Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist


This protester calls himself “Bruce’’ We’ve hidden his face and obscured his voice to protect his identity He’s one of the millions of Hong Kongers taking to the streetsMany people here are wearing face masksPeople are hiding their identitiesThey fear that the government will press chargesWhat started as a protest against an extradition bill… …has become the most serious challenge… …to the Communist Party’s authority… …since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago As the demonstrations enter a third month… …neither the government nor the protesters is willing to back downPolice fire tear gas, rubber bullets……and use their police baton to hit the protestersBut it’s not enough to deter the demonstrators So what happens now?This is a real nightmare for the Communist government in BeijingThey can either crush Hong Kong……or they can tolerate being defied……in a way that undermines everything……about their whole structure of governmentThey have no good choicesHong Kong is one of the most important financial centres in the world And it has a unique status It’s a city in China but it’s not entirely Chinese It has its own currency… …its own passport… …its own legal system There’s even a boundary between Hong Kong and the rest of China… …and you need a permit to cross it This is all down to its history In 1842 Hong Kong was ceded by the Chinese to the British… …after the first Opium War But in 1997 Britain gave it back to ChinaHong Kong people are to run Hong KongWith one important condition… …for 50 years Hong Kong was to be governed… …under what is known as “one country, two systems” The chief executive who runs Hong Kong… …would be appointed by a pro-Chinese committee But the city was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy… …with its own government, legal system… …and economic independence until 2047 Over the past decade those rights have been eroded Fuller democracy, promised as part of the handover agreement… …has yet to be granted by ChinaYellow ribbon means come back, come back democracyEmily Lau was a Hong Kong politician for 25 years Today she still campaigns for democracyThings have deteriorated fast……particularly since President Xi Jinping came to powerSo people are very concernedWe want freedoms, we want personal safety……we want the rule of lawChina’s grip has got ever tighter In 2012 the government tried to install… …a patriotic pro-Chinese education system Then five Hong Kong booksellers… …who sold material banned in mainland China disappeared In 2016 pro-democracy opposition leaders… …were thrown out of Hong Kong’s parliament… …for insulting China when swearing their oaths And then in February this year… …the government introduced a bill… …which would have allowed extradition to the mainlandVery few people in Hong Kong imagine there’s going to be……full-on, Western-style democracyBut they are very angry about the way that……what they believe they were promised……was something much more accountable where……you’d have something close to universal suffrageThe basic social contract……between the people of Hong Kong and their government is breaking downAll this is fuelling the protesters’ angerThe invisible hand from China……are getting more visibleThey are putting more controls on Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracyHong Kong is not ChinaPeople will say to you, “We know that 2047 is coming one day……but we don’t want it to happen now”As the protests get larger and more violent… …the chance of China intervening increases Beijing has made thinly veiled threats to send in its military forces… …the People’s Liberation ArmyThose who play with fire will perish by itAt the end of the day, they will eventually be punishedA few weeks ago nobody seriously thought……we could see another Tiananmen Square in Hong KongNow you can’t rule it outIn 1989 a student demonstration in Beijing ended in massacre Hundreds, maybe thousands, were shot dead For the Chinese government… …the Hong Kong demonstrators are defying the authority… …of a Communist leadership that cannot tolerate defianceFor President Xi Jinping……his kind of north and south, his east and west, is the absolute authority……and total control of the Chinese Communist PartyAnd anything that threatens that must be crushedThey are afraid that it could be very infectious……and they don’t want to see such marches……in the other parts of mainland ChinaAnother fear is some protesters’ demand for full independence But military intervention would be a very risky strategy for BeijingHong Kong for all its woes……is still a very rich world financial centreTo roll troops into that kind of financial centre……would be an economic catastropheIn 1993 Hong Kong’s GDP accounted for… …more than a quarter of mainland China’s Today China’s remarkable rise means that Hong Kong’s… …economic output makes up less than 3% of the mainland’s But Hong Kong remains important for China Multinationals use it as a launch pad to the mainland… …and it gives Chinese companies access to the rest of the worldSo we are very specialWe are a window for China to look to the outside world……as an international city with all our connectionsIt’s very valuable to ChinaSo how the turmoil is resolved matters to more… …than just the people of Hong KongThe government there said the People’s Liberation Army may be deployedBut if that’s the case, the game is overIf China uses lethal force……then you would see an economic crashThere’s 85,000 American expatriates in Hong KongYou would see them fleeing for the airportThis all comes at a time when China and America… …are waging a trade and technology war Bloodshed on Hong Kong’s streets… …would make relations deteriorate even further Beijing is now blaming outsiders for the troubleWe’ve seen remarkably explicit……state-media commentaries telling the people of China……that these protests are not just radical and violent……but are also orchestrated by foreign forcesThe Chinese government resolutely opposes……any foreign forces attempts to intervene in Hong Kong affairsFor the Chinese Communist leadership……what’s happening in Hong Kong is evidence……that as China rises as one of the world’s most powerful countries……that the West is using every means possible to divide and to frustrate ChinaFor China the situation has become much more than a dispute over a law It’s become an existential threat Bruce and the other protesters are holding their breathI still worry what happens next……because the situation could deteriorate very rapidlyChina’s Communist rulers must choose between two mortal dangers… …the collapse of economic stability and prosperity… …or the acceptance that protests can limit the Party’s absolute power




Comments
  1. Join us today at 1pm GMT for a live Q&A with Robert Guest, The Economist’s foreign editor, and Anna Bucks, this film's producer who will be answering your questions about the Hong Kong protests. Here's the link to see it: https://econ.st/31O1rpu

  2. 中国人有句老话可能你们英国人一直不懂:风水轮流转。1840年1897年的事,本来1997年就结束了,不追究了。但看来你们没想两清。中国政府恩怨分明,中国人民也是。何况你们自己屁股上也不干净啊

  3. H.K economy is base on capitalism, funny how Communist China really benefits from it, and uses it to gain access to the rest of the world for trade.

  4. What a horrible situation. Some protesters still assume "someone" in the world will help them. But who exactly? The USA? They are at a trade war with China and are already imposing sanctions. But this is about markets only. They do not care if you are living in a democratic country or not as long as business is running good.

    The UK? Besides their history with China they have nothing to do with the democratic system implemented in HK. Kind of saying: "Here is some personal freedom. Have fun with it. The rest is up to you. Now we are gone."
    No country will directly interfere in HK because this would mean risking a war with China, a country which is a nuclear superpower and has a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. No need to think twice. No, will not happen.
    Maybe you want HK to be an independent country or at least a "state" as they have it in America. Then you need some basic laws which work for all states and some special laws for specific states only. A state-solution might also work for Macau and Taiwan.

    Still China does not want such a solution. As long there is no leverage to force China to another solution regarding HK, Macau and Taiwan why should they stop incorporating these areas?

    HK protester might be many people but they are no match for Chinese military forces. Even if a civil war is kicked of China has the capabilities to deal with it on the long run.

    3:37 The poster shows the "5 demands" HK protesters have to mainland China. Sorry, but these are just naive because they are based on the assumption that the status quo can be maintained. There is no future perspective in these 5 demands.

    If you want to keep the freedoms you have now in HK demand an independent state and negotiate about the conditions. Connect to Macau and Taiwan because they know they will be next.

    This is the legal base you are fighting on:
    Chapter 1, Article 5 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, reads:
    "The socialist system and policies shall not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years."
    So it is HK Basic Law (not mainland China) and it is a capitalist system which is intended to be preserved (not democratic). You might say there is written "way of life" also but this perfect wishy-washy and you can interpret anything into it.
    Also: What will happen after 2047 (HK) and 2049 (Macau) has never been publicly stated.

    Are you kidding me? If I place a glass of water close to the edge of a table in a crowded pub it might fall down. And no one is to blame. UK will not help you HK.

  5. All that is necessary for EVIL to triumph is for good people to continued buying made in china. End made in china 2020. #HongKongIndependent

  6. Still favouring the protesters (eg 1-sided interviews) which is no difference from other western media though, the Economist has kept some final sense of professionalism compared to CNN and ABC. It looks like News, with bias of course, but at least not some cheap Anti-China propaganda.

  7. The Economist is GLOBALIST.. You're just like the CNN, BBC and New York Times of the media.. You are $#¡+ and no difference.

  8. Very rare rich HK guys support the young people especially for those having business interests in china which will definitely hurt their rice bowl. They have a lot of dealings and interactions with china criminal party to get their businesses like Li Shiu Kei, Peter Woo, Da Lau, SHK, New World, Victor Lee whose wealth and $ are over-flooded, why do they still lick CCP's evil ass?

    Few years ago in china my friend was writing in the one and only social media allowed in china about the messing up of HK done by the commies. Immediately a ccp plain clothed secret agent pretending as taxi driver, the only cab strangely stopped before his office at 2 AM picked him up. Normally in the middle of night he has to wait 5-10 minutes for the doorman to go to the main street to call a cab. During the 15 minutes ride the driver was lecturing my friend non stop in a very solemn tone like "father teaching son", bluffing how great China was, that my friend should change his attitude towards china bla bla bla.

    All foreigners including HKers and Taiwanese, their office and cell phones and emails are closely taped and monitored which will be used against the foreigner/HKer or the country he represents like the captivity of the 3 Canadians as a revenge to Huawei's Financial Director case in Vancouver.

    Migrant workers coming from poor cities and villages could only work as doormen or waiters making Rmb 1500 – 2000 monthly in Beijing/Shanghai and were treated like dogs by the arrogant Beijingers and Shanghainese and cost of living there not too far off from Hong Kong.

    I literally saw police kicking and beating up poor old hawkers and their merchandise outside the Shanghai Expo.

    HK is now downgraded to a 1st class commie city. The situation is like Mexico colonizing USA ie a 3rd world corrupted country of no-rule, no-law, no-honesty, no-accountability, no-systems, no-moral, no-respect ruling a 1st world, well developed, well managed place.

    The HK Movement is good though as it is now confirming to CCP and the world that USA is in reality playing the big shot. Trump announced few days ago that the HK situation will be linked up to the US/China trade talk. Trump also warned CCP to respect and follow the Sino British Joint Declaration which CCP claims "history" and that CCP should listen to HK People's demands etc. Immediately following Trump's warning, puppet Carrie Lam announced yesterday 2 gestures as a compromise to the youngsters and CCP's propaganda turns much softened all of a sudden.

  9. What’s the point? So that hk can become another sjw shithole like Singapore, Taiwan, Seoul, nyc, London, Paris, San Francisco, Sweden, Germany, etc? I’d take Shanghai or Beijing any day. At least it leads to long term stabolity

  10. Please note the foreign CITIZENS (350,000 domestic workers excluded) residing in Hong Kong: 300,000 Canadians, 250,000 British (50,000 registered expats plus unregistered 200,000 citizenship granted cos of 1997), 100,000 Australians, 60,000 to 100,000 Americans (US government no long give out data), other European/Asian citizens 200,000 to 300,000. It is important to bear in mind that these close to one million foreign citizens are 90 percent of Chinese descent. As a result the political situation is extremely unique. These foreign passport holders of Chinese decent got their citizenship because of distrust of Chinese Government thus there is an exceptional high concentration of anti-Chinese (political as well as racial) sentiment hence waiving US and British flag during protests.

  11. Right Wing revolution brought to you by the National Endowment for Democracy in order to soften up China for Trump's trade war👍

  12. as a Chinese from the mainland, I want to say I feel quite free and very safe, those protesters in Hong Kong look like the terrorist to me

  13. lel, you really think you are going to be taken seriously, afterall , you are the economist, if you want to build up trust, do this kind of reporting more

  14. They ARE ORCHESTRATED BY FOREIGN FORCES! THIS= just MORE anti -China propaganda. Hey economist, are you guys in with Falun Gongs push for regime change too? I REALLY hate to break it to you, but 1. The Chinese people are a lot more informed than you give them credit for 2. Chinese Mainland citizens are very happy with their system & Govt oh..just for the record 1. There was NO DEMOCRACY for native Chinese before ‘97 and 2. Hong Kongers ARE Chinese, and while they’ve been brainwashed to think the mainland is some oppressive, evil dictatorship, and THEY are somehow MUCH better than mainlanders..sorry kids, neither is true.
    These have NOT been “peaceful” RIOTS; if anti-govt protesters had stormed and vandalized the US legislature, shut down airports, attacked and held travelers hostage, or bombed US police stations—the US would have declared martial law long ago. Personally, I think the govt is being overly restrained because of all this false propaganda. As far as evidence of western involvement? Search Steve Bannon and Hong Kong here on YouTube-there’s videos starting from the beginning of Bannon with Falun Gong, directing, instigating, and offering to continue funding to student leaders. #StopTheLies

  15. The opium wars? Could you mention the british genociding *10e6 in Bengal before decimating it? Making *10e6 opium addicts? Forcefully taking Hong Kong etc through gunboat diplomacy when China tried to solve it? For all the legitimate concerns different segments of Hong Kong have, they're being harm- more than helped by inaccurate historical depictions. Just like your credibility.

  16. Briton should have kept Hong Kong. To remain under imperialism would would have been better then to watch your freedoms slowly be eroded by an authoritarian communist state.

  17. Shouldn't The Economist also talk about the underlying economic cause of this – how extremely unaffordable housing is contributing to Hong Kongers' discontent?

  18. Western media completely misunderstands the date 2047. No Hong Kong won't suddenly become China in 2047! The joint declaration, a document signed by the British and the Chinese government promising HK autonomy will officially end in 2047. But China doesn't recognize the joint declaration anymore and sees it as a 'historic and symbolic' document. So they can and have interfere in HK politics from the very beginning. The highest judge in HK made it clear that HK common law won't end in 2047. The incorporation won't happen over night. It will happen over decades. The date 2047 is irrelevant for the Chinese government.

  19. Facebook closed Chinese accounts. Is this what the West calls freedom of speech? Does freedom of speech mean that the Chinese are not allowed to speak?

  20. Looking at how other countries treat violent demonstrations, China has been patient. We are not opposed to peaceful demonstrations, but firmly oppose the use of violence.

  21. My ins account has been blocked. Is this the so-called freedom of speech? Freedom of speech means that we cannot speak?

  22. Hong Kong demonstrators used violence, beat passers-by, blocked traffic, damaged shops and blocked flights. I think this is intolerable in any country! Behind this lies the political conspiracy of western countries, which uses democratic excuses to control the internal affairs of other countries.

  23. The Americans would love to see HK get more chaotic so they can get leverage against China in the trade deal. Everything happens for a reason, but when you dig deep, you will find human rights and democracy is often the least of it. HK is a rich but uncivilized city. The gap between the rich and the poor is huge. Young people admire western system but most of them have never lived in the west long enough to know the logic behind it. The pressure to make a good living in the city is high. Nothing gets turned on more easily than a bunch of stressed-out young people. So they go for what they believe to be Western democracy. Poor HK. Poor HK people. Once an international financial centre is now a political warzone.

  24. Solidarity to the citizens of Hong Kong, may the brainwashed servants of China's corrupt state loose this struggle

  25. Ironic is that they didn't demand freedom or independence from the British when they had the same chances as such, but from the Chinese government when Hong Kong was reunited. Can we say that these rioting rats in HK worship white supremacy?

  26. Some western media, such as BBC and CNN, are maliciously reporting on China and Hong Kong, China. They say that the police in Hong Kong violently suppressed the demonstrators, but the fact is that the police were mobbed by thugs, who violently destroyed all public finances and randomly attacked passers-by, while some western media distorted the facts and attacked the police in Hong Kong! I hope you go to China to see what the real situation is, people support the police or the thugs. Compared with western countries such as the United States, the police in Hong Kong are very restrained and calm, and the media that maliciously distorts the facts is a typical double standard. Disgusting!

  27. Come on, when it comes to China does any western media dare to speak the truth? Just show the world what those riots really did is enough to piss off most people.
    In the past few months, what happened in Hongkong reveal the hideous side of freedom and democracy.
    BTW, Chinese central government has just announce some special policies for both ShenZhen and Shanghai, so let's see what Hongkong will become in 5 to 10 years.

    Speak less and do more, time will tell if these protestors/riots are really for the good of Hongkong and Hongkong people.

  28. so shenzhen and shanghai will replace it,while hongkong will be burn to the ground,but it will remain part of china😃

  29. To all the viewers here, just pause at 5:40 to 5:43, have you guys seen the flags of China? That 4-second clip was almost the same from the anti-violence rally (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcSaJ47JqhQ)…..

    What a joke to the Economist (😆), another resource of fake news, trying to spread the biased, one-sided views to the people all over the world……Stop spreading misleading news and false information, giving us the truth like CGTN, ChinaDaily, etc.

  30. The integration of Hong Kong into China will be their downfall as 7 million disgruntled citizens will spread the truth about what it used to be to be free to the billion blind puppets in the mainland.

  31. These ppl in Hong Kong forgot that during the British rule , there was a sign written "No Dogs & Chinese" allowed in this park ! Now u want those ppl that equal u to dogs, help u ? I too don't agree on China in the South China Seas, but this affairs is China's right. hong kong is and always will be China's territory…… fullstop !

  32. Hong Kong should push for full independence now. What better time than when China is hurting from U.S. tariffs??

  33. the west specially European indoctrinated contrys run by whites mainly the US and some EU powers use these tactic to maintain some control and supremacy over their host rivals and is Devine and Conquer so to still control china lets cause problems between the Chinese like Hong Kong china vs Ml China and last but not least vs Taiwán china so while the Chinese are too busy fighting each other we can beat them an conquer them….thats the way white supremacy has work for almost 6,000 years in maintaining their power and control…

  34. look at those violent HK thugs smashing up HK… why are people pro protesters?? they are committing crimes that's what Antifa do.

  35. 感谢CIA带来的这次不成功的颜色革命,如果香港一直和平稳定,2047年时则不好改变社会形态了。感谢香港作为实验田,为中国大陆指明了方向。

  36. and this is exactly why nobody should even think about touching the second amendment in th eUS and disarm the European countries like Austria, where citizens have millions of private guns …. tyranny can roll up at your doorstep from one day to the other !!!! If Hong Kong people would have guns, these protests would not happen, because the government would not even dare to pass an extradition law. Maybe, the West should ship millions of assault rifles and pistols into Hong Kong, to give the people over there a chance to preserve their freedom !!

  37. China has to be fought by every western country on every front possible !! The Chinese communist system is the worst thing humanity has ever seen .. the NAZIS and the Soviets (even Stalin) where little brave school boys compared to these Chinese monsters !!!! China has to be brought down onto its knees … just where it has been 30 years ago, before the West built up China and at the same time its worst enemy. Whoever trades with China or does any business with them is a Terrorist and has blood on his hands.

  38. Many in the comments say that the protestors are violent. Last Sunday, near 2 million of citizens went out on the street peacefully and yet the government ignores their demands, the only respond protestors get is that the protest blocks the traffic and roads. How ridiculous is that? If you are blaming the protestors being violent, why don’t you examine the reason behind it?? Why don’t you blame the government of its “violent ruling”??

  39. Meh, interesting but Hong Kong has never been a democracy. They were a colony of Britain for over 100 years. Why are they demanding democracy now when they never had it in the first place?

  40. WHAT!? Tianamen square was CHINESE citizens!!! These are HONG KONG citizens!!! China violates a UN treaty, 30 years early, and you say the protectors are testing Chinese authorities!?

  41. ANTIFA, CLIMATE CHANGE STUDENTS SHUT DOWN WORLD WITH VIOLENT PROTESTS – POLICE STAND DOWN. Hong Kong students protest peacefully for Democracy against Socialism eating country 30 years before UN treaty – police beat them. Economist supports China, not Democracy. Supports Antifa, Climate Change activists' violence for socialism being protected.

  42. China commits organ harvesting for profit, against prisoners Of course Hong Kong – a totally different country, doesn't want that to happen to themselves!!

  43. When Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842, there was no such entity called China. There was the Qing Empire, of which the current territory of China was a part. The Qing Empire came to an end in 1911, breaking into a number of states with some territories annexed by neighbouring countries. The trajectory was similar to the other large empires such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire, etc.

    The present state of China has no legitimate claims to Hong Kong because Hong Kong and Kowloon were ceded to Britain by the Qing Empire, which also leased the New Territories to Britain for 99 years. Qing Empire has since disappeared.

    If Hong Kong were part of China, then Serbia should be part of Turkey and Croatia should be part of Austria. Should England be “returned” to Italy because it was part of the Roman Empire?

  44. Maybe I need go to Hongkong and sell black t-shirt and umbrella. Imagine millions of protesters. Business opportunity.

  45. As usual lots of Western propaganda trying to suppress the rise of an alternative world power besides America. What is interesting is how these young people in Hong Kong are just totally brainwashed and have lost their Chinese identity. So sad and congratulations to the Western media for doing a great job. Lets wait for the next chapter of events.

  46. Other than gaining the support and sympathies of the western nations , if of course they are not the instigators to start with…..what could HK possibly gain by freeing themselves from mainland China .Then there is the matter of strategic and National Security , I cannot possibly see China giving the West another foothold around the China seas

  47. i don't think the CCP has to worry about protests spreading to the mainland because they have total control of the media there. People on the mainland probably think they're terrorists

  48. Do you timber the BLACK DATH carries in ROUME 1875 will it BACK so c go HOME and stay out of the KINGS TOWER'S IN Hong kong China's can't handle it the BLACK DATH cures is going to DESTROY the North Korean Armey and RUCHSA ARMEY i and the Chinese chalice ourdicks is not a JOKE the westniel and the blue clouer and then THE BLACK deaths cures is going to be caning to the riches and power full kings empiers

  49. Hong Kong is doomed. Hong Kong small, PRC big & with no restraint by morality when it comes to maintaining it's power. Protesters/dissidents should flee now, or embrace probably being executed or disappeared into those infamous 'black jails' once the inevitable crackdown comes.

    No-one is able or willing to come to Hong Kong's rescue, as shitty as that is to acknowledge. I hate to say it but protesters who insist on staying are choosing a losing battle.

  50. I hope Hong Kong people win and China gets what is coming to them. You can only suppress the people for so long before they strike back. A cornered dog will bite. I think all foreign citizens should leave Hong Kong, for that have a bigger impact compared to the protests. China doesn't want to lose its window to the world, but their actions shouldn't be tolerated. Let their window close for their actions are too much.

  51. the economist. the same people pushing the gender wage gap myth. NOT a credibe nor a reliable news source. fake news… nexxxxxxt

  52. I just can't understand why western media are so obsessed with pompous words like democracy, freedom, total control and rule of law. For god's sake these things have never existed on this planet for even a second.

  53. Philippines needs to build artificial islands near Hong Kong now it seems like it's the best time to mess with China lol

  54. Interesting that there are many comments equating what's happening in HK to the United Kingdom being composed of 4 countries. Also interesting that all of these are comments are from Chinese accounts. The comparison is a false equivilence on many levels. The opposition against China isnt fundementally about the existence of a union between HK and China, but about the nature of the union itself and the way China is managing the union. The UK has a parliment where each country is equally represented, and there is every reason to believe the UK would honour a vote for independance. The Uk is a system based off mutual gain and a shared history and identity; the China/HK relationship is based on threats and compulsion to the inevitability expansion of China.

    It is usually quite interesting when Chinese people spam a comments section, because their views are so out of touch with reality and usually the Chinese all have the same viewpoints. I dont know if the CHinese government hires people to do it in order to sow confusion into the argument, or if the Chinese people really are that controlled by their government.

  55. It's China's territory, they should move in and take it back. Hong Kong contributes only 3% to the Chinese economy. The protest should be crushed.

  56. I think the main protection Hong-Kongnese wear is that we see them as Westerners. The military occupation of Hong-Kong might trigger stronger reactions than the Russian invasion of Crimea. China may withstand a trade war with the US; but the Communist Party would suffer greatly, if US-allies supported the sanctions policy.

  57. China is an incredible society with thousands of years of history. I do not harbor any animosity towards ethnic Chinese, only the communist party that hijacked their country.

  58. HK is special because it is a gateway for mainland China. But , also China can build gateway elsewhere, but HK don't have an alternative way out.

    Also WHAT DOES SHE MEAN about independence of HK, as a country? or as the colony of UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *