Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Demanding real democracy, not a charade, the protesters in Hong Kong have little hope of winning the argument against Beijing

If the world, or at least that of it that is watching the video from the streets of Hong Kong, thinks the United States and Great Britain are going to speak forcefully on behalf of the protesters seeking a more complete and promised democracy in the elections upcoming in 2017, they are sadly mistaken.
In 1997, Great Britain handed over control of Hong Kong to the Communist Chinese in Beijing, on the condition that two different systems of government, one for the mainland and another for Hong Kong would operate.
Now, the Bejing regime has told the Hong Kong "colony" that, although there will be elections in 2017, all candidates will have to be vetted by the Communist regime in Beijing. That is not what the Chinese government promised to Great Britain in 1997, and it is not what the people of Hong Kong want for their future. According to reports out of Hong Kong, some 60% of the people are in favour of the demands being made by the protestors, while the other 40%, mostly elderly, are preferring the Beijing administration's position.
All protestors have been tutored on "non-violent protests" so that a repeat of the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre does not occur. And so far, those tutorials seem to be working. Under the cover of umbrellas, partly for the rain and partly to avoid the tear gas from police, this new movement crying out for real authentic democracy, sees this as perhaps the only opportunity for them to express their concerns about the future of the governance of their "land." Comprising some 200 islands, Hong Kong has a unique and separate identity from the Communist and heavily controlled society, government and culture emanating out of Beijing. As a former British colony, many of the people speak, read and understand English fluently. They are quite aware of the developments around the world. They are not kept in the dark about their world and its relation to the "outside" world, as the people of Beijing are currently being denied access to the real story developing on the streets of Hong Kong.
There is not only a matter of trust, in the breaking of the commitment made to the British by the Chinese government back in 1997 at stake.  Also at stake is  the future governance of the Hong Kong people who clearly do not wish to live under a communist dictatorship. How the Chinese government responds to this latest threat to their absolute control, especially given the reputation of the most prominent Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China, as an iron-clad resistor to all public protests.
Calling the decision of the Communist government in Beijing, "just like North Korea," the protesters are risking both jail time and further criminal charges, if they are to continue their occupation of the central square in Hong Kong.
On this day of national celebration, there is a cloud hanging over the people of Hong Kong, and the government in Beijing is highly unlikely to remove it any time soon. One of their diplomats, when asked at the United Nations this week about the current state of affairs in Hong Kong, passed off the question by declaring that Hong Kong is part of China, and not a separate entity. Clearly coached in the intricacies of international "diplospeak" the envoy was not about to generate any heat or light for the foreign press to exploit.
The people of eastern Ukraine have seen their region taken over quite literally by the Russian-backed separatists, Crimea being the first casualty, and now the boundaries of Ukraine have literally been redrawn to suit  Russia's Putin. Grabbing a sizeable segment of what was a formerly independent country, given Crimea by Russia in exchange for the surrender of their nuclear arsenal, Putin has insulted the world's leaders and what they call "world order" by his untoward acts.
Now Beijing, too is ruffling the feathers of all those advocating for real and unhindered democracy in Hong Kong, by declaring its intention to provide a list of only those candidates approved by Beijing for the voters in Hong Kong in 2017. As one protesting professor put it on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook this morning, "We are not only upset that the Chinese government has renigged on their commitment to provide free and fair elections in Hong Kong, but we are also afraid that if we do not speak out now, this may be our last chance."
And as for the United States, as the chief advocate for democracy in this instance, don't hold your breath waiting for a strong condemnation from the White House. Remember that China holds a large swath of U.S. government bonds that effectively render them the American banker. Having effectively emasculated the U.S. administration, Beijing is smugly and patiently waiting for the protest to wither on the street and go away, knowing full well that there will be no loud outcry from any other world capital joining in the protest.
Did we say money doesn't matter? Well, it certainly does in this case!

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