Discussion in 'Political Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    The people of Hong Kong have been voting for their local district councils over the last few days. Turnout was huge, as much as twice what it was during the last local election, which pro-Beijing candidates won. While Hong Kongers have kind of shrugged off these elections in the past, this time lines of people waiting to vote reportedly stretched for blocks. And it appears that voters have voted overwhelmingly for pro-democracy candidates.

    The Voice of America says:

    "Early voting results Monday showed pro-democracy candidates winning nearly every seat they contested in Hong Kong's 18 district councils. Pro-democracy candidates led the pro-establishment camp, 278 seats to 42.

    If the trend continues, it would be a major symbolic blow to pro-China forces that dominate virtually all levels of Hong Kong's politics. It is the latest evidence of continued public support for a five-month-old pro-democracy movement that has become increasingly aggressive...

    The vote will not significantly change the balance of power in Hong Kong's quasi-democratic political system. District council members have no power to pass legislation; they deal mainly with hyperlocal issues, such as noise complaints and bus stop locations.

    However, the district council vote is seen as one of the most reliable indicators of public opinion, since it is the only fully democratic election in Hong Kong."


    This result is likely to have reverberations in mainland China, provided that news isn't totally censored and people learn about it. It makes it more difficult for the communists to pretend that they are the people's party, reflecting the will of the people. (Despite never having been elected to power and never allowing the people to vote on their rule.) Here's a population of Chinese who did have an opportunity to vote and their verdict appears to be clear and indisputable.
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    The question is, will Beijing allow the results?
  3. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I'm confused by Jinping the Pooh's response thus far. I should have thought he'd have sent in the army long before now. The country doesn't really need Hong Kong's "special status" anymore and with the growing violence on both sides I doubt many foreign governments would fault him for doing so, if only to restore order. At this point, I'm not so sure even Taiwan would say much about it. The only thing I can come up with is that, in Xi's mind, there's no real urgency. Nothing about the HK situation threatens Xi's brutal and absolute dictatorship over mainland China but going into HK and engaging in urban combat operations might prove expensive and difficult to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. Patient waiting and watching might be the wisest course since the whole protest movement will likely burn itself out. Then he will be able to do as he likes with HK and its restive inhabitants. China is ancient and Xi is just the latest Emperor in a very long line of Emperors. Taking the long view is second nature I think.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Beijing warns Hong Kong. In China, these things play out in slow motion.

  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I keep hearing that, but it seems to me that if Chinese policymakers were as patient and farsighted as people say then they'd have lured Taiwan back into the fold by assiduously respecting Hong Kong and Macau's autonomy. But they just couldn't keep from meddling.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think at this moment the people of Hong Kong have a new level of appreciation of the precariousness of their situation.
  8. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Well, it IS precarious. I don't know how anyone else could come to their rescue militarily nor do I see any clear legal justification for doing so. The only international party with any arguable stake in the outcome is the UK and they're so tied up in their own string I don't imagine they have much time or energy to aid HK. Besides, the way the Brits managed the rights of their HK citizenry reeks of...hm...well, just let's say they clearly didn't want a flood of Hongkongers emigrating to the UK to avoid government by the Chinese Communist Party. They DID create class of British nationality that guarantees a British passport but does not allow the national to settle in the UK or anywhere else except HK.

    I visited HK for several amazing days in 1978 when it was still a Crown Colony. Very different then; maybe half the current population and the skyline wasn't littered with skyscrapers. Kowloon City still festered under the almost tropical sun and English was very widely spoken. I guess English is still widely spoken as the second language after Cantonese. Hongkongers seem to make it a matter of principle NOT to learn Mandarin. Can't say I blame them, either.

    I do think that the best future for HK would be independence as a self-governing city state but I don't think that's likely. The English certainly resisted any attempts at independence and I don't expect the Chinese to be any more indulgent of the sentiment.

    I would like to visit again, though.
  9. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    I don't think that the British, even if they were willing, have the ability to influence the future of Hong Kong. Britain simply doesn't have the military or economic power any longer. Neither does the United States really, short of all-out war with China. Which is exceedingly unlikely. (Hong Kong just isn't a vital US interest, it's more of an emotional sympathy.)

    A Hong Kong declaration of Singapore-style city-state independence would trigger immediate movement of Chinese "Peoples Liberation" Army troops into Hong Kong. Nobody in Hong Kong has the power to resist them.

    My guess is that China is willing to wait this out. Hong Kong's special status is due to last for another 28 years or something, so Beijing can just wait for the locals to tire of demonstrating every weekend.

    The cost of sending in troops and risking another even bigger Tiananmen square massacre would be higher than just letting things fester. A military solution would just leave the Hong Kong population more hostile than it is now. It would damage Hong Kong as a world financial center, perhaps fatally. And it would trigger an exodus of Hong Kong's best and brightest to the US and Taiwan. (Many wealthy Hong Kong families have major assets in the US in preparation for that day. So they will land on their feet.)

    It would also harden world opinion against communist China (nope, not the cuddly panda bear), make a Taiwanese declaration of independence much more likely, and induce the US-Taiwan alliance to come out of the closet, with possible stationing of US nuclear weapons in Taiwan. It would probably stimulate Japanese rearmament as well.

    So China's probably going to try to let it play out and run out of steam on its own. But they are ready to intervene and want everyone to know it. They are trying to set limits.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  10. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what will change in 2047. True, Beijing's treaty obligation to maintain "one country two systems" will end but I don't know whether Beijing would cease to observe the distinction. After all, the CCP has already announced that the Handover Agreement does not operate to restrict Beijing's authority in the region and unless things change a lot between now and then, the CCP will face the same practical limits on its power then as it does now. Hong Kong is an irritant but not much more than that. If you can believe the polls (not sure about that) Mainland Chinese aren't overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Hongkongers' plight. I don't see HK "exporting" its revolution to the Mainland any time soon.

    The existence of Hong Kong is useful to the CCP too, if only as an open door for commerce to the rest of Asia and the world. Just a telling factoid: Holders of the HK SAR passport have visa free or visa on arrival access to 163 countries vs. the PRC passport with just 70 (according to Wikipedia, anyway). The passport situation reflects the fact that HK is much more "plugged in" to the world at large than is Mainland China. So maybe "watchful waiting" is the best tactic for now and for the foreseeable future.
  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think this is the biggest factor in the equation. I don't think China wants things to change that much. They may have underestimated the reaction of HK to the extradition treaty and needed to make a show of force in order to calm things down (they're really not all that calm right now) but I don't think they want to lose that open door. The message is "Don't drift too far out of bounds"
  12. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I wonder how much Taiwan plays into China's decision? I mean China wants Taiwan pro-China politics to be supreme. The current anti-China administration is really weak and should be destroyed at the next election. If China came down really hard on Hong Kong wouldn't that give a boast to the anti-China forces? (By pro-China I mean more open to becoming part of China and anti-China meaning 2 China's forever.)
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  14. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I know it's "Inconceivable!" but there's this whole thing about whether Wallace Shawn is alive or dead. I thought he had recently died.
  16. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  17. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

  18. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

  19. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I admit I don't know how Taiwan's military stacks up against the PRC's especially given that China would be invading a well-defended island. That's a very tall order indeed. Just ask the Germans in 1941. Or the Japanese at virtually every point in the last five centuries. Brute conventional military force has limits and recourse to nuclear weaponry would defeat the very purpose of any such invasion. The U.S is and probably always will be the only belligerent ever to use nuclear weapons in war and though we did so exactly to avoid such an invasion, I have a difficult time imagining the Chinese Communist Party taking such a gigantic risk.
  20. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    I think that communist China vastly outguns Taiwan. The whole Taiwanese army is only a little more than 100,000. The Chinese "people's liberation" army is some 2 million. The mainland has similar numerical advantages in aircraft and ships.

    But as you say, a Chinese attempt to invade Taiwan would probably require a huge Normandy style amphibious invasion and I'm not convinced that China could pull it off.

    What I see as more likely is a Chinese blockade of Taiwan and an attempt to choke it into submission. Encircle it with ships and subs and sink any ships trying to enter or leave Taiwanese ports. Shoot down aircraft entering or leaving. Try to wipe the Taiwanese air force out of the skies. And lob in thousands of conventional non-nuclear missiles.

    Taiwan's only hope would be if the United States went to war to protect them. While I suspect that the US would be reluctant to do that, I can see the US sending ships to challenge the blockade and if those ships were sunk, all hell could break loose.

    And even a conventional war with China isn't something to take lightly. China could (and would) make the whole western Pacific west of Guam very dangerous for the US navy. Japan would find itself in a very tough spot.

    And given the extent to which we have already off-shored our industry to China, they could probably produce more ships and planes quicker than we can. (That kind of industrial advantage is how we beat the Germans and Japanese in World War II.)

    So if the US and China got into a conventional war, I could imagine a situation where the US could be more or less forced to either back off or go nuclear.

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