IS HONG KONG IMPORTANT? FOR WHOM?

August 28, 2019 – 2:55 am

HOW TO DONATE

Our costs will always be there. So readers who can donate towards the cost of the site, please open a Skrill account. Readers who wish to contribute to BigO will now have to use Skrill (click here). We are no longer able to use PayPal to receive donations. Register an account at Skrill. To make a payment, use this e-mail address as recipient’s e-mail address in Skrill: mail2[at]bigomagazine.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

+ + + + +

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW
To reduce spamming, the BigO website is going through Cloudflare. What it does is scan your browser to ensure the visitor is not a spam. Do not be alarmed as this usually takes only a few seconds. Email us if you still have difficulty accessing the BigO site; or playing or downloading the tracks. If you know a better way of reducing spam, do let us know.

+ + + + +


The Hong Kong protest has been framed as an economic problem by China; the widening gap between the elites and the rest. The protesters themselves claim it is about freedom and democracy and independence from authoritarian China. You can’t solve a problem till you know what it is. By Daniel Warner.

Hundreds of thousands in the streets of Hong Kong protesting the anti-extradition bill for now over 10 weeks; thousands closing down the busy international airport; an influential British parliamentarian proposing to return UK citizenship to Hong Kong residents; Chinese students supporting the government and those supporting the protesters clashing in foreign countries; videos showing Chinese armored personnel and troop carriers moving closer to the border with Hong Kong, threatening a military intervention.

Is any of this important, or is it merely an internal Chinese affair?

While there have been international calls by world leaders for calm and a peaceful resolution of the situation, and while tensions continue over the trade war between the United States and China, most of the world is just waiting to see what the Chinese government will do to stop the protests. Will the situation degenerate? Will the army intervene?

There is another place we should all be watching. What is happening in mainland China? Is there any movement to support the Hong Kong protesters? Although the casus belli of the protests was the extradition bill, the Hong Kong riots have gone way beyond that to include high-priced housing, unfair elections and now police brutality. The extradition bill was quickly suspended by Chief Executive Carrie Lam on June 15, and the protests continued.

The Chinese miracle of economic growth with authoritarianism has been in direct opposition to liberalism. Francis Fukuyama’s end of history proposed democracy and capitalism as the final answers to organizing society. The rapid rise of China called that dual ideal into question.

The Chinese miracle of economic growth with authoritarianism has been in direct opposition to liberalism. Francis Fukuyama’s end of history proposed democracy and capitalism as the final answers to organizing society. The rapid rise of China called that dual ideal into question. The Chinese system of state controlled economics has been successful, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.

With increasing authoritarianism and increasing economic inequality, it seemed that democracy and capitalism were reaching their limits. How Democracies Die by Harvard University political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt is a recent example of growing skepticism about democracy and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate is another example of capitalism’s critiques. The Chinese model, or Beijing Consensus, has been put forward as a counterforce to the Washington Consensus.

“We are all Hong Kongers” is a headline that invites people in the West to support the protesters. What are they supporting? Freedom of expression and other liberal values would be high on the list. But behind that is a rejection of the China model with its authoritarianism and state controlled economics. If the protests spread beyond Hong Kong to the mainland, then it will show that the China miracle has not been successful, and that Fukuyama, even with his later revisions, was right after all.

If the protests spread beyond Hong Kong to the mainland, then it will show that the China miracle has not been successful, and that Fukuyama, even with his later revisions, was right after all.

This plays particularly well at the moment that ideas of socialism have been creeping into the 2020 US presidential election. Candidates self-branded as democratic socialists have been lambasted by the right wing as Un-American, recalling visions of Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) or Steve Bannon’s current iteration with “the destruction of the administrative state.”

If the Hong Kong protests spread to the mainland, the Chinese model will be seen as an unrealistic alternative to free market democracy, fulfilling Fukuyama and right-wing visions of the inevitable end of history.

The Chinese government has been very successful in controlling its domestic affairs, whether by overseeing the internet or censoring the press. There have been very few anti-government activities that we in the West know about. And when they have become public knowledge, there has been considerable support. Those in opposition have become heroes. We want the Chinese system to fail because it is so different from ours.

So whatever the failings of liberalism and democracy, we must be better than some other system. The protests in Hong Kong could be the beginning of something larger. And if that happens, there will be gloating throughout the West to emphasize how even if there are problems within our system, we are better than any other system.

We want the Chinese system to fail because it is so different from ours.

Winston Churchill’s famous quote will be repeated and repeated: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

And all our failings will be pushed under the carpet. After all, aren’t we better than other systems? The Soviet Union collapsed, and now China. Isn’t that what we are hoping for?

Note: Dr Daniel Warner is an American political scientist who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, since 1972. Until 2010, Dr Warner was Director of the Center for International Governance (IGC) at the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development (HEID) in Switzerland. He has served as an advisor to the ILO (International Labour Organization), UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and NATO as well as a consultant to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense of Switzerland. He has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Moscow State University, Hebrew University and so on. His work has been translated into French, German, Russian, Arabic, and Persian. The above article was posted at CounterPunch.
+ + + + +

  1. One Response to “IS HONG KONG IMPORTANT? FOR WHOM?”

  2. A thought provocative comment on the situation in Hong Kong today. I m glad that Dr Warner is not someone paid by the Chinese government to say all the bullshit about the situation in Hong Kong these days. Carrie Lam, wake up! Where has your so-called political intelligence gone?
    Carrie Lam who rode on a wave of high popularity before this bill was over-confident she would waived her magic wand and turned Hong Kong into a more suppressed community under the remote control of China which claims under the policy of one country two systems is giving Hong Kong freedom which in reality is fast diminishing.
    Carrie Lam whose tears for the situation there now are no more than a crocodile’s tears.
    Given a peaceful with law and order well-established society, Carrie,I firmly believe,is absolutely capable of running it well but when the crunch comes along, she simply collapses or simply succumbs to Beijing’s pressure.
    If she really did love Hong Kong, she could just do things demanded by the people in Hong Kong today. If she had what we call guts, she could easily abolish the bill dead and started a fruitful dialogue with the protestors. I wonder, in view of the Beijing government’s traditional stance of not losing face, will she be forced to resign straightaway? If Carrie Lam did care about Hong Kong, she should have yielded to popular demands.
    Had Beijing decided to fire her, it might have been a blessing in disguise as she would have been extricated from today’s turmoil. Get back to the UK and write a best selling book about the real situation behind her and this is the one and only way to show her real love and compassion for Hong Kong if she still has any conscience or decency.
    Blindly following or holding onto this so-called face-saving stance is not going to make her a patriot. History will have a fair verdict on this woman caught in the times of uncertainty only if she really deserves people’s support before all this.

    By Bert Jansch on Aug 30, 2019

Post a Comment