China’s Hong Kong Problem
The Chinese government is playing for time in Hong Kong in the hope that the demonstrators will lose heart and perhaps the will to resist. But if China’s leaders were as sophisticated as they claim, they would behave very differently.
LONDON – The demonstrations and the political crisis in Hong Kong are now into their fourth month. Every weekend, people take to the streets to protest against their government and the armlock in which China’s communist regime holds it. And for now, at least, there seems to be no resolution in sight.
The political drama began with protests against the attempt by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, to introduce a bill allowing the city’s citizens to be extradited to mainland China. The understandable fear across the city was that the bill would destroy the firewall between the rule of law in Hong Kong and the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC) across the border. After all, it is communist law that incarcerates people in “re-education” camps in China’s Xinjiang region, and jails lawyers and human-rights activists who are brave enough to speak up. Promised a share in President Xi Jinping’s China dream, all Hong Kong’s citizens could see was a nightmare.
An issue that had mobilized two million people to demonstrate peacefully then morphed into something much more complicated. First, the Hong Kong government seemed oblivious to popular concern. And when it eventually announced that the extradition bill was dead, the concession came too late. By then, other worries had fed public anxiety.