In past years the residents of Hong Kong haven’t considered themselves as belonging to the mainland Chinese culture, political system, and they even have their own currency. This is because uniquely, Hong Kong has created their own system called Hong Kong Basic Law which grants the people residing there certain rights such as the right to protest, free speech, and freedom of the press. These rights aren’t given to Chinese mainlanders due to it being a communist state since 1949. The Chinese officials in Beijing vowed to not impede on these civil rights given to the people in Hong Kong; however, recently these officials have retracted their hands-off approach with Hong Kong, claiming they have “complete jurisdiction.” This issue has been ongoing since March, but protesters, many of whom are students risking their education for this matter, have been marching for 16 weeks for their democratic rights in Hong Kong. In early September, the protestors turned to the United States, specifically President Trump, for assistance. They desperately need an ally in their fight for democracy and feel that reaching out to President Trump would be the best option for them.
The protestors are doing everything they can to appeal to President Trump in order to save the faltering democracy they have left. They are carrying banners or shouting things such as “President Trump, please save Hong Kong” and “Make Hong Kong great again.” Officials in Beijing are aware of these desperate cries for help from the U.S and have made it clear that they don’t want other countries getting involved in this internal dispute. Crowds are waving U.S flags in hopes that the president of the U.S, a nation that has prided itself on vehement democratic values will come to the rescue from potential communist rule. Hong Kong is asking the U.S to pass a bill titled “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” which would call for the recognition of Hong Kong’s autonomous state and cause U.S sanctions on the Chinese government if they were found to be suppressing freedoms. The protestors have claimed that they want the following: “Withdrawal of the ‘riot’ description used about the protests by the authorities, Amnesty for all arrested protesters, An independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, Universal suffrage for the elections of the chief executive and Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s parliament”(John). The protestors are simply asking for the freedoms that they have already been guaranteed to be returned, and they should be granted them.
The United States is unlikely to become involved in this matter due to President Trump’s stance on the violation of freedom occuring. Donald Trump tweeted “I have zero doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it” in August and other U.S officials have only made commentary about the need for both sides to sit down and work things out. The protestors in Hong Kong will most likely have to obtain aid from a different nation or attempt to regain their freedoms back another way.
I believe that the Chinese officials in Beijing should maintain their promise to not become involved in Hong Kong’s preference for a democratic style of government. The economy in Hong Kong is already seeing a decline due to the protests and the inability to use the airport in Hong Kong is detrimental to the economy because it contributes 5% to their GDP. The political turmoil in China is causing companies to lose revenue and Americans and citizens of other nations are being warned about travel to Hong Kong while the protests are taking place. Not only is this hurting Hong Kong, but China as a whole is being negatively impacted, which is why mainland Chinese officials should release this political hold on Hong Kong and continue to let it be autonomous, like was once promised. The protests happening are not sustainable and the Chinese officials must ask themselves, how long can this go on? The people of Hong Kong are reluctant to allow communist Chinese officials have complete jurisdiction over them, and rightfully so, but the dispute between the conflicting ideals is damaging to both sides.
This dilemma in China is connected to a theme in class because we have thoroughly discussed and read about authoritarian styles and changes. China is a communist state and although it is quite unique that Hong Kong runs as a separate entity, this entity’s democracy is being threatened by the authoritarianism in mainland China. The selectorate in China does not include any say from the people, rather it includes various committees and the president Xi Jinping, but the people of Hong Kong want freedoms such as suffrage which wouldn’t be guaranteed if they conceded to the Chinese government. There is potential for Hong Kong to go through a regime change if the protestors concede to the Beijing officials, which is something that has been talked about in class, specifically nations such as Iran that have experienced regime change numerous times. The people of Hong Kong are simply asking for a minimal definition of democracy, as defined by Dahl as some basic civil rights and liberties.
Overall, the ongoing conflict in China will only get worse until an outside power steps in or the Chinese officials concede. The protestors are adamant and determined to remain democratic. The main question for furthering this research would be, should the United States get involved in enforcing democracy in Hong Kong? Only time will tell because the protesters have only recently begun begging for President Trump to aid their fight for freedom in early September. Perhaps another nation will step in, but it is definitely an ongoing conflict that has yet to have a solution.
“Hong Kong Protesters Appeal to Trump for Help.” BBC News, BBC, 8 Sept. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49625233.
John, Tara. “Why Hong Kong Is Protesting.” CNN, Cable News Network, 30 Aug. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/asia/hong-kong-airport-protest-explained-hnk-intl/index.html.
Klein, Brian P. “Why Hong Kong’s Protesters Can’t Count on Donald Trump for Help.” South China Morning Post, 15 Sept. 2019, www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3026885/hong-kongs-protesters-cant-count-donald-trump-he-wants-asia-solve.