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Good morning. Our colleague Vivian Wang helps you make sense of China’s crackdown on Hong Kong.
China’s crackdown on Hong Kong has occurred swiftly: A rising energy has asserted its authority over a world monetary capital, via a harsh nationwide safety regulation enacted final summer season.
It’s one of many world’s most consequential tales, but one typically overshadowed by the pandemic. This morning, I’m specializing in Hong Kong, with assist from my colleague Vivian Wang, who’s based mostly there. Our change follows.
David: Britain handed over management of Hong Kong to China almost 25 years ago, and there has lengthy been a professional-democracy motion there. Why did Xi Jinping and the remainder of China’s management resolve to behave now?
Vivian: The brief reply is the big antigovernment protest motion in 2019, in response to a authorities proposal that might have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
Officials in Beijing additionally hated that overseas politicians, like these within the U.S., had been so vocal in assist of the protesters. Beijing is actually frightened that Hong Kong might be a base for overseas powers to attempt to topple the Chinese authorities.
From Beijing’s perspective, has the crackdown labored? And has it created any issues for the central authorities?
In some ways, it has completely labored. There are no more street protests. There’s intensive self-censorship. Virtually each outstanding professional-democracy activist is in exile, in jail, awaiting trial or has disappeared from public life.
But there’s a whole lot of simmering anger amongst Hong Kongers, even when they don’t dare specific it publicly anymore. They nonetheless store at shops and eating places they suppose assist the democracy motion. That’s why we see Beijing persevering with to use stress. It clearly, and I believe rightly, doesn’t suppose the risk is previous.
As far as penalties, the crackdown has introduced worldwide condemnation, and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officers. The query is how a lot China cares. At the second, it appears to suppose that it’s ascendant sufficient to climate this.
Is the purpose to show Hong Kong into one other Chinese metropolis — one which’s politically indistinguishable from, say, Shanghai — or does the management nonetheless need Hong Kong to be distinct?
The framework that has at all times been used to explain Hong Kong submit-handover is “one country, two systems.” Many folks understood the “two systems” half to be twofold: Not solely was Hong Kong capitalist whereas China was socialist, however Hong Kong additionally was comparatively politically free, whereas the mainland was not.
Chinese officers nonetheless insist that they’re dedicated to “one country, two systems.” But their focus appears very a lot to be on preserving Hong Kong as a separate, hypercapitalist system, not on preserving its separate political identification. Many Hong Kongers have lengthy mentioned that they anticipated their metropolis to become simply one other mainland metropolis finally.
I’ve a tough time seeing how this story ends with something aside from victory for China’s leaders and defeat for the professional-democracy motion. Do folks throughout the motion see any purpose for optimism?
Ever since the security law was enacted, the temper throughout the professional-democracy motion has been bleak. I anticipated at the least some folks to supply fiery defiance and remind folks that there’s nonetheless hope — if solely simply as a rallying cry, whether or not they believed it or not. But fairly constantly throughout folks I discuss to, the consensus is that there’s not a lot they’ll do to alter the state of affairs, at the least for now.
That’s why you see many individuals making preparations to go abroad. And not simply rich Hong Kongers with twin citizenships — folks with no expertise outdoors Hong Kong or who don’t communicate a lot English are doing so, too.
China’s leaders additionally take into account Taiwan to be a part of their nation. But Taiwan, in contrast to Hong Kong, has an unbiased authorities. How do you suppose Hong Kong impacts Taiwan?
Many folks see Beijing’s actions on Hong Kong as a harbinger of, or a laboratory for, extra aggressive actions on Taiwan. It’s all a part of an more and more assured Chinese authorities that feels it might probably take these dangers.
At the identical time, the crackdown is probably going driving public opinion in Taiwan further from Beijing. In the previous, Beijing has additionally proposed reunification with Taiwan beneath a mannequin of “one country, two systems.” Many Taiwan residents can take a look at Hong Kong and see how that has turned out.
For extra: Edward Wong, a Times correspondent who spent 9 years reporting on China and has coated Hong Kong protests, recommends two episodes of “This American Life” — “Umbrellas Up” from 2019 and “Umbrellas Down” from 2020.
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