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Xi’s Dilemma: Send Forces into Hong Kong, or Wait Out Protesters (bloomberg.com)
73 points by JumpCrisscross 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 134 comments
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How is this a dilemma at all? There are two options, send in the troops and forcefully pacify HK or wait and let all kind of mayhem happen. The second choice is a no brainer. Xi's powerbase is in mainland China, and the people there currently have negative sympathy towards protest in HK, not least because they labeled mainland people as 'locust' and waved British flags calling for foreign intervention. HK's economy is also not directly controlled by China, nor benefit China directly, having the protester turn the whole place into shit does not harm China at all, and serve as an 'I told you so' to all of China as to its point on the protester. Rolling in the troop might galvanize support for HK both outside of China and within China, and taking all the blame for past protest and whatever pacifying action the troop did. It's clear as day which choice is superior to the Chinese government.

The troops in Shenzhen are most likely just a threat - if they do roll into HK it will be the worst miscalculation by Chinese government since 89.


An authoritative regime cannot allow open resistance to its power. Idea extracted from [0]. It signals to less-than-loyal supporters of the regime that they can take a bigger slice of the available resources, leading to instability.

[0]: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11612989-the-dictator-s-...


And that is a very non-sophisticated answer to a complex problem. This will not be tolerated in China, but HK is an entirely different story. What you need to do is to actually go into the pro and cons from the perspective of the Chinese government to predict their action, instead of just saying "China will not tolearte because all authoritative government will not tolerate dissent".

China has said they consider the treaty invalid, meaning HK is theirs already. Why would they treat it any different than the mainland?

What? We already know that China treats HK differently from the mainland..

Look, you can call the Chinese govt many things, but stupid is not one of them.


Is there evidence to suggest China sees '89 as a miscalculation? Seems like their ultimate goal was successful.

The fact that the government tries to pretend that it didn't happen suggests that they are at least embarrassed by it.

Yeah, I’m not sure Tiananmen Square was a miscalculation. When’s the last time you heard about a serious mass democratic movement in China?

There was an article some where on the internets, that the protesters in the Tiananmen Square movement are the biggest supporters of the regime now. Given these people benefitted immensely from the China's economic growth after the immediate after math of that movement.

The point is China, not HK. Whatever HK does at the moment have 0 or negative effect in China itself.

The goal is to make HK part of China.

Interesting point, I would say while they have attained their goals since 89, it doesn't mean it's done right even from a Chinese government perspective. 30 years is a long time for anything to happen and I would say most of what happened doesn't relate much to the events in Tiananmen.

While there are more defenses, one chinese official did publicly admit it as a mistake. Unfortunately I can't find a source right now.

But the result of that success is a public backlash that I think they would today prefer to avoid.

1) Was 89 a miscalculation? It went down basically as the CCP leaderhsip thought it would and accomplished the goals that they thought it would.

2) In this case, I think it's likely that military action against HK would be a miscalculation. Governments make miscalculations all the time, though. I'd be curious to know what are the different internal groups and their preferred approaches, as factional politics often drive these miscalculations.


Or the third choice or sending in covert units disguised as protestors, hk police, the triad or whatever else other than PLA troops. Plus a shit ton of modern crowd control equipment china has been working on

> not least because they labeled mainland people as 'locust' and waved British flags calling for foreign intervention

well when that's all the news is allowed to cover, it's no surprise they have that sentiment


how about Chinese living overseas? A discussion a few days ago here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20594103

A regime that relies solely on the threat of violence to maintain its legitimacy, but which is not willing to employ violence, is not going to last very long.

Exactly. It is not really a dilemma. If the Hong Kong people want to protest, let them be. It's their own problem. Mainland may help them if they appreciate it (clearly they don't). If they want freedom, let them be. If you truly love and care about Hong Kong, give it freedom and leave Hong Kong alone. There will be absolutely no forces needed in Hong Kong.

> If you truly love and care about Hong Kong, give it freedom and leave Hong Kong alone.

But this is fundamentally incompatible with the mainland's entire long-term goal for Hong Kong, which is to strip it of all its distinctive characteristics (which are seen as undesirable products of foreign meddling) and turn it into just another Chinese province.

This is why the treaty with the UK that handed over Hong Kong specified that the "one country, two systems" policy would definitively end in 2047. The idea of Hong Kong as a distinct entity with its own political and economic traditions was something the CCP could only swallow if they knew it came with an expiration date.


It is incompatible with CCP's views for sure. However, I don't think their long-term goal for Hong Kong is to turn it into another Chinese province though. Hong Kong has been doing well and prosperous under the current system. Hong Kong people enjoy more freedom, better quality of life. It does not really benefit CCP to turn it into a province which is less prosperous in many ways.

> It does not really benefit CCP to turn it into a province which is less prosperous in many ways.

What? The CCP cares far more about exerting control than about HK's prosperity. Especially now that they have dozens of equally prosperous but politically pacified cities.

There was a time that the CCP felt it benefited from HK's special status, when foreigners were more comfortable doing business there, but those days are in the past.


If what mattered to the CCP was keeping Hong Kong prosperous, why not extend "one country, two systems" indefinitely? Or extend it until such time as a majority of the citizens of Hong Kong vote to terminate it?

The CCP would never offer concessions like these, because this is a question of power, not economics. What matters to the CCP is that Hong Kong eventually be in a position where it can no longer defy it.


CCP has not decided not to extend "one country, two systems" either. 50 years is in the agreement with the UK when Hong Kong was returned to China. CCP has not said that they would not extend it either. I don't see why they would not if it works well for Hong Kong and CCP.

Or, the 3rd option, actually step up and show some leadership. The communist party higher ups just make ominous, nationalistic but cryptic statements. Carrie Lam is hiding in her bunker and she's pretty much a lame duck now. The police leadership could easily step in as an arbiter, but have decided to act as a political arm of the government rather than a professional keeper of the peace. I don't see anyone in leadership actually engaging in public discourse and trying to solve or negotiate solutions to the problems/demands the protesters are placing at their doorsteps - which are real political and economic problems that, not only HK, but the rest of China, eventually have to face.

The events of June 1989 were horrific, but were they actually a miscalculation? China wasn’t quite the world’s factory yet and the fall of communism was just starting around the world. If there was a time that the rest of the world would have imposed consequences on the Communist Chinese regime for murdering their own people, it would have been 1989. Instead everything was forgiven and after five years the US granted China “most favored nation” trade status.

These days China produces an absolute majority of the world’s steel, many individual products like port cranes are solely manufactured in China, Shenzhen is an indispensable center of economic activity to a probably higher degree than even Silicon Valley, and the Belt-and-Road initiative is establishing Chinese soft power throughout the most rapidly growing parts of the world.

At the same time, this is a regime that deals with ethnic and religious tensions by throwing people into concentration camps and brainwashing them into the majority culture, as they are doing with the Uyghurs today. Has that resulted in any consequences for them?

Let’s face it, the “free world” these days is feckless and divided, China has turned into a superpower even since 1989, and the developing world can tell which direction the wind is blowing. Nobody can tell the CPC what to do anymore. And Hong Kong is a “disharmonious” part of China, much like Xinkiang. The CPC has a history of “solving” these “problems” by any means necessary.


The CPC would like the world to believe that nobody can tell it what to do (not least of which for domestic political reasons), but it's not really the case. China may be bigger and more powerful now, but the (media) spotlight on it is consummately brighter.

I'm not terribly optimistic about the developed world's response to a hypothetical Tiananmen 2.0, but I also recognize that predicting what will capture the public imagination is an uncertain business. And in the case of actual worldwide widespread outrage (and accompanying economic penalties), you can look to pre-JCPOA Iran to see how that turns out. Even the US would buckle under that sort of pressure.


Iran has been hijacking merchant ships and shooting down American drones. And it’s not like the world actually needs Iran for anything the way we need China for steel and electronics.

> These days China produces an absolute majority of the world’s steel, many individual products like port cranes are solely manufactured in China, Shenzhen is an indispensable center of economic activity to a probably higher degree than even Silicon Valley, and the Belt-and-Road initiative is establishing Chinese soft power throughout the most rapidly growing parts of the world.

> At the same time, this is a regime that deals with ethnic and religious tensions by throwing people into concentration camps and brainwashing them into the majority culture, as they are doing with the Uyghurs today. Has that resulted in any consequences for them?

This is why I'm for the trade war, and frankly any action that decouples the Chinese economy from more of the world's. It turns out it was a lie that trade brings liberalization, the truth is trade actually protects authoritarians from being held to account (if they're big enough).


I am too, but like you, for entirely different reasons than Trump is pitching it.

I borrowed a heat gun from a friend once, and he gave me a safety brief that could be summarized as, “The important part of the term ‘heat gun’ is the word ‘gun’. Do not point this at something you’re not serious about using it on. It will melt your eyeballs.”

Analogously, the important part of the term “trade war” is the word “war”. We will damage our own economy and our own standard of living if we continue to carry out this trade war on China. We will pay a heavy price. Even if the Rust Belt is once again capable of producing the steel that we are no longer importing from China, we will come out of this a poorer country than we would otherwise. It’s a price worth paying, but we should be under no illusions about such an endeavor providing any net economic benefit.


> The troops in Shenzhen are most likely just a threat - if they do roll into HK it will be the worst miscalculation by Chinese government since 89.

This is CHINA we're talking about... bet on the worst.


That's a good point but most people in the West don't realized that. I can not rule out CPP could use military in future but that's a stupid move.

Exactly. Also the protesters are not doing themselves a favour by blocking the airport; giving up popular support in order to do economic damage.

The problem is that not doing anything signals weakness, as in Beijing stops trying to make a city do something if it protests. China can’t afford letting other cities learn ”wait, so if we protest the CCP would stop trying to forcefullt implement something we don’t want?”

Beijing wants the message to be ”protests lead to nothing but mayhem and disorder, in the end the CCP lays down the law of the land”.


nah other cities are as patriotic as it ever can be at this point.

As a Chinese mainlander emmigrated because BOTH of the Chinese gov and the people, I'm fine with an independent Taiwan or Hong Kong or whatever. With that being said, I find the stupidity in those reportings and conversations around Hong Kong's protest astonishing. It is sad to see illogical media-induced anger has taken the better part of many commenters here at HN as well.

There's no incentive for the Chinese gov to use military force, period. What the protestors are doing is actually pretty beneficial to the Chinese gov. The protest is destroying HK's economy, yes. But HK's economy is actually not vital to China's economy anymore[1]. Instead, a less economic significant HK would be much easier to govern in the long run. China would rather further develop its Shanghai or Shenzhen, than investing into HK.

What's more, the recent trade dispute with US, and the Hong Kong protest, have made significant negative impact on mainland Chinese attitude toward the western countries and idealogies. If there's any internal conflicts and fights for certain types of freedom before, they certainly become muted now. The rise of nationalism is surely making the higher-ups happy.

1. https://www.vox.com/2014/9/28/6857567/hong-kong-used-to-be-1...


I very much agree that most reportings and conversations lack proper context, especially non-Chinese ones (although I refrain from describing them as _stupid_), but can’t help but wondering whether your concluion is also missing some other context.

Reports conflict on how China is faring on the trade disputes, but Hong Kong, being the only place not affected in these trade conflicts, may be too valuable to give up as a worst-case plan, even if it might not be vital in numbers. Even given the same information, a spectator’s mindset can be drastically different than a player’s, since a spectator has nothing to loose, but a player does.

The current Hong Kong incident is really, really complicated not only because of China itself, but also it happens at a very perculiar time. The fact that China chose this particluar time to assert control on Hong Kong (proposing the Fugitive Offenders Bill and providing the sparking point) is also under-discussed, and no-one AFAIK has a good explaination–it can’t be simply stupity, for sure? I certainly would not jump into the conclusion that China has “no incentive, period” to use military force without first understanding all those nuances and much more.


Genuine question, with all the context and nuances you have provided, what positivity would bring to Beijing if they use military force? For me I dont see a militarized HK will help with the trade dispute in any way.

A militarized HK certainly won’t, but China may be convinced they could use military to bring Hong Kong back to approximately its pre-protest state. Hong Kong in its current state would be increasingly less likely to fill the economic role Beijing might need it to. It’d be reasonable to risk military action if they think they can repeat Tiananmen, with (western) countries repeating the appeasement policy on that occassion.

And honestly I kind of feel they actually might have a chance to pull it off. Prominent countries don’t have a good track record reacting to China’s bullying tactics (except Trump, as much as I dislike him).


You think Beijing would think pulling a Tiananmen 2.0 would bring HK into the right track fulfilling its economic role after? I dont think almost anyone, include almost every mainland Chinese would think that way.

If military is involved, economies will crash, hard. Not only HK's economy, a lot of economies will crash. It will be an economic suicide for mainland China. Is there any doubt about that? And that's irrelevant if any western countries intervene or not.

You probably haven't talked to any educated mainland Chinese recently? For the ones who would like to get HK in line and even get Taiwan back, the only feasible way they see is economic dominance over those territories. As a strategy by itself, I kinda agree.

Edit: I dont think PRC depends on HK more economically than emotionally. HK is one of the symbols of western countries invasion 100 years ago. Getting it back has a great deal of emotional value for mainland Chinese. What I see PRC can extract more value out of HK right now is to emphasize the western influence over the protest, making regular Chinese more in line with PRC's world view and values. Anger directed towards other countries rather than introspective is a good thing for the gov if and when there's any hardship inflicted during the trade dispute period.


I agree as much as the next commenter here that HK can’t survive Tiananmen 2.0, but am not so sure about the CCP leadership. And I do have actual interactions with mainland Chinese (although I don’t know whether you’d consider them “educated.”)

> It will be an economic suicide for mainland China. Is there any doubt about that?

Why not? I would most definitely doubt it. Again, I do assume it would crash, but there is absolutely no actual proof that is the case. This wouldn’t be the first time CCP uses armed forces against civillian protest, and on every previous occassion they ended up just fine.


>This wouldn’t be the first time CCP uses armed forces against civillian protest

Europeans have killed how many American Indians and ended up just fine. But can they do that today? Coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada had been legal for as late as 1970s and do they dare to do that today [1,2]?

What I'm saying is the world has changed quite a bit and so do CCP.

>and on every previous occasion they ended up just fine.

Really? For starters during previous conflicts CCP rarely had an economy to crash.

Again, the legitimacy of CCP within mainland is almost purely lay on its power of economy growth. There are many Chinese people who are not content with it but bear CCP because of the economy growth [3].

You probably knew the 2014 Hong Kong protest, which had a similar scale? If CCP can wait that one out, why can't it do it again this time? [4]

1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/forced-sterilization-la...

2. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sterilizat...

3. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20148705

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Central_with_Love_and_P...


"dilemma"? - give me a break! As if this is some kind of crisis nobody saw coming. This is a homemade problem, a dictator facing the results of dictatorship. It's sad the world isn't much louder in its support for Hong Kong.

Yeah, it’s a very poor choice of words. It’s like saying that if I steal a TV and see the cops chase me I have faced a dilemma of keeping the TV but getting caught or dropping the TV to run faster.

Suppress the rights of educated people who value freedom of the press and independent judicial systems and ... what do you expect?


You can burn your house and blame the dictator, but at the end of the day, you burnt your own house. And the dictator's palace is thousands of miles away.

I also see no dilemma, at least not for the "dictator". If the riot doesn't extend to Beijing, and the chance it does is basically 0, the "dictator" is having no trouble at all. HK may rot, but it rots by its own choice.


This is a complicated situation and I don't claim to have all the answers so I'm just offering a perspective here, but it's not at all clear that the world should loudly support Hong Kong. If the world loudly supports Hong Kong, and China sends in the military, will the rest of the world defend Hong Kong? Would that be a good outcome? If the rest of the world stays relatively quiet, it plausibly allows China to let the protesters win without creating the appearance of being cowed by the threat of violence from the rest of the world.

I agree completely that it's a homemade problem and I have no sympathy for the Chinese government, but that doesn't mean it isn't still very complicated from an international perspective. Of course, the right answer is that China just give the protesters what they want, but what's right and what's going to happen don't always overlap and it's not particularly helpful to end the analysis so quickly.


I’m sorry to see you downvoted. Maybe the problem is you use “rest of the world” when you really mean other national governments? It is easy for people to loudly voice support, but the perspective you raised is quite valid for governments to consider. Which is why most government leaders (except e.g. the UK) do stay silent on this very topic.

That’s an excellent point, thank you. I hadn’t considered that, obviously.

>It's sad the world isn't much louder in its support for Hong Kong.

If I could run guns to HK, I would.



I kinda hope someone advocates option 3: Start negotiations to change some of the rules.

Idealistic, I know. But I can still hope.


That's the 'give in' option.

I don't live in Hong Kong. I don't work for a company that has influence in Hong Kong or China. I voted for a different party to handle the US foreign relations. Hoping is about all I, practically speaking, can do.

The world is watching.

Was it watching Tibet as well?

Watching, and sending thoughts and prayers. /s That said, HK is different in that it's China's primary interface with the Western financial system.

> HK is different in that it's China's primary interface with the Western financial system.

Was.

Part of the reason for protests in HK is that it's not as important as it once was, and young people growing up in HK who don't remember the British (remember, HK never had democracy under the British) are at once lamenting the lack of lucrative jobs like their parents had/have and idealising a past that never existed in order to maintain a self-identity that isn't simply 'Chinese'.

Unfortunately this also won't unfold the way the protesters want. China can turn HK back into a fishing village by simply opening up Shanghai and Shenzhen even further, and HK has no real path towards independence. There's literally no sympathy for them on the mainland, no foreign power will intervene, they have no real power.


In the early 1950s? Not that I’m aware of.

Or Xinjiang?

Wait to see what back to school is like come sept. Then they will reassess

Or give the protesters what they want: Liberty and self-determination, and welcome those changes into China's mainland.

This. I have no idea why people thought it's a dilemma of choosing either send forces or wait out protests, but not consider the ethical, correct, and right option of giving what the protesters want.

So you protest to get everything you want? Not all protests are guaranteed to be just. What if the Mainlanders then decide to protest to stop the protests in HK?

I am not saying ALL protest objectives are right. I have no idea why you would generalize that. In this particular event, don't you think what the HK protesters ask for are just?

I think Xi is not well prepared for urban guerrilla. He'll probably wait this out, get prepared for it, and shut up the protestors once and for all the next time they decide to make noise (maybe in 2-3 years?).

Unfortunately in the event of (armed) intervention, I expect the US and Europe's reactions to be similar to the Kashoggi murder. A bit of faux outrage and then everything goes back to normal. Heck, I could even see Trump praise Xi Jinping for being such a strong leader.

I would not say that after Kashoggi murder things went back to normal. Maybe I was following it a bit closer as I was interested in NEOM at the time.

Ever heard of it? Probably the craziest project of the decade. MBS had plans to sell a sizable chunk of Saudi Aramco in order to invest 500 billions (yes, billions) in a prototype of a city of the future. Electricity fully renewable (easy, in the middle of the desert), a special legal status to make a non-sharia law enclave in Saudi Arabia, and, the most interesting: a fully automated production.

Softbank was a close partner, this led to the 100 billions Vision Fund that is a huge player right now. At the time, many companies were circling around that, wondering how to get a share, wondering how they could associate with MBS without appearing to be a dictator's ally. At the time he was cultivating a reformist image, the young guy who tries to make the old monarchy evolve.

But after Kashoggi's murder, MBS himself admitted that it killed the project. That it can't really be talked about for at least a decade. No one wants to be associated with him anymore. Think about it: what company could survive the PR catastrophe it would cause?

I am as cynical as the next guy, but I don't think it is fair to say Kashoggi's murder went unnoticed.

And right now, I am delaying a trip to Shenzhen because of these riots, and I had wanted to explore other providers than Chinese ones for a while, this makes this item go a bit higher in my list of things to be done asap. I doubt I am alone in that case.


And what would the US and Europe do? Invade China? Nuclear deterrence is still a thing.

Other countries could educate their citizens about what is really going on inside China in "retraining" camps.

I am sure there are a huge amount of hard evidence in the intelligence agencies about this.

It could sway public and companies from buying stuff made in China, not wanting to associate with this real-world dystopia.

A Chinese economic slowdown may result, causing severe internal problems for China.


Of course we don't actually buy that many things from Chinese companies. Mainly western companies that use Chinese manufacturing. The 'powers' that control western countries don't want to stop doing business with China.

Apply diplomatic pressure? Or maybe sanctions? I could never see them invading.

> what would the US and Europe do?

Recognise and arm Taiwan.


Taiwan as Taiwan, or Taiwan as the Republic of China?

There is only one UN Security Council seat for China.


> Taiwan as Taiwan, or Taiwan as the Republic of China?

Taiwan can call itself whatever it wants.

Recognising the island’s right to govern itself would be reasonable. Nobody would recognise Taiwan’s claim on the mainland.

> There is only one UN Security Council seat for China

Out of all the challenges around recognising Taiwan, this is like the nine hundredth most pressing.


The issue is that PRC, ROC, and every other country in the world agrees in principle to the “One China Policy”. The One China Policy is the fundamental basis of things. Nobody, even the Taiwanese, is willing to officially accept the notion that Taiwan is not part of China. I suspect that neither China or Taiwan would allow any country to simultaneously recognize both of them as separate de jure nation states.

The United States already arms Taiwan. This is already a huge embassy in everything but its name:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Institute_in_Taiwan


> United States already arms Taiwan

Sales and recognition are restrained to avoid inflaming China. The risk of pissing off China doesn’t balance well against the risk of them invading.

If Xi moves on Hong Kong, however, the latter changes. That makes the former risk more palatable.


Arms sales to Taiwan are also restrained for security reasons. The Taiwanese military is probably heavily penetrated by mainland agents. And if reunification ever occurs, whether peacefully or by force, the PLA will end up with any remaining equipment. So it's too risky to sell Taiwan anything advanced.

The U.S. could enact personal travel sanctions and asset freezes for responsible Chinese officials under the 2016 Sergei Magnitsky Global Human Rights Accountability Act.

EDIT: Don't know why I've been downvoted for answering the question. If the U.S. wanted to reply, that's simply the most likely legal mechanism.


> Don't know why I've been downvoted for answering the question. If the U.S. wanted to reply, that's simply the most likely legal mechanism.

I don't know either. People seem to automatically assume that a Western response means military intervention. That's just unrealistic. The US and Europe have significant diplomatic and economic carrots and sticks at their disposal. As you say, asset freezes and travel sanctions are the most likely as would economic sanctions.


One substantive reaction would be re-invigorating Tsai Ing-wen across the strait, at a time when the PRC is otherwise at the brink of getting the most mainland friendly President of Taiwan ever. That's likely playing a bigger role in motivating strategy than worries about Western responses.

I don't see why your last statement was necessary. Trump has been very tough on China.

They are screwed without an armed populace.

The PRC would love nothing more for this to be seen around the world as a bloody civil war, where both sides have equal power.

Exactly. This is India vs the British Empire, non-violence is the only thing that stands a chance.

> Exactly. This is India vs the British Empire, non-violence is the only thing that stands a chance.

I completely agree. I have been thinking that just thwarting the agent provocateurs and hot-headed protestors would be a giant task for protest leadership in itself. It should actually be priority number one. I admit it's easy for me to say that when I'm not being confronted by police and getting caught up in the fever of the crowd.


> They are screwed without an armed populace.

Say Hong Kong did have something like the 2nd amendment, and more private firearms than citizens just like the USA.

What are the strategies and tactics that these people could use to win a military campaign against the might and weaponry of Chinese People’s Liberation Army?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Liberation_Army


Blow up the bridges to the islands, throw IEDs at PLAs armour and pray for western assistance.

At least they would have a chance. As things stand, if tanks start rolling in, it'll be over before the US manages to turn a carrier around.


IIRC, HK doesn't have a sufficient water supply (let alone food), so all the CCP needs to do to win is put it under siege.

IIRC, one of the reasons the British decided to give it up was that they judged it to be militarily indefensible against China.


Yeah, the Russians meddling with US election is intolerable, but the West assisting HK riot is the right thing to do.

> What are the strategies and tactics that these people could use to win a military campaign against the might and weaponry of Chinese People’s Liberation Army?

Modern warfare hasn’t figured out urban insurgencies. Pot shots and IEDs, sabotage, et cetera would have made China’s occupation of Hong Kong a PITA. It would raise the stakes of invasion from worldwide outrage to having to destroy Hong Kong in a Pyrrhic victory.


> Modern warfare hasn’t figured out urban insurgencies.

Only in a sense of US rules of engagement.

However, look at other less scrupulous countries dealing with urban combat and you will see that while bloody they can pacify quickly.

If you know that resisting means death of your family, you're less likely to resist.

If your neighbour's best way to safeguard his family is to expose every guerilla fighter he knows he will do it.

The thing is, it won't be pyhrric victory, it will be a full and near lossless victory for PLA. Most HKers will lay down their arms because people generally dont want to die in a hopeless struggle and collective punishment will flush out the remaining guerrillas.


You can level a whole block when your troops are attacked and "win".

If China does that, it goes from "that not-fantastic-country that produces cheap iPhones" to "this-is-where-blood-diamonds-come-from".

The way it will act can have a direct and profund impact on its exports and GDP.


I dont think it would have that bad of consequences. Look at what Saudis are doing, they literally are leveling blocks and no one really does anything about it.

Quit the contrary, I just answered to that: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20687962

Kashoggi's murder basically killed a 500 billion dollar project.


Kind off, note this was a prestige project, financial loss of it is probably minimal (now the money will be put in broad market)...

The goal was to compete with Dubai and create a new trade hub on a well chosen place.

It had a thousand ways to fail, but it did mostly because of Kashogi's murder.


> while bloody they can pacify quickly

This is far from universal. Chechnya was bloody. Syria remains bloody. Short of razing a city, we don’t have great tools for fighting urban insurgencies.


Historically:

1. Chechnya WAS pacified when Russians started using inhumane tactics.

2. Chechnya had an organized military to fight Russians.

3. Chechnya and Syria had rebels use military equipment of similar quality as their adversary.

4. Assad and Yeltzin's armies were very mismanaged/poor quality.

I posit that PLA is

1. Actually professional and not disorganized like russian/Syrian militaries

2. HKers will not be able to capture PLA equipment in any significant amounts


> less scrupulous countries dealing with urban combat

Do you have any examples? I'm not challenging you, I just don't know much about this topic.


ISIS conquering land in Iraq and Syria

Taliban taking over cities in Afghanistan

More "police" actions:

China pacifying Uighur and Tibet regions.

El-Sisi pacifying Muslim brotherhood in Egypt.

Basically, intense indiscriminate violence "solves" some problems.


The problem with urban insurgencies is the people who don't carry firearms, not the ones that do. If you can identify the combatants, it is much easier to kill them.

I'm sure the people of Hong Kong would end up better this way :/

> I'm sure the people of Hong Kong would end up better this way

We’re exploring the hypothetical military suppression of Hong Kong’s system of laws and government. Nothing is good in this scenario. The options are coöperation (and likely concentration camps), escape and resistance.


It also has 2 islands. Blowing up the bridges would help too.

> Blowing up the bridges would help too

Hong Kong can’t win a war against China. It’s too vulnerable to blockade. Barring a Berlin airlift, their strategy would be waiting out Xi with urban guerrilla tactics.


Yes, in a comment below I added "and pray for western assistance".

It would at least cause a delay big enough for the west to act.


Urban armed resistance in Hong Kong would be insanely difficult to deal with.

The city is all sky scrapers with tiny winding streets and secret entrances and exits to and from everywhere. Resistance could probably persist for decades unless China were willing to just level the islands and start over.


HK is heavily reliant on trade. All they would have to do is to block the waterways.

It'd be quite easy to starve HK.


Yeah, that's not like China has a history of successful guerilla warfare or if they were studying the precursor of these tactics at school...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong



No, no, no, you have it all wrong. Having guns protects the people from tyrannical governments. Just don't question it.

If mainland China could justify military intervention due to HK's "armed rebellion" they would be happy to do it.

HKs populace, even armed with best small arms, would not pose any significant challenge to PLA.

Kind of like random Texan militias arent actually capable of resisting the US Marines.

With advent of modern military technologies there is absolutely no power symmetry between militias and professional armies.


Kind of like random Iraqi and Afghani militias not being capable or resisting US marines. Oh wait. You’d be surprised what an armed population can do to resist a superior force when it comes to guerilla warfare.

US has very restricted rules of engagement (and good that they do).

When Taliban/ISIS took land they didnt have this trouble pacifying because they were very bloody.


HK is very small; that would worry me. If you have ever been there... I walk everything there; I only take the MTR to cross Kowloon<>Central or the ferry Lamma<>Central. There is some beautiful nature but it is not vast; there is no massive landmass to hide out etc. We are talking 400.000+ km^2 vs less than 1500 km^2... You cannot 'retreat to the mountain hideouts'.

Maybe. Maybe not. The military being ordered to fire at their fellow citizens and ethnic group is very different than being told to kill people they don’t know on the other side of the world.

Morale undermining command and control is a real issue in the military and a frequent issue historically.



This is entirely the US government showing restraint. You do realize they could have easily killed everyone with 0 losses?

Zero losses? No.

Literally the militia was holed up in a compound that could have been erased through missile strikes. No need for exchanging gun fire.

That's the whole point. The military capabilities are very asymmetric.


Yup. All they needed was the lat/long gps coordinates. A strike could have been controlled by a laptop on the other side of the country.

I agree. HK would need Singapore level armed forces to make the price tag high enough for the PLA. If even then.

Hong Kong residents may possess firearms with a permit, not unlike most industrialized countries.

Actually in most industrialized countries one can possess a firearm with a permit. It's just that the restrictions are extreme, and getting one is also extremely difficult.

I'm living in the UK and I could get a rifle licence if I really wanted to, it's just that the restrictions are far too severe. Must be straight-pull that's manufactured that way, not converted. Makes an AR-15 equivalent worth $5k. That is after you have spent a year on getting the permit and other technicalities.

Instead I just travel to eastern europe or the United States every now and then to shoot some guns as the rules are a lot more lax in say, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic and Latvia. In those countries you can generally go to a range and they'll accomodate you. Although ammunition costs about 5-10x what it would cost in the States.


Yes, but

1. in reality only a tiny tiny tiny fraction of the population has such permits;

2. the majority of permit holders are probably members of police/ICAC/correctional services;

3. if I remember correctly, you’re supposed to leave your gun at the gun club anyway, not take it home.


Probably about as rare as Joe Public having a CCW permit in NYC. The registration will be very useful for confiscation.

And now think whether there'd be a "dilemma" if they had the Second Amendment like we do. I think not.

The good thing with a second amendment, from the point of view of an authoritarian regime, is that if you arm loyalist militia to gun down protestors, you have plausible deniability. Look at Ukraine. A lot of weapons in the population, makes it easier for Russia to support a side without direct involvement.

Ukraine doesn't have 2A though. Most of the "weapons in the population" in the hot phase of the conflict there came directly from the military bases where the separatists used to serve. People simply switched allegiances. Some willingly, some not so willingly.

Wrong. Soldiers and weapons came from Russia.

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Yep, I dismiss your incorrect comment.



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