still very much happening, but most last only a short time, and there’s hardly any evidence of them afterwards (with everything cleared up within hours).   Even the one at the airport didn’t last too long, and on the second day flights were still taking off long after it was reported that everything had stopped.  

I’m not going to risk any analysis, but the following are worth following on Twitter: @HongKongFP @HongKongHermit @Lok. Renaud Haccart (sadly, I’m not getting anymore “helpful” tweets from PRC media organizations to give me a more balanced view).

And Hemlock is usually worth a read.

This article is quite good:  'We must defend our city': A day in the life of a Hong Kong protester

This, on the other hand, is terrible:

The World Is Reaping the Chaos the British Empire Sowed

Locals are still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.

BY AMY HAWKINS | AUGUST 13, 2019, 4:14 PM

There was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. That’s long gone, but the grubby legacy of imperialism remains in Asia, where two seemingly distinct crises—in Hong Kong and Kashmir—share the same legacy.

Hong Kong is in its 10th week of demonstrations, as hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of society call for greater democratic freedoms in their city. The police have responded brutally while Beijing now describes the protests as “terrorism.”

Where to start?  The UK wanted to introduce more democracy to Hong Kong in the 1950s, but were told by the Beijing government that this was not acceptable and that they would invade the territory if there was any attempt to change the status quo. 

Then in 1982 (when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister) the Foreign Office apparently believed that China could be persuaded to allow Britain to continue to run Hong Kong in return for acknowledging Chinese sovereignty.  The response from China was (predictably enough) that it was going to take control on 1 July 1997 come what may, and if necessary they would use troops to make it happen.  There was very little that the UK could have done about that, but both sides wanted an agreement, and one was duly reached. 

Of course we know that Chris Patten did introduce greater democracy in the 1990s when he was Governor, and ignored similar threats from Beijing.  Needless to say, when China took control they changed the voting system, so Patten’s reforms achieved very little.

Yes, you can say that the UK could have done more in the first hundred years it ruled Hong Kong, but that wouldn’t have changed the fundamental problem that the New Territories was leased from China. 

Or you could say that all imperialism is wrong and the UK should never have had any involvement in Hong Kong.  Which is fair enough as a general principle, but totally misses the point of the protests, which are actually about wanting Hong Kong to be different from the Mainland. 

Today’s Cantonese expression is 加油 “gaa yau”, which means “add oil” and can be used when you want to offer encouragement to anyone (it’s widely used to give support for the protestors).

Comments

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D

The problem is that the protestors are broadly on the wrong side of history.

You are correct that there is little blame to be apportioned to Britain; it is also why Britain is correctly at this moment standing well clear of the whole issue of the protests. The reality is that it is Hong Kong's destiny to be "just another Chinese city" due to the entire shape of the regional economy. I doubt that even most protestors deny this.

Let us examine the facts: extradition as a general principle has bugged Hong Kong for a long time. The push to have a treaty in general has been in place since at least the 1990s from the business community, and is very much needed. Both these being true, it is also self-evident that any extradition legislation enacted today, when Hong Kong is simply and legally a part of China, would include China. There is no feasible version of a Hong Kong extradition treaty which can exclude China.

Much better analysis of this issue can be found here:

https://criticalspectator.com/china/hong-kongs-suicide

https://asymmetricworld.com/2019/08/15/on-the-big-picture-the-hong-kong-protestors-have-got-it-wrong/

http://www.inkl.com/news/hong-kong-protesters-want-to-protect-freedoms-work-on-defending-one-country-two-systems-first-retired-judge-henry-litton-says?share=BApdVbsowdb

In particular the last one is salient: Hong Kong is a part of China, no ifs, no buts. The "one country, two systems" formula does include "one country", and this has been rather neglected by the protestors who even with the best of wills have no clear vision of what they are asking for. Hong Kong's future lies with China, that much is clear. It lies in becoming integrated into the Greater Bay Area. For those Honkies who wish, Cnut-like, to resist this underlying trend, it is a failure not of their government, but of themselves. In the 1980s, Thatcher reiterated that redundant mineworkers would, ultimately, have to "get on their bikes". The same applies to Hong Kong people who, just like anyone else, need to find themselves a new raison d'etre. Nobody owes them a living. Hong Kong has a declining usefulness to the world around it, so either they go and find a new one just like their immigrant forbears did, or they will become poorer.

And I can assure you of one thing: amongst all those noble student protestors, not a single one of them has any desire of being free, equal ... and poor.

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