Saturday, September 14, 2019

The People's Republic of China and Hong Kong the Special Administrative region: One Country, Two Systems- A House Divided Against Itself

"A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South."

Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858

A similar situation exists between the People's Republic of China and the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong the inherent contradiction of which has sparked a series of demonstrations and protests over the last 14 weeks which have started to become violent. With the main protest group, Demosisto's rejection of Carrie Lam's withdrawal of the extradition bill on September 4, it may well head towards an independence movement. That the Hong Kong police, accused by demonstrators of overreaction and police brutality, have fired warning shots in the air but so far have not shot any demonstrators still makes the situation dicey. So the "Boston massacre"* phase which would have hardened positions on both sides, but providing a stronger popular rallying position for the protesters, has come close but not yet reached despite an incident of a demonstrator eye injury during police use of tear gas. It is still as of yet unlikely but if matters continue to progress along the current path the odds will greatly increase. However, even if this benchmark is passed, considering the asymmetrical situation of arms and resources between the PRC and Hong Kongers, "the shot heard 'round the world" phase will remain very unlikely. As an aside, if the unlikely were hypothetically to occur, my usually 80% accurate 5G crystal ball isn't getting a clear signal but what does show most likely failure with only a little likelihood of success at this time with this method. It would be a tragic mistake and should be avoided.

*From my previous post Interesting Times in Hong Kong where I drew some parallels between the earlier phases of the American revolution and the present events in Hong Kong.

What is clear from the previously linked BBC article about four sections down is that about 89% of Hong Kongers do not see themselves as Chinese (people of the PRC) which is the genesis of a separate national identity and the prime ingredient of nationalism. People generally do not like to be ruled over by those whom they view as foreigners even if those rulers are of the same race as the ruled. This is essentially the history of Europe and the United States.

But despite Joshua Wong's assurances that Hong Kong is still a part of China, his calls for universal suffrage insofar as being able to freely elect all candidates for seats in the Legislative Council and its Chief Executive, events will take their own course. It could try to continue with a separate autonomous region in perpetuity which would be a hard and difficult concession to get from Beijing or would open a window for separatists to vote for either offering a referendum on Hong Kong independence if not a peaceful declaration of independence.

There wouldn't appear to be any other alternative.
If there is a significant percentage of Hong Kongers who participated in, or tacitly supported a protest over one criminal extradition bill, think of how they're going to like being fully integrated into the PRC political and legal system in 2047, 28 years away. Joshua Wong and the demonstrators today will be in their late 40's to early 50's and still in the prime of life. It is not possible Wong or any of the others in Demosisto to be fools enough to believe that if they get universal suffrage now that it will still be in effect on July 2, 2048. The Chinese Communist Party are not the sort of people who tolerate citizens who dissent from or want to debate official government policy as would happen in a democratic Hong Kong. The communist system would have to collapse first as had happened to the Soviet Union for Hong Kong to have a permanent democratic form of government which for the foreseeable future is not likely.

As Lincoln said in the opening quote of this post, a house divided against itself cannot stand as it will either become all of one side or the other. History has shown this to be inevitable in the face of public discontent between the opposing sides. Hong Kong will either be fully integrated into the PRC and become like any other city in China or it will be independent. There can be no third way that would last for long.

Ex hic civi Americanum ut Demonsistus, ego vos salutant et forti animi tibi bene vollo.

Donald Cavaioli

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