This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during ‘inspection visit’
- Hong Kong’s history and culture make it very different from China
Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during ‘inspection visit’
Pro-democracy protests greet Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong on Wednesday (CNN)
China’s state leader Zhang Dejiang, making a three-day “inspection visit” to Hong Kong, criticized Hong Kong protests against Beijing policies. Nominally, the purpose of the speech was to describe Hong Kong’s role in Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative. But there was also an iron hand. Zhang, a member of China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, made clear in his speech that calls for independence of Hong Kong from China would not be tolerated.
Hong Kong residents were promised fully free and fair elections when Britain returned the British colony over to China in 1997. China has consistently stalled on the promise, triggering the large protests in mid-2014 that shut down the business district for weeks. These protests were mostly peaceful, but there were some clashes with police. The protests were called the “Umbrella Revolution,” after protesters brought umbrellas to protect themselves from police teargas.
The particular trigger for the 2014 protests was a demand by China that the “free” elections in Hong Kong in 2017 would be tightly controlled by Beijing. The elections would be “free,” but the only candidates who will be permitted to be run have to be approved a “nominating committee” completely controlled by Beijing. China’s hand-picked Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, announced that there was no chance whatsoever that Beijing would yield on this. ( “22-Oct-14 World View — Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn’t be allowed to vote”)
Now, almost two years later, China’s state leader Zhang Dejiang is making an “inspection visit” to make sure that everyone understands that Beijing has not softened its position:
“‘One country, two systems’ has … won wide recognition in the international community. This did not come easily, and deserves pride and protection.
It should be respected that Hong Kong compatriots treasure their lifestyle and values – in fact, the substance of the One Country, Two Systems principle was to preserve Hong Kong’s original socioeconomic system and lifestyle.
Now an extreme small minority have rejected the country, rejected the Central Government, and even put forward for Hong Kong independence – this is not an issue of localism, but an issue of using the name of localism to separate the country. Is that violating the original intention of One Country, Two Systems? Is this good or bad for Hong Kong? I believe Hong Kong people have their answers in mind.”
Hong Kong’s history and culture make it very different from China
The heart of Hong Kong resembled an armed camp yesterday as thousands of police officers were deployed around the convention center where Zhang was speaking. At the convention center, barricades filled with water were set up to keep protesters at least 100 feet away. Construction sites were halted, trash bins were removed and paving stones were glued together, to keep them from being tossed at police during a riot in February of this year.
Culturally, Hong Kong is closer to the West than it is to China. Hong Kong was governed by Britain from 1857 until it was handed over to China in 1977. Throughout this 120 year period, Hong Kong served as a refuge, an escape from mainland China.
Hong Kong served as a refuge for exiles from China following the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912. After Japan seized Manchuria in 1932 and the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1938, China turned to Britain, with Hong Kong as an intermediary, for help and supplies. As Japan advanced into China in World War II, hundreds of thousands of Chinese took refuge in Hong Kong.
China had a massive, bloody civil war starting in 1934, which was interrupted by World War II and resumed afterwards. Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution didn’t end until 1949, but then the defeated “Nationalist” forces under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Hong Kong, and from there to Formosa, which became part of Taiwan.
So Hong Kong and Taiwan have cultural and historical links with each other. Anti-Beijing protests and riots in one are likely to spur anti-Beijing protests and riots in the other.
A sign of the cultural contrasts is the differences in language. On mainland China, the official language is Mandarin Chinese. The language of the people of Hong Kong is Cantonese, which is the language of the indigenous Cantonese people in Hong Kong and eastern parts of the mainland. The languages of Taiwan, including Min Nan and Hakka, are also indigenous languages.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is headed not only for internal wars with Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also external wars with the United States and other countries.
As I’ve been writing since 2005 (“China approaches Civil War”), China is headed for a new civil war, refighting many of the previous local rebellions, including the huge White Lotus rebellion in the 1790s and 1800s decade, the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s and 60s that killed 15% of the population, and Mao’s Long March that launched the civil war between Mao and Chiang Kai-shek in the 1930s and 40s killed tens of millions.
At the same time, China is headed for war with its ancient external enemies, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, as well as the United States. These two wars — the civil wars and the external wars — will occur simultaneously, as happened in World War II. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party, which is the most paranoid organization in the world, will blame any internal unrest on outside agitators, and may use that as an excuse to launch an external war, in the hope of unifying the country, and attempting to insure its own survival at all costs. Quartz and Today Online (Singapore) and Bloomberg and AP
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Hong Kong, China, Zhang Dejiang, Leung Chun-ying, Formosa, Taiwan, Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek, Mandarin, Cantonese, Min Nan, Hakka
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