China’s socialist polity has outlasted Soviet communism as a resilient form of authoritarianism, and Oct. 1 was supposed to be a major nationwide celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Yet no one could have foreseen that the months-long protests in Hong Kong would have prompted people from all walks of life to oppose police cruelty across the territory, gaining international media attention against the backdrop of the carefully staged National Day parade in Beijing.
The escalating protests constitute the most serious crisis facing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) since he assumed power in 2013. While many Western observers have applauded the spontaneity of the protests by Hong Kongers, little attention has been given to a dramatic change of power relations in the territory’s political landscape.
First of all, the mode of state-society interaction in Hong Kong has shifted from that of being remarkably cooperative to that of being extremely conflictual. Excessive brutality dictates the Hong Kong government’s reaction to peaceful demonstrations.
For months, the riot police have resorted to executive-style violence toward unarmed civilians and have refused to disclose information surrounding the mysterious disappearance and deaths of many arrested activists.
The proliferation of police violence against pro-democracy advocates has eliminated the public’s confidence in government authorities. The most appalling example is of a police officer who deliberately shot a high-school teenager at close range on National Day, the first time live ammunition has been used during the protests. The police prohibited first-aid treatment from being administered to the injured boy and planted evidence on him by replacing the white rubber hose that he carried with an iron bar.
Another notorious case concerns the Hotel Indigo in Wan Chai, which embroiled itself in the crisis and discriminated against people because of their political beliefs. Its management and security team allegedly worked with the riot police and criminal gangs to arrest demonstrators who fled the street violence and sought refuge in the building.
Worse still, Beijing’s determination to maintain top-down autocratic control at the expense of the territory’s self-governing autonomy has made it impossible for all parties to find common ground for negotiation and compromise.
Nonetheless, the months-long resistance reads like a living biblical tale of David and Goliath. Courageous advocates have held flimsy umbrellas to protect themselves from tear gas, police batons and bullets. Their defiance, in the face of deadly threats and attacks, has inspired more people to confront hopeless situations with inner strength and truth.
As a local story in the global struggle for freedom and democracy, the current protests have made history for reasons beyond the public outrage against the morally bankrupt regime of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥).
Following in the footsteps of the US civil rights struggle and pro-democracy movements in Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines, the resistance has become an integral part of everyday life, rejecting the authoritarian system that China has put in place to appease Hong Kong’s business elites in the post-colonial era.
Lacking shared values with the territory’s civil society, the only option for Xi and his handpicked political agents is to draw on China’s legalistic tradition of autocracy to coerce Hong Kongers into submission through harsh and repressive measures.
Faced with a mighty socialist state, Hong Kongers appear to be too weak to achieve an immediate political victory, but all is not lost for them. An outpouring of moral support and sympathy has been echoed globally.
Rather than being a haven of shopping and business, Hong Kong symbolizes a massive uprising against the dictatorial state on Chinese soil. Unless China comes to grips with the territory’s legitimate concerns and grievances, it is bound to confront all forms of resistance from Hong Kongers in the future
Joseph Tse-Hei Lee is professor of history at Pace University in New York City.
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide. Despite countries being under pressure economically and from the novel coronavirus, China’s National People’s Congress last month passed national security legislation for Hong Kong, a decision that has shocked the world. Let there be no doubt: This move is the beginning of the end of China’s plans for “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Proposed amendments to extradition laws last year ignited massive protests in Hong Kong, with millions of participants, shocking the world and making confrontation between government forces and those who opposed the change a permanent part of Hong