Prelude to Conflict: Asia, March 9, 2015


China was doing great. They had it “goin’ on”. Then, they made some choices over the last few years. Now, the Pacific region is foreseeably destabilizing. But the least of those concerns, and arguably the most overrated, is the situation in Hong Kong. Before we review the facts, read clearly; Hongkongers have nothing to fear. Here are the facts: China promised a kind of “contained autonomy” to Hong Kong as a precondition for Britain leaving the former colony.

As history repeated in Hong Kong as in the American British colonies, when Britain left, the former colony prospered. Now, in being consistent with old school Asian rhetoric, China is omitting key phrases during rhetoric that relates to its own promise. Beijing speaks more and more about their power over Hong Kong and less about Hong Kong’s power within its own territory.

The uninformed West, including westernized Hongkongers, misunderstood this old school Asian rhetoric as being a threat. It’s not a threat. It’s just plain, typical old-Asian generational chicken stepping and fist pounding. It’s immature, petty, but, for Hong Kong, it’s harmless. Beijing has no more interest in attacking or harming Hong Kong than a man would want to beat up his own new BMW.

Hong Kong is Beijing’s shining gem, proving that capitalism, not communism, helps a country to prosper. Beijing’s non-communist policies within China helped appease America’s own addiction to buying buy cheap stuff at stores like Wal-Mart. Beijing’s non-communist policy also gave us capitalist success stories, like Alibaba, proving that Western policies work. Beijing has given no indication that they intend to end these prosperous policies, especially in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, with Beijing’s fist-pounding, Hongkongers, who don’t know any better, misunderstood this as a threat. Hong Kong still does not have the full “contained autonomy” that Beijing promised Britain. As observed, even the Crown has become interested. Beijing has, in fact, allowed Hong Kong to move in slow steps toward that “contained autonomy”. The elections scheduled for 2017 will be the first of their kind. The slowness is understandable, especially as sudden democratization caused collapse in both Russia and, as the world now sees, Iraq. But Beijing could have arguably been properly and so wisely slow, even without vetting candidates before elections.

Beijing’s choice to vet politicians carried two important implications, though neither of them gives reason for fear. First, it does rightly seem that Beijing does not make good on their own promises. Second, it would likely have no impact Hongkongers’ day-to-day freedoms.

The Umbrella Movement, which helped merely by getting people thinking and to help Hongkongers value what freedoms they have, encroached on more of Hong Kong’s liberty, by occupying main commuter roadways, than Beijing has ostensibly encroached on freedoms by allowing new elections, but with vetted candidates. The Umbrella Movement was unlike Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement, which mainly interrupted Taiwan’s puppet legislature (puppet because, being almost identical to Communist China’s government, it is not constitutionally allowed to introduce legislation.) As for Taiwan, Beijing’s 1,800 missiles aimed at the peaceful island have been the greatest notoriety given to the otherwise unwarranted fear being marketed to Hongkongers.

The Umbrella’s pushed for more than was theirs to ask for, though it wasn’t much more. Beijing delivered less on their promises than it made, though it wasn’t much less. More importantly, there is no basis to believe that Hong Kong is under any threat. If war breaks out in the Pacific, Hong Kong will probably be the safest and freest place to live, with the brightest hopes for the future because no one would want to hurt the internationally beloved Hong Kong. The only threat is not even Islam or Iran, but ISIS.

An academic and political discussion about Beijing’s promises and Hong Kong’s progress is understandable. But the first priority, even among Hong Kong students, should be to petition Beijing to shift the Communists’ military focus away from Japan and Taiwan to ISIS, to keep Hong Kong safe from its only substantiated threat. If China doesn’t do that, it may be ISIS, not Beijing, that invades Taiwan, then ISIS, not America, that uses Taiwan as the stepping stone to Beijing. It is doubtful that things will go that far before two sorties between China and Japan rearrange everyone’s priorities.

At this point, fear in Hong Kong has no basis. While this could change, it hasn’t. While there will always be newsworthy problems in every country, the fears in Hong Kong are unfounded and irresponsibly reported. Among likely culprits is Jimmy Lai, but there are others. The media knows that fear sells and the West is buying Hong Kong’s news.

The primary country of concern is not Hong Kong, nor even Taiwan, but Japan. Taiwan comes in second place, with regard to concern, contrary to pop superstition of the region. Beijing, like an improperly focused mad bull, blinded by red because he wants to be, is bent on irritating Japan over a few uninhabited islands, while ISIS grows in power every day, right in China’s back yard. Japanese jets are now reported to scramble to intercept Chinese aircraft on a near-daily basis. Taiwan hasn’t had that need yet. Though Beijing’s other promises indicate that it might go that way.

Beijing would easily know that their old school Shame culture would be misunderstood if they left their own country more often and learned about other people. Americans, all the same, would know how to interpret Beijing’s Shame culture if they weren’t so focused on themselves. This is why it is important for Americans and Chinese to visit each others’ regions, not to interfere, but to understand the other guy, so up close and so personal that one can smell his bad breath. That would cause peace.

Knowing each other would make it easy to see that Beijing has not demonstrated that they want war in the region, but that they are unwilling to abandon their old Asian fist pounding, which, has rarely and only ever, succeeded in attaining peace through domination and continued threats. But that is the best Beijing knows to do. Beijing isn’t a bully by choice, but by ignorance.

While the West knows better, the unpopular truth about the West is that the Bible influenced Europe’s and America’s understanding, which taught us that peace comes best through forgiveness, communication, and reconciliation. Beijing has not benefited from 2,000 years of Bible being rammed down their throats, in ways whether fair or unfair. So, the Far East has not known about these ideas to even consider them. With all that American Christians have to say about China, why have they not focused on peace and reconciliation?

Western Bible teachers had the opportunity to present these peacemaking concepts to the Chinese, even Chinese churches in America. But too many seminary teachers and Chinese pastors waved the white flag. Asian Shame culture is difficult to overcome, ask any American-born Asian about the problem. If you read Bible passages about communication and reconciliation to an Asian pastor, he’ll likely respond that it is the “Western interpretation” and that ending relationships permanently and without communication is a fair “Eastern application” of passages like the second half of Matthew 18. Western teachers gave up, much like American Republicans do, especially when they have support from the majority. Reconciliation, communication, and forgiveness are central to the Bible’s teaching, yet these are the teachings that Western Bible teachers have abandoned in dealing with Chinese Christians, even in America.

This was one of many compromises in the American Church, among others, such as American Christians’ constant hate-and-war-mongering, especially amongst themselves. Beijing didn’t want America’s mess, so they made another good decision: Expel the American Church and require that Chinese Christians learn only from the Bible without interference from the war-mongering West. Now, as with Hong Kong’s success, China’s Church is the healthiest, largest, and fastest-growing in the world. They lack one teaching: reconciliation among brothers, the one thing Western Christians have abandoned.

Beijing could learn a lot from the Bible, if Americans would drop their hatred and give only Jesus. Beijing even stands to learn from the teaching of the Pharisees: Love your friends and hate your enemies. Beijing would learn all the more to love even their enemies and pray for them. But, Beijing is largely ignoring their real enemies to their southwest, while focused on beating their brothers to the east.

Had American Christians not compromised on so much, including the need to confront old school Asian Shame culture and teach peacemaking rather than wall-building, Beijing might have learned another way to deal with Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. So, while Beijing bears some responsibility for rhetoric that the West would surely misunderstand, and the West bears some responsibility for misunderstanding rhetoric that was so easy to see as no threat in Hong Kong, the larger blame doesn’t fall at the feet of any government, but at the feet of American Christians for their compromise. As a result, the world now lives in fear, some of it justified, some of it not, and the nations don’t yet know how to tell the difference.


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