A little background: I’m an Indian citizen with friends from both Hong Kong & China. I’m very sympathetic towards the Freedom movement in HK and really hope you can eventually achieve most of your goals. I have also had considerable amount of conversations with intellectuals on weibo regarding the issue.
Here’s my reflection on the situations so far.
- Lam and her administration has committed a colossal mistake that now Beijing has to clean up. Beijing is by no means happy w/ Lam and the chaos she created.
- Beijing is stuck in a place that they cannot back down from. Backing down would be seen as lack of resolve and commitment. It’s a signal that Beijing would not be willing to send to the mainland populace. The domino effect of backlashes from a soft stance would be very dangerous for Beijing.
- If push comes to shove, Beijing has the ultimate power to crush Hongkong because
- Beijing holds the lifelines of Hongkong, including fresh water, produce, and electricity supply. Albeit holding such resources hostage would cause a humanitarian crisis, it is not unthinkable that Beijing could commit such atrocities. Or even just throttling could throw HK into chaos.
- Beijing is far better at covert operations than they were, say, 10 years ago. The use of triad gangsters and Wumao can only exacerbate from here on, at the same time as the fall semester begins at universities, the student participation in the protests will fatigue soon. In short, Beijing will win this fight by sheer stamina.
Now, painting a bleak outlook is not my main intention for this post. As I said, I’m rooting for HK to win. I just thought that my reflection on the situation would be helpful going forward.
I think in this fight, outside support would be critical for the HK freedom fighters.
The problem right now, is that the entire West will not be lending substantial help to HK. Trump has made it clear that he is not interested in this affair. The Brits are too busy w/ their own Brexit. India is busy defending its own territories in J&K against possible encroachment from Pakistan & China’s meddling into it. And the rest of the west just have too much money tied up with China to pick a fight for an island city.
But I think it’s good to be reminded that the USSR was toppled from within. Not the CIA, not the Ukrainians, not the Polish. The Russians themselves said enough was enough, and so came the collapse of the soviet bloc.
W/ that, I think it’s necessary to take a look at the sentiment of the mainlanders in regard of the situation right now.
The general consensus in China right now is that HK deserves what it’s getting at the moment. Yes, even my intellectual peers are cheering on the suppression, including the triad violence. They think it’s time the HKers got taught a lesson of humility.
To be clear, I am not on board with this sentiment at all. But the practical matter is not be angry but to think about how to win an ally and then to win a fight. So let’s take a deeper dive on this animosity.
For decades, HKers hold themselves at a higher status than the mainlanders, especially since 1997. I understand where this sense of superiority comes from. On average, the population in HK enjoys better education, better economic well being, etc, etc. This sense of superiority inevitably translates into a grandiosity over any mainlander that you come into contact with. As a feeble anecdotal example, a typical HK encounter with the mainlander who speaks only mandarin is “assumed barbaric until proven otherwise”.
This grandiosity is really damaging to the ego of mainlanders as a whole. Imagine that you’re a country peasant that just moved to Shanghai as a trinkets vendor, who’s been deemed as second class citizen for decades. Now that you’re richer and you can afford a lot of things that native Shanghai people can’t even enjoy, you’re still considered a country peasant in your core (乡巴佬). This is exactly how the mainlanders imagine they are seen by HK right now.
I’m not saying this line of thinking is “right” or “wrong”. It’s all about perspectives.
I have tried, in exhausting conversations, to explain to some of my friends in China that the current fight is “HK vs. CCP and Lam”, and got absolutely zero to do with the people of China (supposedly). But they wouldn’t buy it. In their perspective it’s not “HK vs. Beijing” but “HK vs. me”. They hold the belief that this current movement is motivated by HK’s disdain against them, personally. You need to understand, a commoner Chinese citizen, who has not enjoyed a single day of democracy in his/her life, is fundamentally incapable of grasping your strive for “freedom”.
And in turn, instead of being HK’s most powerful friend, the populace is cheering Beijing on to go ahead and crush HK and beat some “sense” and “humility” into them.
The Chinese government is waging a powerful propaganda war against the protesters. They are portraying them as “rioters” (even before there was any violence) and even as “terrorists”.#HongKongProtesters
— Kanthala Raghu (@kanthalaraghu) August 14, 2019
- HK needs allies
- Right now the message is distorted in the mainland. Instead of seeing a struggle for freedom and rights, Chinese populace sees the movement as an extension of HK’s long-standing grandiosity
- We need to clearly redefine the message to the Chinese populace. It’s “you and me together against tyranny” instead of “me against you”.
- This is gonna be a long fight. But it’s a good fight. So dig in and brace yourselves, my brave friends.