No doubt the Communist rulers and administrators right now fervently wish for a piece of fiction to be reality. I refer to Heinlein’s “Hong Kong Luna” penal colony in his novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It was a convenient and distant dumping ground for the political and economic troublemakers of Earth. An increasingly regimented and governmentalized Earth that our world of 2019 seems to resemble more and more.
Beijing is fearful. Months of protests and now violence in the capitalist, free market former Crown Colony are escalating the threat. And so, Beijing sees action as ever more essential. What action is most likely? Massive “police” (read “military”) intervention in the densely-populated city state.
It scares the masters of mainland China and its empire. But at the same time, they fear that such action will destroy the goose that lays the golden eggs. While supposedly NOT as important to the Chinese economy as it was one or two decades ago, Hong Kong is still critical. Even as the unrest and fears erode Hong Kong’s own economy as well as its society.
In part because (despite the protestations of American mainstream media) China is being hurt by the trade war with the Americans – with Trump. It can be argued that no trade war has winners, but that everyone loses. At this point, China seems likely to be a bigger loser than the Fifty States.
And Hong Kong is a massive source of infection for Communist China. Especially the southern portion of the vast nation. In the past 20+ years, it has effectively pushed China from a Communist country into one which can be argued to be Fascist: still highly socialist and authoritarian, but with government (Party, in China’s case) economic control exercised through “private” corporations. And sold as “capitalism” and “economic freedom.”
Hong Kong is still very much an free market economy of entrepreneurs, and (especially compared to the rest of China) a free society with a great deal of personal and economic freedoms. People like that. And people of nearby provinces of China see what Hong Kong has, and want it for themselves. That is human nature: God made us to be free, not slaves and not subjects of governments. But it is the death knell to the power and privilege of the Communist hierarchy that rules the Middle Kingdom. Especially since such bizarre and “un-chinese” ideas like liberty and self-determination and self-government are almost certainly going to lead to a breakup of China. (Or so they believe.)
China’s thousands of years of history have conditioned them to fear decentralization and the kind of fragmentation that Europe has enjoyed since the Fall of Rome. Or even the confederation/federation ideals of the Fifty States or Canada. The periods between strong dynasties have always been filled with warlords and chaos. The idea that peace and prosperity can exist without a totalitarian central government is foreign. Indeed, the poison of foreign devils.
But Hong Kong, Macau, and even Singapore (though not part of China) show how wrong that idea can be. And more and more, other Chinese cities want that looseness and opportunity. To the point that their desire for such may lead them to try and secede. Which is indeed disaster for Beijing and the central government.
And China faces numerous ticking time-bombs of demographics and geography. And other internal threats: the growth of Christianity and Islam within China. The information explosion and wiping out of the firewalls that protect Chinese society from the West.
So it is not going to be unexpected if Beijing chooses to kill the golden goose, desperate to stave off worse things. And that means the infamous “crackdown” on Hong Kong – not just the protesters but everyone else. Heavy-handed and bloody. China is not that long past the bloodbath of the Japanese war, the civil war, the great leaps forward, the Cultural Revolution, and Tiananmen Square. China still executes thousands of criminals (both real and political) a year. Still operate concentration camps. And more. They may start out slow in Hong Kong, but I suspect that effort will quickly spiral up into much worse.
How will the people of Hong Kong react? How will the rest of the world? However they do, it does not spell good news for Hong Kong or China. Or perhaps much of the rest of the world.
At the same time, it might be the opening of vast opportunities. I suspect that many people will flee Hong Kong. Whether that would be an Exodus or a Diaspora is hard to tell. But however it can best be characterized, it means that hundreds of thousands – even millions – of energetic, highly-motivated, skilled and educated people will have to find homes and WILL find opportunities for peace and prosperity – thanks to liberty – in dozens of places. Especially in Southeast and East Asia. But also in South Asia and Africa, and the Americas and Europe.
The world will never be the same.