The pneumoniavirus is having a detrimental effect on China. While Xi Jinping kicks China’s economy into full swing, the rest of the world is on full alert. Manufacturing moves home—whether to or from China. Countries seek alternate supply sourcing. Taiwan shines like a star of brilliance, set up as if to shame China by design. China’s big mistake was going along with feeling shamed, as if by design. China could have played its hand with Taiwan the way the UK did with the American Revolution—claiming it lost a few colonies, but that it didn’t matter. By pretending not to care, the world might not care and China would be unstoppable. Instead, China is taking every step possible to create new enemies and make old enemies worry.
In that wake, Taiwan grows in military and respect, even donating medical masks to other countries. The WHO now faces shame and doubt because of an evermore apparent bias toward China. Australia cooperates with the US in efforts to confront China. Critical voices in China are silenced or otherwise go missing. An employee of Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam resigned, then killed himself. Kim Jong-Un makes more threats. East Asia is more volatile than ever. Times like these are what some call an “opportunity”.
The world is fed up with China’s Communist Party, including people in China. The Wuhan virus is a blame-blaming scandal of a magnitude greater than Chairman Mao. It could crack the foundation of Xi Jinping’s rule and party confidence along with it.
Top down leadership ties the hands of first responders. So does propaganda-driven speech censorship. Of course an outbreak will breakout where people aren’t allowed to respond or warn without permission from the central bureaucracy. For China, it was only a matter of time.
And, the world is fed up. Now Hong Kong, severely underprepared for an outbreak, faces a strike of 6k medical workers and growing—if CEO Carrie Lam doesn’t completely close the Hong Kong border to China. Simply not having the resources to handle an outbreak should be enough for Hong Kong to to close its border. Not doing what simply should be done begs more questions of whether Beijing’s top down leadership is preventing Hong Kong from responding to the Wuhan outbreak, which would be yet another violation of the Basic Law and a breach of China’s treaty with Britain that allowed Hong Kong to return.
Shameless in the face of its mismanagement in Wuhan then Hong Kong, China then asked the EU for emergency medical supplies. The EU would be wise to respond that giving medical supplies would require proper oversight, including an end to the bureaucratic methods of centralized control that delayed containment in Wuhan and keeps Hong Kong in danger. Also, the EU should require China to stop politicizing Taiwan’s need to join the World Health Organization.
Argument could be made that Taiwan and the West are capitalizing on the Wuhan crisis to get more international recognition for Taiwan. But, then it could also be argued that China created that need to capitalize on a crisis to do something that should have been done long ago. In light of the Wuhan outbreak, Canada, Japan, and the EU now sponsor Taiwan’s request to join the World Health Organization as an active participant, not a mere observer. A viral White House petition snowballed past the threshold over the weekend, effectively making the same request of President Trump. Now that Trump has a massive petition to respond to, China won’t be able to claim “interference” when he responds. But, China may try to anyway because, in Confucian Communist thinking, petitions of the people should be ignored.
Hong Kong has presented the world with the ethical question of confronting bullies. Say there is a bully at school who quietly eats whosever lunch he wants, stealing anyone’s homework he wants, until one day someone says something and the bully gets violent. In theory, most people agree that the bully started it. But in practice, when it comes time to stand up to the bullies of life, even the biggest Braveheart fans place the blame for the fight on the one who had the conscience to stand up to the bully. So, are Hong Kong protestors to blame for not going along to get along while China quietly violates its treaty with the UK, denies human rights, and refuses to regulate police conduct?
China says restoring social order in Hong Kong is the “most pressing issue”, but obviously not as important as destroying anything that stands in the way of Chinese Communist hegemony.
In a double-standard, Taiwan is having to adjust its laws to deal with Chinese interference. The CCP is paying news outlets to spread its propaganda in Taiwan. It got caught having a fake news site and is now resorting to outsourcing. The Taiwanese don’t think that publishing what China tells someone to publish is “free speech”.
Xi Jinping’s decision to keep Carrie Lam as CEO of Hong Kong only makes sense, notwithstanding it proves interference by pure definition. The Chinese Communist Party would never dispose of such an efficient creator of chaos. Chaos is always the first phase of the CCP taking over a resistant people; the second phase is to send in the military and—well, do what China’s military does so well. While the Western press explains keeping Carrie as a way to avoid opening a can of worms, the Chinese have much more sinister intentions as history proves.
More crud hit the fan this week, over and over, again and again, evermore. A college student not connected with a nearby protest tried to escape a parking lot just after police fired tear gas, then fell to his death. As expected, police denied any wrongdoing.
A woman rumored to be only 16 years old passed a police station Tsuen Wan where she claims to have been ordered inside, then gang raped by four masked men. Meeting some of the criteria of a rape victim, she found she was pregnant a few weeks after the incident, the young woman was reportedly suffering from depression, and had an abortion last Thursday. The investigation is ongoing, but, in the current atmosphere, police have done little elsewhere to stop such stories from being believable.
Over the weekend, police arrested six lawmakers who effectively filibustered Carrie Lam’s annual report back in May. Six reporters wore Chinese letters on hardhats at a police press conference, spelling a Cantonese request to investigate police. This was in response to two reporters having been arrested. The police department sent formal objection letters to the six reporters’ press agencies. Lawmakers and journalists should be immune to such arrests in order to prevent political interference. But, Hong Kong police no longer wear ID tags on their uniforms, and China says the unrest in Hong Kong started because police don’t have enough power.
Western foreigners visiting Hong Kong have started to join protests. It’s arguably bad form, though it indicates that the world feels a sense of solidarity in standing up to China’s bullying anywhere and everywhere it happens. China sees it as proof of interference while the West sees it as successful marketing from the Hong Kong protesters. The problem with China’s “interference proof” argument is that foreign attendees after the fact do not prove any causality before the fact. But, when being a mouthpiece rather than a think tank has been the habit for so long, Chinese wouldn’t understand the difference.
“Careless” Carrie Lam’s effectiveness in Hong Kong is in the red. After banning masks at public gatherings, more people are wearing masks at gatherings than in the past. She bans an assembly, but people assemble anyway. Protests are so bad, police hit some people guarding a mosque with a water cannon and had to apologize to the imam. Lam was heckled by legislators during her annual policy speech and had to leave the chamber twice, finally delivering her speech on television. A government so defied and can’t govern. But, the need for public trust isn’t understood by Confucianism nor Communism nor especially Confucian Communism.
Beyond loss of control, the West gets the message loud and clear: China won’t back down on its forced expansionism. US Congress continues to pass laws favoring freedom in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. The TAIPEI act is largely symbolic, but still meaningful inasmuch as it gauges China’s response. Evaluating Hong Kong’s level of autonomy to be treated as a separate territory from China makes sense. Still, China considers the US formulating its own international policy a form of “interference”. Think about that…
US international policy must be what China wants it to be, otherwise China labels this as “interference”. This can only mean that China considers the US already under Chinese rule. It’s no longer about whether or to what extent China can boss Hong Kong and Taiwan. Now, the question is whether China should be allowed to dictate another country’s foreign policy.
Another factor is corporate. Gaming companies oust gamers who make “political” statements to defend freedom and human rights, but then Dior gets political by apologizing to China for not putting Taiwan in its map of China. If companies were consistent about being so-called “non-political”, then Dior would have refused to agree or disagree with China. But, this isn’t about being non-political; it’s about agreeing with whatever China demands.
You can’t bring a pot to boil forever. While the conventional narrative for Hong Kong warns, “Retribution is coming,” a better understanding would be, “The Chinese are coming if Hong Kong doesn’t level up.” The protests must either “level up” or otherwise change, or else the PLA will indeed march and smash.
While the situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating into a cultural war—a defense against an invasive culture of Sinicization—talks between the US and China took a similar cultural detour for the worst. China doesn’t want so-called “interference” with kidnapping 1.5 million Muslims in Xinjiang, in Beijing’s view “internal matters”. By that definition, “internal matters” violate international Human Rights laws.
Trump’s words, that all is well in Hong Kong, elude Hong Kongers and Chinese as much as the American media. On the surface Trump appeared to praise the doctored press reports coming out of Hong Kong. He also praised Supreme Justice Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Ford, days before mocking her. Not one main news agency reported Hong Kong’s October 4 de facto declaration of independence with plans for rebellion elections. Praising evidentially censored reports from Hong Kong surmounts to little.
Still, Trump knows the ramifications of his words. By playing along with propaganda China would normally get resistance from, and by staying hands-off, Trump was indirectly telling Beijing that he knows Hong Kong is worse than reported while also letting Hong Kong learn the hard lesson that independence starts with expecting no help from the outside. Over the weekend we saw just that, including smaller flash-protests and perching the Hong Kong “Goddess of Democracy” atop Lion Rock in Kowloon. “Careless Carrie” Lam even cancelled a meeting with Senator Ted Cruz—after his 10+ hour overnight flight landed.
Trump’s words could lead to the very “level-up” game-changer the Hong Kong protesters must make in order to survive. One should guess that Trump doesn’t want Hong Kong to “just be okay”, but to earn whatever independence they get on their own. It feels like rejection at first, but being abandoned to earn one’s own victory—and the spoils with it—is the greater gift of a friend. Trump never said he would squash Hong Kongers’ call for independence; he simply refused to steal their thunder.
The Chinese probably won’t pick up on Trump’s subtlety because Confucianism—especially Communist Confucianism—doesn’t believe anything can happen without outside “help”. This is the only reason Beijing suspects supposed “Western interference” without a shred of evidence.
So, the trade agreement seems to be okay, this week. But, China doesn’t want to be told to let its economy play by the same rules as ours because that too is “internal”. There is one key flaw with China’s thinking: entitlement.
Of course, America should not dictate what type of economy is best for China or any other nation. At the same time, trade is a privilege not a right. By America requiring a free market as a condition for trade with another free market, America is not interfering, but refusing to be interfered with.
Just the same, Beijing claims to reject a “zero-sum game” deal. What they mean is that they want a zero-sum game in China’s favor because they believe being better than everyone else is their right. If America doesn’t lose so that China can gain, China will reject the deal as unfair, just as they did with Britain in the “silver-for-leaves” trade that led to the Opium Wars. Nothing has changed.
The virtue of compromise doesn’t work in dealing with China, whether as an American trade negotiator or as a citizen of Hong Kong. When China demands 100, then we compromise at 50, China will demand another 100 again tomorrow. If we compromise again, it would be 100-0, and it would happen all over again the next day and the next. China will keep demanding to expand and overrun everyone else. By China’s China-favoring standards, the only compromise stands on how fast China takes you over, either ultra fast or slowly. For Beijing, there is no room for the words in the Book of Job where God told the ocean, “Here, and no farther.”
The missile issues in North Korea have too much unknown about them to formulate a clear opinion. From reports, Kim has indeed kept his promise, though he has violated seemingly less significant UN sanctions. Japan is on alert. Trump doesn’t seem to care. If we made a stack of American clothes made in China, then stacked what we don’t know about the North Korean missile crisis, the stack of what we don’t know about North Korean missiles would be higher. It’s unsettling, but sometimes we just don’t know.
Carrie Lam’s response to the “five demands” from protestors will not bode well in Hong Kong. She withdrew the controversial bill. The best illustration from Hong Kongers is a bandaid on a scratch after it turned gangrene. “Too little, too late” is what most are saying. Expect riots and burning buildings in the weeks to come.
Some Hong Kongers will indeed be satisfied with her speech, dare we say thrilled, but others will be enraged that she waited until after three months and a leaked recording. That recording included Lam’s claim that she couldn’t resign and that she had two masters, one of them Beijing. This is contrary to the autonomy required by the contract allowing China to claim Hong Kong as its own. If true, that recording could return Hong Kong to Britain merely in court. The stakes are high. Beijing cannot allow the public to believe that the recording demonstrated any truth. And, apparently Lam can’t either.
If that recording was inaccurate as she said, then she wouldn’t be so angry. Not only did she admit that the recording was real, it made her angry. Her objection to it is the recording’s greatest notoriety. But, Confucian Beijing-minded Chinese don’t understand that evidence speaks louder than spin. They only bake the cake they’ll have to lay in.
Withdrawing the bill will be seen by many as an attempt to counter evidence that Beijing interferes regularly, violating the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. But, the evidence remains, and there are greater grievances.
Lam’s speech fails to address the protests’ demand for her resignation, which is the very subject of the leaked recording, which came just before her sudden withdrawal of the bill. The protestors insist on her resignation and will continue to. When she said that she never considered resigning, she further incriminated herself by proving that Hong Kong does not have its required universal suffrage and that she is part of the reason why.
Some will stop protesting, but those who continue will do so with more veracity. Apart from withdrawing the bill, everything in Lam’s video ignores and insults the protest demands, essentially telling the people what they ought to want.
Telling people what they should want is widely accepted in Confucian society. But, it mixes with the West like water with oil. Lam wants to investigate to find out why Hong Kong rejected what are essentially Confucian values. But, there is no disturbance or interference or social trend to investigate. The conflict arose because the Confucian minds controlling Hong Kong, namely Lam and Beijing, are incapable of recognizing that Hong Kong already was Westernized. The question now is whether William Wallace can defeat Mao Tse-Tung.