Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist

Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist


This protester calls himself “Bruce’’ We’ve hidden his face and obscured his voice to protect his identity He’s one of the millions of Hong Kongers taking to the streetsMany people here are wearing face masksPeople are hiding their identitiesThey fear that the government will press chargesWhat started as a protest against an extradition bill… …has become the most serious challenge… …to the Communist Party’s authority… …since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago As the demonstrations enter a third month… …neither the government nor the protesters is willing to back downPolice fire tear gas, rubber bullets……and use their police baton to hit the protestersBut it’s not enough to deter the demonstrators So what happens now?This is a real nightmare for the Communist government in BeijingThey can either crush Hong Kong……or they can tolerate being defied……in a way that undermines everything……about their whole structure of governmentThey have no good choicesHong Kong is one of the most important financial centres in the world And it has a unique status It’s a city in China but it’s not entirely Chinese It has its own currency… …its own passport… …its own legal system There’s even a boundary between Hong Kong and the rest of China… …and you need a permit to cross it This is all down to its history In 1842 Hong Kong was ceded by the Chinese to the British… …after the first Opium War But in 1997 Britain gave it back to ChinaHong Kong people are to run Hong KongWith one important condition… …for 50 years Hong Kong was to be governed… …under what is known as “one country, two systems” The chief executive who runs Hong Kong… …would be appointed by a pro-Chinese committee But the city was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy… …with its own government, legal system… …and economic independence until 2047 Over the past decade those rights have been eroded Fuller democracy, promised as part of the handover agreement… …has yet to be granted by ChinaYellow ribbon means come back, come back democracyEmily Lau was a Hong Kong politician for 25 years Today she still campaigns for democracyThings have deteriorated fast……particularly since President Xi Jinping came to powerSo people are very concernedWe want freedoms, we want personal safety……we want the rule of lawChina’s grip has got ever tighter In 2012 the government tried to install… …a patriotic pro-Chinese education system Then five Hong Kong booksellers… …who sold material banned in mainland China disappeared In 2016 pro-democracy opposition leaders… …were thrown out of Hong Kong’s parliament… …for insulting China when swearing their oaths And then in February this year… …the government introduced a bill… …which would have allowed extradition to the mainlandVery few people in Hong Kong imagine there’s going to be……full-on, Western-style democracyBut they are very angry about the way that……what they believe they were promised……was something much more accountable where……you’d have something close to universal suffrageThe basic social contract……between the people of Hong Kong and their government is breaking downAll this is fuelling the protesters’ angerThe invisible hand from China……are getting more visibleThey are putting more controls on Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracyHong Kong is not ChinaPeople will say to you, “We know that 2047 is coming one day……but we don’t want it to happen now”As the protests get larger and more violent… …the chance of China intervening increases Beijing has made thinly veiled threats to send in its military forces… …the People’s Liberation ArmyThose who play with fire will perish by itAt the end of the day, they will eventually be punishedA few weeks ago nobody seriously thought……we could see another Tiananmen Square in Hong KongNow you can’t rule it outIn 1989 a student demonstration in Beijing ended in massacre Hundreds, maybe thousands, were shot dead For the Chinese government… …the Hong Kong demonstrators are defying the authority… …of a Communist leadership that cannot tolerate defianceFor President Xi Jinping……his kind of north and south, his east and west, is the absolute authority……and total control of the Chinese Communist PartyAnd anything that threatens that must be crushedThey are afraid that it could be very infectious……and they don’t want to see such marches……in the other parts of mainland ChinaAnother fear is some protesters’ demand for full independence But military intervention would be a very risky strategy for BeijingHong Kong for all its woes……is still a very rich world financial centreTo roll troops into that kind of financial centre……would be an economic catastropheIn 1993 Hong Kong’s GDP accounted for… …more than a quarter of mainland China’s Today China’s remarkable rise means that Hong Kong’s… …economic output makes up less than 3% of the mainland’s But Hong Kong remains important for China Multinationals use it as a launch pad to the mainland… …and it gives Chinese companies access to the rest of the worldSo we are very specialWe are a window for China to look to the outside world……as an international city with all our connectionsIt’s very valuable to ChinaSo how the turmoil is resolved matters to more… …than just the people of Hong KongThe government there said the People’s Liberation Army may be deployedBut if that’s the case, the game is overIf China uses lethal force……then you would see an economic crashThere’s 85,000 American expatriates in Hong KongYou would see them fleeing for the airportThis all comes at a time when China and America… …are waging a trade and technology war Bloodshed on Hong Kong’s streets… …would make relations deteriorate even further Beijing is now blaming outsiders for the troubleWe’ve seen remarkably explicit……state-media commentaries telling the people of China……that these protests are not just radical and violent……but are also orchestrated by foreign forcesThe Chinese government resolutely opposes……any foreign forces attempts to intervene in Hong Kong affairsFor the Chinese Communist leadership……what’s happening in Hong Kong is evidence……that as China rises as one of the world’s most powerful countries……that the West is using every means possible to divide and to frustrate ChinaFor China the situation has become much more than a dispute over a law It’s become an existential threat Bruce and the other protesters are holding their breathI still worry what happens next……because the situation could deteriorate very rapidlyChina’s Communist rulers must choose between two mortal dangers… …the collapse of economic stability and prosperity… …or the acceptance that protests can limit the Party’s absolute power

Comments

  1. Post
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    The Economist

    Join us today at 1pm GMT for a live Q&A with Robert Guest, The Economist’s foreign editor, and Anna Bucks, this film's producer who will be answering your questions about the Hong Kong protests. Here's the link to see it: https://econ.st/31O1rpu

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    Fay Wu

    People in Hong Kong who demand ‘democracy’ hit a man on his face just because he said ‘we are all Chinese’. Applause for ‘western democracy’. 🙃

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    yukin1990

    Don't forget the corrupt Chinese Communist government official sent their police/troops to disguise as violent protester or police to incite violence!! So that they can KILL HK people with its justified cause!! There some Chinese are evil like that!! So we need the US pass the bill to go after those same corrupt official who steal money from its own people!!

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    Yibo Zhao

    The “ I am not Chinese syndrome " of Hong Kong English people is spreading. They are becoming the sick men and women of East Asia. England must accept them as refugees in order to protect their rights. What a shame to England, leaving those poor English citizens in China. Shame to England! How dare the politicians in England left their citizens. Shame to the British.

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    miley miley

    Stupid Chinese people and their so called communists government … let HK people to live their lives peacefully.

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    Benyseus

    Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Autonomous region of Inner Mongolia should all just secede from China and join up with Taiwan and form their own country.

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    CHL41993

    5:39 is actully a pro-government protest. Notice all the Chinese flags they were waving. And they are in light colored shirts. And talk scares all you want, China did it in 89, what's following is 30 yrs of non-stopping rapid development.

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    Murcielago SV

    There is going to be a war. When people get tired of being in shackles the only thing they'll rally together and fight for is their freedom. If history has shown us anything it's that freedom is always paid for in blood.

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    Fi S

    You could simply say ‘Chinese leadership’ instead of “Chinese communist leadership”. I don’t think you put capitalist in any sentence you use to describe western countries. The bias can’t be more obvious.

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    Jenny Y.

    Its funny how some HK people think they are so much more special than rest of Chinese while their GDP is about less than 3% of Chinese overall economy. No matter wherever in the world, Hong Kong people will alway always be thought as Chinese. Not HongKongnese, Not British, but Chinese. That's the truth. Truly sad to see how everything just keep deteriorating in HK. God bless HK.

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    patrickgu

    All of the warriors of Independence of North Ireland, Scotland, Welsh, let us join together to fight against the brutal tyranny. The Brixt is the best opportunity. Wake up! Fight for your freedom!

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    LAWSON LEE

    The communist government abuses taxpayers’ money to brainwash civilians to strictly follow communist party values. This party brainwash Children from primary school to university via curriculum even when they work. Their theory is that political party is their country, if you don’t like the ruling party, you’re the traitor. These miseducated population doesn’t have common sense of human being.

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    Daniel Ramsey

    China using Propaganda in order to subdue Hong Kong. How very sad in this day and age. Hong Kong has a right to be independent!

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    Orlando Wei

    This will only foreshadowed the more chaos that is to come in 2047 as Hong Kong will definitely fight against China for there freedoms. It’s going to be a painful year in 2047 as there might be a war taking place.

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    lap chan

    It is very suspicious that a consul from the us embassy in Hong Kong meets with the pro independent group. She meddles with China internal affair.

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    Zhang san

    香港人自己成功消灭自己在华人圈和世界的优越感,优势资源和制度优越感。可悲可叹,这就是反面教材。全体国人的反面教材。明明是资本主义政商结合的恶果,却被引导成种族主义,反中国,反法律 ,暴力

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    Chen sun

    anything threat USA or British authority will be crushed as well. Hong kong no longer special, product life cycle already fall into decline part. Hong Kong need to find new position in global business. Hong kong protestors are nothing but traitor, if they don’t want to be Chinese I believe British and American will accept them as refugee. I don’t understand why they don’t leave and be part of western country.

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    Cao Karl

    I've seen the whole video, the tank just passed by and the pedestrian is not hurt at all. Intentionally made video. apparently political aims

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    chenhan wang

    for 156 years when the Brits ruled HK, they never had democracy and much less elections. Now these kids think that that was a golden era when they had freedom and democracy. Looks like the would much rather be ruled by a white governor appointed by a foreign queen.

    HK's economy did spectacularly in the past because China was closed to the world. Countries traded with China not directly, but through HK. Now that China is open for business, there is much less need for HK. The HK economy has suffered and the young feel left out because the HK governments polices has let them been priced out of ever owning a home. This is the root of the dissatisfaction HK people. But they somehow have been led to equate the current bad times with Chinese rule, and the roaring good times with British rule.

    Instead of understanding this, and working with the Central Government to tranform its role within Greater China, HK people still believe their prosperity was solely due to laissez-faire economics, or democracy or some other airy fairy idea.

    The HK government too has failed to understand this fundamental fact and therefore has not adapted to the new situation. Instead, it has allowed its young people to become disaffected and worse still, become used as pawns by the US in its superpower struggle with China. There can only be a downward spiral till people become humble enough to face their situation with brutal honesty.

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    Eleeth Tahgra

    6:41 Ahhhh so thats why hk is a mess now. Some of its leaders think too highly of its city. They think china will follow their demand.

    And this also…show the foresight of china's leaders by preparing shanghai n shenzhen to take over hk's functions.

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    Keanezou

    This video interviewed and talked about opinions from one side of the argument only. I am not sure how this is different from the so called controlled media all the Western media claim the CCP enforced in mainland China. Also, for a lot of the comments I read from this video, you talk about fighting for freedom and democracy and the sacrifice one must go through to achieve them. To be honest, the African warlord must have said the same thing when they motivate their "freedom fighters" to slaughter women and children.

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    Lin Fang

    If this report is true and speaking for the right, how to explain why police and some random people who just say “no” on the street to these protestors have been violently hit? How to explain these so called protestors damage the Metro facilities over and over again? I am right now in Hong Kong and am being so “lucky” to witness all these in the last three months. Even you are not in HK, the truth could easily be searched through YouTube. Hope everything will get better soon and every protestor has a chance to stop the mistake to use violence!Please stop the violence towards your own hometown and your own ppl! Please stand up and do something good for HK!

  38. Post
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    Frederick Wang

    "But after 1997, Britain gave it back to China."Isn't that amazing, manipulate viewers with such a gentle touch?

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    Frederick Wang

    Wherever British colonist was forced to leave, they left with seeds of calamity behind them. Britain deliberately sabotaged the transference of Hong Kong and created a democratic agenda that sparked today's riots. A genius idea they never come up with during their 1.5 century of shameless colonist rule. Now they stand aside and chant for violence and blood spilling.

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    Michael Whittle

    Honk Kong will create up rest in mainland China see it as out side attack to sabatage China. This could create war warning

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    Tony Zhang

    Shit media don't show riots and destroy without difference. Beating anyone who are not holding same value. Shame on you.

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    Muhammad SaadI

    They don't even produce their own electricity no fuel supplies of their own. Hong Kong won't even survive own its own.

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    Muhammad SaadI

    How much independence do they want. They are already demonstrating like this imagine this kind of demonstration in London or New York or Delhi the government their wouldn't have tolerated and would have crushed it. Yes outside world is sponsoring it and a small country known as united Kingdom is one of them.

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    mengxing tong

    For those who really want to understand what's actually happening in HK now:
    protestors have destroyed certain MTR facilities (certain stations have been severely destroyed), and then MTR decided to close MTR to repair the destroyed components (not sure if the western media show the picture of destroyed stations or not but there is a lot of pics available on HK media, not Mainland Chinese media), and protestors attack the MTR staff members for not opening MTR station (but think about why the staff close it).
    Apart from MTR, a lot of restaurants, shops, banks have also been severely damaged by protestors.
    And, I know a lot of media portrayed how HK police treat protestors, however, most videos on western media only show a part of the story, and have taken out the part how protestors assault, provoke and attack police.
    I understand that it's really hard to see the full and true story, but, pls, do some research before you choose a side/stance (for those people saying that stand with HK), coz when you have a side, you always tend to rationalize whatever people on your side are doing.
    Last but not least, freedom of speech and expression should definitely be respected and protected, but such freedoms are not absolute, check out ICCPR if anyone have question (article 12 probably).
    No abuse of such freedoms.

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    Jo Jo

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  53. Post
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    pierusa123

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nDCnR7tgV8Hong Kong police were found in the closed subway station. Some subway stations were set on fire, which the Police accused were set by the protesters. However, some incident indicated that the fire may be set by Hong Kong police. Many evidence showed that Liberty Army or Mainland Police were mixed in the Hong Kong Police forces during the crack down.

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    Eric Tran

    I'm from Kowloon, and I Fully support Xi jiping and Carrie Lam. Rule of Law becomes Rule of ruin. Wake up Hong Kong.

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    Xiaoqiang Guo

    You want freedom, so you make others free of metro?
    You want personal safety, so you protest and even hurt innocent citizens?
    You want the rule of law??? OK, if that can be called 'legal', I'm speechless🙄.

  58. Post
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    Xiaoqiang Guo

    Hong Kong think highly of themselves too much. They even think China can't run without them… Well, that might be true 30 years ago. See Shenzhen nearby, if Hong Kong continue to protest, Chinese government may leave it alone and make Shenzhen another Hong Kong, even greater.

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    Kate100294764

    i dont understand why the governments of the west sit by and do nothing about HK. After Nazi Germany the west swore they would never let it happen again. Well its happening in China, it happened with Tibetans, it happened with FaLongGong, it happened with XinJiang and it happened to Christians. And they want to drag the upstanding citizens of Hong Kong into their cesspit system of corruption, violence, organic harvesting and suppression. NO WAY!!

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    Chong Chong

    UK oready Not enough money maaaa…refer UK independent News " iLLumiNati Queen goes bankruptcy in 2011 n took train back hometown for merry X'Mas with 1body guard only maaaa..!!!.u all HK kids no working all depands on satanic iLLumiNati Jobs n waiting for Lunch <plus play play Hand phone games only HOW ??

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    tech aze

    Videos of pro-riotor are boosting, while videos of pro-China are hidden.
    Welcome to the real word of "Democracy and Freedom of Speech".

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    J Lara

    If we let 1bi people under a dictatorship and etnocracy, the whole world might change for the worse, sonner rather than later.

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    Caleb Walker

    Ah the great Communism Vs. Capitalism battle.

    Everyone can agree they want more money, but no one can agree how to do it.

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    J Rizzo

    They're making Hong Kong Great Again. This is one thing I've seen American voters who are liberal and conservative agree on. #FreeHongKong

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    Yan Mo

    To all those westerners in the Comments, if you like the protestors so much, ask your government to grant them citizenship! We have no interest in these people who are so into "freedom and democracy", but it looks like they fit your ideology perfectly right?

    Take them!! don't just sit in the bed with your fat asses drinking soda and be like "I root for freedom"; take them!!

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    S S

    HK's current police state situation is worse than 1989 Beijing Massacre. Victims there got shot dead immediately by guns and tanks while HK commie police beat up protesters with batons until the victims laid down there to die on their own as insects. Over 120 protesters are slaughtered by police dogs or their hired triads with corpses dumped in the sea as were done during the Cultural Revolution!! Many more got serious body and brain injuries. The world got to help liberate HK from China criminal party the largest and most evil thuggish nation.

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    Cestogram

    why journalists hesitate to use the word "terrorism" when it comes to crimes and violent acts of government forces and their supporters?

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    dan lyu

    不,香港并不是对中国来说最大的挑战。如何让这个世界认知到中国是一个在发展中从未主动挑起战争、和平崛起、文明崛起的国家才是中国在世界舞台上最大的挑战。中国足够大,并不需要向英国或者美国那样靠着殖民地、靠着黑奴贸易去做第一笔原始资本积累;中国足够文明,我们是世界四大文明古国中唯一一个从未曾断裂的文明,在我们高度享受文明带来的物质财富和精神财富的时候,欧洲还在用放血的方式治疗疾病;中国是个负责人的国家,对于合作伙伴的帮助掏心掏肺,而不是美国,对库尔德人狡兔死走狗烹、飞鸟尽良弓藏。事实上,中国才是最接近美国国父们想象之中理想的国家。我相信我的政府有足够的智慧和能力解决香港问题。

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    Daegog The Wyrdmake

    Hong Kong has ONE chance at remaining independent.
    They have to get nukes and the ability to launch them at China.
    Without that, it is game over.

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    yi collin

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RJcpaGSw4E if you want anybody or police being attacked like this in UK

    if you like UK restaurant burned like this?:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5LVAkeexg0

    if you like UK subway station being burned like this?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb9iRcjhJ68

    if you want UK government being attacked this way?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGCugc-P23o

    if you want to random attacking in subway?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Foh-yydHgHw

    if you want a journalist being attacked just because he come from mainland?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8AjppqizpI

    if UK police should be punched this way?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX3kWCxJvc0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyX-X-dqjiM

    there are so many video to shows what happened in hongkang.

    and why western media just cut video show their reader a clip which will mislead their reader

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMDqXPmYgk4 in this video CNN only cut a clip that the police hit a guy, but did not show this guy attack police form back use weapon.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8wOBUZ-Vvw in this video almost all media just take a photo to show a police point a guy with a gun, but did not shows the police even not want to shot anybody just want save his falling colleague and protect himself. if you look carefully ,you could found at beginning this guy hide back of the rioters, and throw brick to police.

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    Neil's Evil Den

    The US just want chaos in China, so China economy and politics will be unstable, and US maintains its position in this world. I would just say US is afraid China is rising up.

  94. Post
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    Bob Davis

    Promises, treaties,… are to be honored by those who are honorable. Liars bring dishonor to their families, neighbors,… Good people’s feelings are hurt when dishonest actors harm them so they react accordingly.

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    gordon

    there is only two choices:
    its either civil war or communism
    death or death
    which would you choose?

    either protest peacefully and get nowhere with protester victim numbers slowly going up…
    or they should really start a proper war and at least try to show them whos boss.

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    爸 爸

    Hong Kong is a part of China, their is no other way around. Our sovereignty can not be damaged. No matter what. Some hongkonger should realize that the land they are standing on is Chinese territory. Fuck off or zip it, stop attacking Chinese citizen and acting like animal, really disgraceful

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