22 August 2019 — New Eastern Outlook
Recently, the NEO has been looking at the situation in and around Hong Kong from different angles. It is hard to disagree with the viewpoint that the external chaos of recent months in the streets of Hong Kong (which is, among other things, one of the world’s financial centers) has increasingly shown signs of a hybrid war waged against the Second World Superpower.
However, we cannot exclude the multi-layered motivation for initiating these events. In particular, one such motive may be due to the struggle between some of the major financial groups. In this regard, one can note the report on certain problems that suddenly arose in the Hong Kong branch of the financial conglomerate HSBC Holdings.
However, the author in no way considers himself an expert in the organization of the global financial system, as well as its (behind-the-scenes) management, and therefore will refrain from any comment on this message. As a fundamental postulate, let us only assume that the infamous global financial backstage is not only unable to control the historical process, but is also unable to exert any significant influence on it at all. Quite the opposite.
What is certain though is that the situation in Hong Kong is built into the overall picture of increasing global competition between the two world’s leading superpowers, and this competition, in turn, is at the center of the current stage of the Big World Policy (Game).
Last time the author touched upon the Hong Kong issues was a month ago. Back then, some of the expected events of that very game gave one hope that the intensity of the protest rallies in Hong Kong would gradually fade away.
Let us remind the reader that the current stage of the US-Chinese relations focuses on the US claims against China in the trade and economic sphere. Attempts to find a compromise in the negotiations, which turned into a full-fledged exhausting one-year-long 12-round boxing match, were unsuccessful.
Any hopes regarding the meeting of the leaders of both countries, which took place in late June at the regular G20 summit in Osaka, did not come true. After a pause, with some alleged non-public contact between the two leaders, the US President announced on August 1 his intention to introduce tariffs for the entire second half of the Chinese import to the US as of September 1. Previously these goods remained outside the scope of the measures taken between April 2018 and May 2019.
The following day, the Chinese Global Times published an editorial in response, the main message of which was to assert that the new tariffs would not increase the sale of American soybeans to China by as much as 1 kg. This information response was a targeted painful blow for D. Trump, taking into account the election campaign de facto unfolding in the USA.
That is, both of the world’s top boxers assumed a fighting stance yet again. And immediately after that, the protests in Hong Kong intensified, with rallies becoming increasingly audacious (if not impudent). The city airport (with a hub status) repeatedly gets closed and reopened, the first Molotov cocktail is thrown into the police station (one of the policemen suffers burns and is hospitalized), a correspondent of the aforementioned Global Times is abused. There are signs of serious economic costs for the city, whose business is based on social and political silence in the streets.
As in any color revolution, the intensity is gradually increasing, and the nature of the protesters’ demands is also changing. It seems that the initial demands have been forgotten, that is, the apparent reasons for the whole current pell-mell in Hong Kong. And it would be a good idea to remember them.
Thus, it all began with a proposal to introduce a provision to the local legislation allowing for the surrender of persons suspected of having committed crimes (sic!) on the continental territory and hiding in Hong Kong, to the courts of mainland China.
The author does not see in this draft law any meaningful contradiction even with the Sino-British Declaration of 1985, which refers to the continual effect of the judicial and legislative system of the British period in the history of the city (for 50 years after the accession to the People’s Republic of China) on the territory of Hong Kong. When including this section in this document, the parties must have (by default) had in mind Hong Kong residents, rather than fugitives from the continent.
Hardly anyone could have foreseen at the time (and therefore in any way stipulated in the Declaration) the possibility of the current absurd situation when the state authorities would be unable to take the necessary action against the persons suspected of having committed crimes in one part of the country and then fleeing to another part.
But, again, today, the whole story is no longer of interest to those who hide behind the backs of the Hong Kong protesters. After removing the abovementioned draft bill from the agenda, the demands for the unconditional release of all individuals detained during the street riots were first made, followed by the demand for the resignation of the Chief Minister of Hong Kong, Ms. Carrie Lam, and then by the demand for an early dissolution of the local parliament and holding early elections.
There is also an expert opinion that the ultimate goal of the next upsurge of turmoil in Hong Kong is to revise the Basic Law adopted in China in 1997, that is, immediately after the accession of the former British colony. This document regulates the process of gradual integration of Hong Kong into the uniform, country. Hong Kong received the status of a Special Administrative Region (along with Tibetan, Xinjiang Uyghur and Inner Mongolia). This opinion is particularly noteworthy given the popularity of the slogan Hong Kong is not China among the protesters.
It seems that the supporters of this slogan have reliable guarantees of their impunity, while Beijing has (so far) lacked a strategy for an appropriate response to the events in the city. Mainly because of the lack of clarity on the power balance within Hong Kong itself, as well as the condition and prospects of the relations with the main geopolitical opponent.
Meanwhile, the latter generates contradictory signals. On the one hand, some congressmen claim that violence against the protesters is unacceptable, while others suggest that Hong Kong may be stripped of its special status when conducting trade and financial transactions in the US.
Such threats fit into the scenario of the trade war that Washington is waging against China. Therefore, the US position on the Hong Kong events in general is described as gangster diplomacy in Beijing. The use of which by Washington in connection with the events taking place in different countries under similar scenarios, levels out the officially declared goals of encouraging democratic processes.
However, on August 13, it was reported that D. Trump decided to postpone the introduction of the import tariffs on a number of Chinese goods from September 1 to December 15. The resumption of the negotiation process at the ministerial level is also reported. It is said that the reason was the growing dissatisfaction in the US itself (mainly among farmers) with the prospect of problems in the relations with China.
That is, Beijing is given a reason for indecision in the matter of reacting to the Hong Kong events. Which might explain why the tanks and armored personnel carriers, allegedly located (by the satellites) on the way to Hong Kong, have not been deployed in the streets of the city yet.
In conclusion, it would seem appropriate to make two general statements. The first concerns the brushwood of all the color revolutions of the recent years, i.e. young people (including teenagers) who are the main victims of the activities of political crooks who initiate the fight between good and evil.
It is unlikely that most of the Hong Kong protesters, among whom the British flag is so popular, are aware of their country’s recent tragic history. In particular, the fact that Hong Kong was under the shadow of the said flag as a result of one of the biggest crimes against humanity in history: the so-called Opium Wars.
Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997 was an act of historical justice that should be welcomed by all the Chinese regardless of where they live. And also of the fact that today’s China relatively lags behind the UK in terms of the welfare of the population.
All the Chinese have a right to be proud that they live in the second most important world superpower, which has demonstrated tremendous success in state building.
The second statement is due to the fact that only North Korea and Pakistan have so far publicly expressed their unequivocal support for Beijing in connection with the events in Hong Kong.
Is there no one else willing to do the same for their strategic partner at a difficult time?
Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.