Bail on Hong Kong, jump to Taiwan. That’s the move from everyone.
Britain doesn’t bail on Hong Kong, but creates a path for Hong Kongers to bail on Hong Kong. Britain isn’t just walking away. By allowing British Overseas Passport holders to easily enter Britain, British Parliament responds as if 3 million British citizens and their families are suddenly in China—basically treating Hong Kong as if it is truly, fully Chinese. Britain ended its extradition with Hong Kong, making it the same as with China. Britain extended an arms embargo to Hong Kong already in place against China.
This is the part that confuses the Chinese. They want the world to recognize that Hong Kong is China, but when countries treat Hong Kong the same way as they treat China, China objects. Consider the mindset that demands: Everyone treat Hong Kong like China, but you interfere if you treat Hong Kong like China. The Chinese don’t understand how the world is responding. They never thought the world would respond this way. They think the world is simply being mean and cruel.
Staying consistent is not a part of the Chinese Communist worldview. Consulates do passport services and diplomatic visits, not much beyond that. That’s why countries allow them. America says China went way beyond that, claiming evidence of the consulate running a spy ring. Truth or lie, the Chinese thought they could do anything inside their consulate as if they were in Beijing, otherwise they wouldn’t need to burn documents before leaving. They don’t see America following consistent rules by demanding the consulate close; they only see America as starting a fight.
Western nations at least pretend to operate with universal standards and kept promises. They are far from perfect, but at least they pretend to and their voters expect them to. China doesn’t even pretend to operate with universal standards and kept promises. Chinese Communists simply do whatever they decide for each, individual situation, then justify it as either “their right to do what they want” or as “an internal matter” or as “what is best”. If China makes a promise, then decides to break it without any notice, then the people they promised object, China calls that objection “interference”. Following precedent or promises has no place in Chinese understanding of lawfulness.
Now, ask yourself about a government that insists that it is fair to change the rules throughout the game and without notice. What will mid-level leaders within that government do themselves and expect from their leaders above them and from their subordinates below them? Will their military be able to function with a culture where it is right to change rules at any time? Will ship captains prefer battles for the glory over winning the war? Will the West think such a military is a formidable threat or that such a military is inconsistent and easily defeated?
Taiwan certainly sees the Chinese military as a threat, but the Taiwanese apparently believe China’s military can be affronted. Taiwan boosts its own military budget while the US only increases ties. Banks are also looking to Taiwan as the Asian alternative to Hong Kong, which banks are losing interest in since it now appears to be truly, fully Chinese. With so many people running to Taiwan—and taking their money with them—Taiwan won’t lack the budget for defense.
So, ask yourself, with the shift moving to Taiwan, what will the rule-changing Chinese do? And, will China’s rule-changing embolden the West to think that China’s military won’t be very organized?