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August 2019

Stone wall

The Orchid and the Great Stone Wall – The Diplomat

Debate

The more Beijing seizes Hong Kong, the more its control slips.

Police officers armed with batons and shields shout at protesters during a protest at Hong Kong airport on August 13, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo / Vincent Yu

Xi Jinping is a beset man, fighting on all fronts. The terror and lies of its ethnic cleansing of the Turkish peoples in western China continues at a rapid pace. Across the country, repression has reached levels not seen since the days of Mao Zedong’s disastrous campaigns. Abroad, Beijing’s threats and ploys are now regularly exposed, driving out Taiwan while presaging the treatment China’s neighbors could receive if the current regime grows unchecked. There seems to be no place for the Chinese Supreme Leader to find refuge.

Enter the Hong Kong protesters. Exasperated by a proposed extradition law, one more step in Beijing’s gradual erosion of Hong Kong’s special status, its citizens took to the streets to demonstrate. The Chinese authorities are said to have coordinated with the Hong Kong triads to suppress the protesters (working with organized crime rackets seems to come easily to the Chinese Communist Party). So far, however, all efforts by the Hong Kong government, police and others – including the mainland police covertly brought in to suppress the protests – have been insufficient to suppress the people’s defense of their rights. So Hong Kong and the world are waiting to see if Xi will order his mighty and numerous armed forces to crush the protesters.

Mao said that political power arises from the barrel of a gun. But Confucius insisted that true rule comes through law and virtue, echoing Zechariah’s warning: “Neither by force nor by power. There is no doubt that the power of Mao and Xi can subdue the masses for a while. But as long as people cherish freedom, Xi’s coercion and tyranny will eventually fail, just like Mao’s.

Even if Xi’s strategy is successful, it means the abject suppression of independent thought among the entire Chinese population, hampering the Chinese economy. In addition, the world is starting to crack down on an increasingly earthy China. Violently suppressing Hong Kong would belittle all that remains of Beijing’s credibility and potentially turn China into a pariah state, a far bigger setback than after the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

Hong Kong people are known for their business acumen, not their politics. If Beijing’s encroachments hadn’t started to pinch them seriously, they would have been pretty quiet. And as Hong Kong and Taiwan have shown, there is no contradiction between Chinese civilization and democratic governance. Thus, Beijing’s attempt to suppress Hong Kong is an arbitrary decision by Xi, and not a requirement of the situation.

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Beijing equates peaceful protests with “terrorism,” suggesting that there is no lie so wrong that they won’t tell it, and perhaps there is no crime so despicable as they are. will not do it. Given its prodigious capacity for violence, it is perhaps only a mad hope that prompts Hong Kong people to face government bullets with their own flesh.

Hong Kong people have made their point. Xi’s solution is to accede to their demands and allow them to be patriotic citizens in their own way. A city that has been independent for a long time is not a threat to the Chinese Communist Party. But a second Tiananmen massacre could be.

The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and are not necessarily those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Air Force.


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