James Carafano: What Hong Kong Unrest Tells Us About China’s Plans for the Rest of the World

Medical staff stage a protest against police brutality on the protesters, at a hospital in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. Demonstrators have in recent days focused on their demand for an independent inquiry into what they call the police’s abuse of power and negligence. That followed reports and circulating video footage of violent arrests and injuries sustained by protesters. The signs read “Why no one mentions about tear gas?,” bottom left and “Using tear gas at indoor, who is the actual murderer,” bottom right. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The outside world can do little to assure the future of freedom in Hong Kong beyond making the case that preserving the principles of liberty are at stake. Nevertheless, the plight of that territory’s more than 7 million souls can teach us an important lesson about what China has in mind for the rest of the world. It is not good.

For starters, the continuing protests speak volumes about China’s commitment to “one country two systems.” When the British transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing agreed to this arrangement. It guaranteed that Hong Kong would be allowed to maintain its own governance and economic system.

The Hong Kong system—one of great economic freedom–has produced tremendous economic success. But economic freedom is no more popular than political freedom among the Chinese Communist Party. And in recent years, Chinese authorities have been encroaching on the rights supposedly guaranteed to Hong Kongers under the “one country, two systems” agreement.

Matters came to a head this April, when the Hong Kong government, under heavy pressure from Beijing, introduced legislation that would allow people accused of crimes against mainland China to be extradited. The proposal set off alarms among residents who know well that the mainland’s thoroughly politicized legal system is not to be trusted.

Fear that Beijing would quickly weaponize the proposed law to target democracy activists and journalists sparked massive protests. Efforts to suppress the demonstrations have only ignited more public demonstrations.

The protests also tell us a lot about mainland China. There is one strain of thought that Beijing, while quite happy to bully Hong Kong, would not be so rash as to put down the protests with harsh military action. That kind of response repulsed the world when the Soviets did it, ultimately leading to the break-up of the USSR.

Yet many observers fear that Beijing will step in and crackdown on the demonstrators. After all, they note, the USSR’s demise didn’t stop the People’s Army from rolling tanks into Tiananmen Square.

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Source: Fox News