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Thread: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuho View Post
    Xi has put himself in a tough position. His anti-corruption campaign and consolidation of power has no doubt made him many enemies who are just waiting for him to mess up. He can't afford to have PLA soldiers shooting people in the streets of Hong Kong. At the same time, he certainly cannot afford to have protests like this popping up in the Mainland. There is simply no way he can back down now. I think we have already seen his next move, as he summoned all the wealthy tycoons of Hong Kong to Beijing for a photo opportunity and a pep talk. As usual, money talks and he hopes by putting economic pressure on those with a vested interest in the status quo in Hong Kong, he can make the business and political community here bring an end to the protests. It will probably work. I know many a banker who aren't happy with the traffic and the market's performance today.

    Let's also not forget Xi is very much in the Putin mold, and has made numerous hints that he believes the Soviet Union fell because the leaders didn't have the heart to stamp out the opposition in 89 and 90. He may be in a lose-lose position, but I think it's clear he will go the Tiananmen route before he will concede to pro-democracy activists.
    I appreciate your on-the-ground analysis from Hong Kong. IMO, China faces a complex challenge with implications that extend beyond the political outcome in Hong Kong.

    China's main goal is to avoid perceptions that it has lost any degree of authority over events in Hong Kong, as that could exacerbate a number of its other challenges. Not too surprisingly, the Chinese government is weighing in with an unambiguous statement concerning its authority over Hong Kong. Reuters reported, "'Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defiantly told a news briefing in Beijing."

    A muddled outcome or failure by the Chinese government to achieve its basic goals regarding the Hong Kong election could further intensify the separatist movement in China's Xinjiang Province and embolden terrorists there to increase the frequency and intensity of their attacks. It could also encourage other Asian states to take a tougher stand regarding China's moves over disputed territories and waters. China does not want to wind up in a worse geopolitical position on account of Hong Kong's events and I believe the Chinese government is very much focused on the larger picture. This, of course, makes significant concessions to the protesters very unlikely.

    At the same time, an overly harsh response, could also have high to extreme costs. After having witnessed events related to Ukraine, the U.S. and European Union might be much more willing to reassess China's longer-term evolution and to slow economic cooperation. Failure to do so, in their view, could give incentives to Russian President Putin to become even more inflexible. A Tiananmen Square-type approach could lead to significant economic sanctions at a time when China is trying to sustain robust economic growth, avoid risks associated with some inflated regional real estate valuations, and address regional debt issues. Taiwan could suspend or even reverse some of its recent expanded cooperations with China and Taiwan's independence movement could gain new force. Asian states facing territorial disputes with China could seek much greater security collaboration with the United States and, if the U.S. concludes China is potentially evolving into a hostile actor, could be more willing to accommodate those concerns. The still vaguely defined U.S. "Asian Pivot" could also gain the kind of concreteness and specificity that has been lacking to date.

    The anti-corruption drive you have cited is also an important element. Outside China there are questions as to whether the drive's goal is solely about stamping out corruption, helping President Xi consolidate power to an extent that some of his recent predecessors have not, or some combination. If part of the goal concerns political power consolidation, the Chinese President cannot afford to allow Hong Kong to defy his approach, even as he is constrained to some extent. A Tiananmen Square-type event would have far larger costs today than it did 25 years ago, given China's domestic and regional challenges (recent more volatile economic performance, growing terrorism in the Xinjiang Province, increasing East Asia rivalry over waters and islands, etc.). Therefore, I don't expect such an event barring a dramatic and sustained escalation of developments.

    In the end, I believe the Chinese government will show some degree of patience, even as it seeks to display firmness and slowly ratchets up pressure on the protesters. I expect that China will pursue alternative measures to a harsh crackdown in coming days or weeks depending on the evolution of events, especially if cosmetic or symbolic concessions prove inadequate, but won't use massive force to break the protests in the near-term. At the same time, it will not compromise on its fundamental approach to handling Hong Kong's political affairs, as it believes it would have too much to lose in the larger domestic and geopolitical frameworks if it is perceived as displaying weakness.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I appreciate your on-the-ground analysis from Hong Kong. IMO, China faces a complex challenge with implications that extend beyond the political outcome in Hong Kong.

    China's main goal is to avoid perceptions that it has lost any degree of authority over events in Hong Kong, as that could exacerbate a number of its other challenges. Not too surprisingly, the Chinese government is weighing in with an unambiguous statement concerning its authority over Hong Kong. Reuters reported, "'Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defiantly told a news briefing in Beijing."

    A muddled outcome or failure by the Chinese government to achieve its basic goals regarding the Hong Kong election could further intensify the separatist movement in China's Xinjiang Province and embolden terrorists there to increase the frequency and intensity of their attacks. It could also encourage other Asian states to take a tougher stand regarding China's moves over disputed territories and waters. China does not want to wind up in a worse geopolitical position on account of Hong Kong's events and I believe the Chinese government is very much focused on the larger picture. This, of course, makes significant concessions to the protesters very unlikely.

    At the same time, an overly harsh response, could also have high to extreme costs. After having witnessed events related to Ukraine, the U.S. and European Union might be much more willing to reassess China's longer-term evolution and to slow economic cooperation. Failure to do so, in their view, could give incentives to Russian President Putin to become even more inflexible. A Tiananmen Square-type approach could lead to significant economic sanctions at a time when China is trying to sustain robust economic growth, avoid risks associated with some inflated regional real estate valuations, and address regional debt issues. Taiwan could suspend or even reverse some of its recent expanded cooperations with China and Taiwan's independence movement could gain new force. Asian states facing territorial disputes with China could seek much greater security collaboration with the United States and, if the U.S. concludes China is potentially evolving into a hostile actor, could be more willing to accommodate those concerns. The still vaguely defined U.S. "Asian Pivot" could also gain the kind of concreteness and specificity that has been lacking to date.

    The anti-corruption drive you have cited is also an important element. Outside China there are questions as to whether the drive's goal is solely about stamping out corruption, helping President Xi consolidate power to an extent that some of his recent predecessors have not, or some combination. If part of the goal concerns political power consolidation, the Chinese President cannot afford to allow Hong Kong to defy his approach, even as he is constrained to some extent. A Tiananmen Square-type event would have far larger costs today than it did 25 years ago, given China's domestic and regional challenges (recent more volatile economic performance, growing terrorism in the Xinjiang Province, increasing East Asia rivalry over waters and islands, etc.). Therefore, I don't expect such an event barring a dramatic and sustained escalation of developments.

    In the end, I believe the Chinese government will show some degree of patience, even as it seeks to display firmness and slowly ratchets up pressure on the protesters. I expect that China will pursue alternative measures to a harsh crackdown in coming days or weeks depending on the evolution of events, especially if cosmetic or symbolic concessions prove inadequate, but won't use massive force to break the protests in the near-term. At the same time, it will not compromise on its fundamental approach to handling Hong Kong's political affairs, as it believes it would have too much to lose in the larger domestic and geopolitical frameworks if it is perceived as displaying weakness.
    As always Don, fantastic analysis.

    I hope you're right that Beijing will not seek a Tiananmen square style approach.

    I was thinking about that yesterday as well and I just couldn't see President Xi or the Central Committee approving such a tactic in this day and age.

    Even among Han Chinese on the mainland I think it would create a real stir, making many question whether the Communist Party really has the peoples best interests at heart with an act of brutality unknown among the latest generation.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Jetboogieman View Post
    As always Don, fantastic analysis.

    I hope you're right that Beijing will not seek a Tiananmen square style approach.

    I was thinking about that yesterday as well and I just couldn't see President Xi or the Central Committee approving such a tactic in this day and age.

    Even among Han Chinese on the mainland I think it would create a real stir, making many question whether the Communist Party really has the peoples best interests at heart with an act of brutality unknown among the latest generation.
    Thanks for the kind words, Jetboogieman.

    When I was in Beijing in June, it seemed that the Chinese people have literally moved on from Tiananmen Square. Their expectations and goals are more focused on their own personal wellbeing rather than democratic reform. The reasons for the evolution are probably complex. What's potentially important is that I don't think the Chinese government will want to risk rekindling the memories of that horrific event, as such an outcome could undermine its domestic legitimacy at a time when China faces a larger array of economic, domestic, and regional issues than it did in 1989.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that coverage of the 25th anniversary was almost non-existent in China. Even coverage that might have attempted to explain the Government's decision was not broadcast. There seemed to be almost a mutual consensus among the people and government that the past should be left alone. A harsh crackdown in Hong Kong could alter this situation and barring extreme circumstances I don't see the Chinese government adopting such tactics.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    I appreciate your on-the-ground analysis from Hong Kong. IMO, China faces a complex challenge with implications that extend beyond the political outcome in Hong Kong.

    China's main goal is to avoid perceptions that it has lost any degree of authority over events in Hong Kong, as that could exacerbate a number of its other challenges. Not too surprisingly, the Chinese government is weighing in with an unambiguous statement concerning its authority over Hong Kong. Reuters reported, "'Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defiantly told a news briefing in Beijing."
    I went to help the protesters last night and there were significantly more people in the streets than on Sunday. Not just students, but people from all walks of life who were upset by the heavy handed tactics of the police on Sunday. Agree or disagree with the protests, most Hong Kongers do see themselves as different from their mainland counterparts, and one of those main differences is the right to assemble and protest without fear of violence by the state. Many don't want Hong Kong to turn into just another Chinese city. Yet, the use of violence by the police against student protesters makes Hong Kong seem more and more like any other Chinese city, which disturbs many people from all walks of life. I talked to a lot of people last night who saw this as about more than democracy. They wanted to draw a line in the sand and do what they could to remind Beijing that Hong Kong is unique and you cannot just stamp out any dissent here like you would on the mainland.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    A muddled outcome or failure by the Chinese government to achieve its basic goals regarding the Hong Kong election could further intensify the separatist movement in China's Xinjiang Province and embolden terrorists there to increase the frequency and intensity of their attacks. It could also encourage other Asian states to take a tougher stand regarding China's moves over disputed territories and waters. China does not want to wind up in a worse geopolitical position on account of Hong Kong's events and I believe the Chinese government is very much focused on the larger picture. This, of course, makes significant concessions to the protesters very unlikely.
    Nothing like this could take place in the mainland. Any political gathering would be stamped out in minutes Literally minutes. According to a few friends of mine in Beijing at the moment, many english sites are taking forever to load (not blocked per se but taking upwards of 3 minutes to load google when other sites work fine) and many social networking sites have been blocked all together. CY made a statement today saying the protests would not change Beijing's mind, but it only seemed to reinforce the point that the chief executive has little power of his own and instead is a puppet of Beijing. I can't see China backing down on this but at a certain point they will have to do something. CY said he expected the protests to last for a while, but it's difficult to imagine how much longer half the island can remain shut down. Banks are closed, schools are closed, and many events for the Oct 1 holiday here have been cancelled. It's already quite a bit of egg in the face of Beijing at this point.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    At the same time, an overly harsh response, could also have high to extreme costs. After having witnessed events related to Ukraine, the U.S. and European Union might be much more willing to reassess China's longer-term evolution and to slow economic cooperation. Failure to do so, in their view, could give incentives to Russian President Putin to become even more inflexible. A Tiananmen Square-type approach could lead to significant economic sanctions at a time when China is trying to sustain robust economic growth, avoid risks associated with some inflated regional real estate valuations, and address regional debt issues. Taiwan could suspend or even reverse some of its recent expanded cooperations with China and Taiwan's independence movement could gain new force. Asian states facing territorial disputes with China could seek much greater security collaboration with the United States and, if the U.S. concludes China is potentially evolving into a hostile actor, could be more willing to accommodate those concerns. The still vaguely defined U.S. "Asian Pivot" could also gain the kind of concreteness and specificity that has been lacking to date.
    Many people I talked to last night spoke of getting their affairs in order to leave Hong Kong should something like Tiananmen happen. This is a global city and many of the residents do have connection abroad, have studied abroad at some point, and have the money to leave should they desire. Obviously that's a last resort for many, but the prospect of Hong Kong coming under the heavy hand of Beijing would drive many to leave. A few people I spoke with last night said many Hong Kongers had already put their affairs in order prior to the 97 handover precisely because of this fear. Already I think the police have over reacted to the point of damaging Chinese policy. Everyone in Taiwan is laughing at the prospect of a "one country, two systems" agreement with Beijing, as it becomes apparent that when push comes to show the communist will do as they please. It should also be noted Hong Kong has a huge expat community. There were plenty of people at the protests from Europe or the USA, and plenty of people at the protests who are employees of big multinational firms and banks. It would be one thing to shoot at students, but I can't see that happening without harming foreign citizens and employees of foreign companies. If that happens then it would be politically impossible for western governments and companies to look the other way, even if they wanted to. Also, unlike Tiananmen, everyone here has a camera or a smartphone with an excellent camera. The imagery would be significantly worse than that of Tiananmen. The larger these protests get the less I think sending in the PLA or using deadly force is an option. It would scuttle everything China has accomplished in the last decade, politically and perhaps economically.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    The anti-corruption drive you have cited is also an important element. Outside China there are questions as to whether the drive's goal is solely about stamping out corruption, helping President Xi consolidate power to an extent that some of his recent predecessors have not, or some combination. If part of the goal concerns political power consolidation, the Chinese President cannot afford to allow Hong Kong to defy his approach, even as he is constrained to some extent. A Tiananmen Square-type event would have far larger costs today than it did 25 years ago, given China's domestic and regional challenges (recent more volatile economic performance, growing terrorism in the Xinjiang Province, increasing East Asia rivalry over waters and islands, etc.). Therefore, I don't expect such an event barring a dramatic and sustained escalation of developments.
    Corruption is a fact of life in China. You don't get to an important position in the party without being extremly competent and greasing a few wheels. Xi could find a small amount of corruption to bring down anyone in the party if he so wanted, and he probably would not have to invent false charges. I think it's clear the corruption campaign is focused on his political enemies, and focused on those who are so outright in their graft that the people notice. He is certainly trying to consolidate power, but Hong Kong presents a serious challenge the that because despite all his efforts to consolidate, he is facing the biggest political challenge to the party since Tiananmen.

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    In the end, I believe the Chinese government will show some degree of patience, even as it seeks to display firmness and slowly ratchets up pressure on the protesters. I expect that China will pursue alternative measures to a harsh crackdown in coming days or weeks depending on the evolution of events, especially if cosmetic or symbolic concessions prove inadequate, but won't use massive force to break the protests in the near-term. At the same time, it will not compromise on its fundamental approach to handling Hong Kong's political affairs, as it believes it would have too much to lose in the larger domestic and geopolitical frameworks if it is perceived as displaying weakness.
    The thing is, I'm not sure how much longer they can allow parts of the city to be shut down. Fortunately perhaps, the Oct 1 holiday is tomorrow and most people were slated to take the day off work anyway. However, that is also a huge shopping day and of course many of the shopping districts are filled with protesters. There is also the concern that many people will choose to spend their day off taking to the streets, which could see the protests grow to record size. It will be sensitive for the next few days here but as you said, I can't see CY or Beijing deciding to take decisive action anytime soon.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuho View Post
    Jackson state in 1970, guardsmen fired on the crowd and killed innocents. You are drawing distinctions where there are none. The fact remains American armed forces HAVE fired on protesters. The Hong Kong police have never done such a thing (yet).


    I'm no CCP apologist, but Hong Kong is not Beijing. And yes, any government would do what the hong kong police did. American police routinely use tear gas and pepper spray on unsanctioned demonstrations. Happened in Ferguson just a few weeks ago. They did it to the occupy protesters in wall street. If you protest without a permit and block streets and disrupt public life, every government on earth will use things like tear gas or pepper spray to try to restore order.

    If the Hong Kong police start shooting live rounds, then I will change my tone. Until then, they haven't done anything to warrant a comparison with Tiananmen and only have responded in the way every other metropolitan police force would.


    No one here is trying to over throw the government. Your point however, remains invalid. Lets not forget about the civil war, where the federal government literally went to war to prevent a section of their country from trying to leave. I just find it amusing that there are multiple instances of where the military actually has killed protesting civilians in the US, while there are zero such instances in Hong Kong. Yet you are the one insisting it can't happen?



    How many innocent people or unarmed people have been killed by the police, just this year, that we got on video. Again, I have to laugh. I don't think the police in Hong Kong have gunned down anyone in years. There are two videos of the police shooting unarmed people in the USA just this week. Like I said, you seem to be throwing a lot of stones for someone who lives in a place where the police regularly take the lives of citizens. That does NOT happen here.




    You shot protesters at kent state. And at jackson state. Hong Kong has ZERO such incidents. Your government shoots 400 citizens a year without trial. The police here almost never shoot anyone. You can argue they are all rioters or criminals, but we actually have video evidence to prove that many of these people were not a threat or were not doing anything to warrant getting shot. You come from a place where there are more instances of police shooting unarmed people on video than there are instances of the police shooting anyone, bank robbers and gangsters included, here.


    Yes, but none of that had anything to do with democracy. Democracy is not equivalent to proper governance. Proper governance does not require democracy.
    You will always run into this with apologists of US excess.

    Some of the students who were shot had been protesting the Cambodian Campaign, which President Richard Nixon announced during a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.[7][8]

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings
    Killing one person is murder, killing 100,000 is foreign policy

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuho View Post
    BBC News - Hong Kong: Tear gas and clashes at democracy protest

    Thoughts? I think it quite unlikely China will back down on this issue.
    I really dont know how this will end since China's leadership views any sort of protest against its rule as something that they must deal with harshly but at the same time the political and economic consequences would be disastrous for them if they attempt another Tienammen square style crackdown. I have some friends in HKG and I hope they are alright.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuho View Post
    The thing is, I'm not sure how much longer they can allow parts of the city to be shut down. Fortunately perhaps, the Oct 1 holiday is tomorrow and most people were slated to take the day off work anyway. However, that is also a huge shopping day and of course many of the shopping districts are filled with protesters. There is also the concern that many people will choose to spend their day off taking to the streets, which could see the protests grow to record size. It will be sensitive for the next few days here but as you said, I can't see CY or Beijing deciding to take decisive action anytime soon.
    At least for the time being, I don't think there's any alternative. A harsh crackdown might shift the silent majority of Hong Kong residents for lack of a better term firmly on the side of the protesters. If so, the issue could become far more complicated. Some residents would undoubtedly leave given the connections you cited earlier. China's reputation as a reliable partner would be damaged, as it would be difficult for China to maintain that it honored the terms of its "One China-Two Systems" commitment. In the wake of any harsh crackdown, there would very likely be economic and political consequences regionally and even globally.

    Nevertheless, I don't expect Beijing to make any significant concessions for the reasons discussed earlier in this thread. As a result, I still suspect pressure will slowly be increased on the protesters for the time being. Efforts will be made to portray the protesters' actions as illegal, violations of the law, etc., but public perceptions will turn on whether the general public believes the protesters' have legitimate grievances for which no recourse was possible.

    In the near-term, I don't think there will be any sudden and decisive effort to end the demonstrations. Whether or not the protests ultimately fizzle with little success in achieving the protesters' goals remains to be seen. Even if they dissipate in coming days or weeks, the protesters might simply shift strategy and attempt to organize a large-scale boycott of the upcoming elections. Such a tactic has been used elsewhere e.g., during the recent Egyptian elections, by opposition movements to try to portray the electoral process and outcome of the elections as illegitimate. Results of such boycotts are mixed at best. For example, in the aforementioned Egyptian elections, the outcome is widely viewed as legitimate despite abnormally low turnout. During the ongoing UN General Assembly regular session, some of the Mideast leaders praised Egypt's political transformation.

    Of course, I could be wrong. But this is how I see things right now.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizuho View Post
    I live in Hong Kong at the moment.

    Here is some reading so you can educate yourself.

    Hong Kong Basic Law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Capital punishment in Hong Kong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Hong Kong has its special privileges at the will of the Communist Party of China. If you think that is not so then you have a hard lesson to learn.
    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he stops voting for the Free Fish party.

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    Re: Hong Kong police clash with pro-democracy demonstrators

    Quote Originally Posted by jmotivator View Post
    Hong Kong has its special privileges at the will of the Communist Party of China. If you think that is not so then you have a hard lesson to learn.
    Not really. You ignore the internal and external constraints Beijing has to operate under. It's much more difficult, if not impossible, to take away rights once they have been granted. That is why Hong Kong still has it's special privileges to this day, and why the communist party does not censor or abuse the people in the manner which they would any municipality in the mainland. Hong Kong is still China's only global city, and still it's window to the world. That is only the case because of the freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong's citizens, and the relative political stability created by Beijing's hands off approach. If the communist party thought it could gain by cracking down it would, but it hasn't because they would stand to lose more than they would gain.

    An immense amount of Chinese firms are listed in Hong Kong and are able to enjoy access to world markets, and the global capital markets, because of Hong Kong's special status. It's a loophole that has allowed autocratic china and it's state run multinationals to do business in a world dominated by free and liberal economies. The communist party cannot freely break the Basic Law or impose it's will in Hong Kong as it would any other Chinese city without repercussions that would only harm China. Let's not forget that Hong Kong is still a Chinese city, destroying it's status as a global financial center and as a world city would only serve to harm China in the long run. People and firms leaving Hong Kong will not be going to Beijing or Shanghai, they will be going to Singapore or Tokyo or the United States. China has everything to gain by keeping Hong Kong peaceful and prosperous. The only rational for curbing the freedoms in Hong Kong would be to prevent such ideas and freedoms coming to the mainland, which no one except the paranoid CCP has any any illusion will happen.

    Put simply, the CCP has shown that it's "will" will never be to tolerate democrats, free speech or political dissent. And yet it does so with Hong Kong. Not because it wants to, but because it makes complete sense to given the constraints they operate under.

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