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I am in Verona (Italy) at this time, and I'm in a hotel where some tourists from Shanghai happen to be as well. I'm alone, so I hang out in the lobby a lot. I just engaged in some small talk with some of those tourists, and the discussion somehow shifted to the Hong Kong protests.

Basically what they sad is that western culture in Hong Kong clashes with the chinese culture. They don't seem to say that the chinese way is the right way, or that the western culture is the one to accept. They just say that they are different, and that of course a shift in culture is difficult for Hong Kongers. They think it will all pan out somehow: Hong Kong has to accept that they are Chinese now, and accept all the consequences that come with that.

I understand that the viewpoint of hn, a very USA oriented site, is different, and that most people here think that the libery of HK people should not be taken away from them because democracy is the only way, but I think the chinese point of view should be heard as well, and should be taken into consideration to get a better understanding of everything that is happening.

My personal opinion on this is that China should just let them keep their autonomy, and let them be Hong Kong: a state by it's own with it's own rules and laws.




Let’s replace China with X so there is no xenophobic rebuttals.

X is an authoritarian regime that has no rule of law, president has self declared perpetual status in the office, piracy is rampant, no respect for privacy of others, there is an app called ourchat that is effectively owned by the government and is increasing becoming a necessity, no media let alone any kind of investigative journalism especially against the government, your social score goes down if you buy a particular book, you cannot sue the government or even think about it, punishment can include selling your organs for arbitrary reasons, the list goes on and on.

If X were an impoverished country like Somalia, the tune would change and most people would condemn such a society. I want to do so fearlessly but sometimes people see it as an attack against the Chinese people. I’ve been to China and have spent many months there, made lifelong relations, etc. I have no room for any concession or bargain for the argument that authoritarian rule has benefits - yes it does but at aforementioned costs. China has risen above due to government’s iron grip over every aspect of the country. It is doing so at a cost. Fundamentals don’t change even if one sees the strategy panning out. An eagle in the world of doves can kill a lot of doves and have short term evolutionary imbalance. But soon, the marginal cost of turning into an eagle is so small so there are new eagles popping up in the population all of a sudden. This balance oscillates in the short term, but evolutionary pressure returns it back to an equilibrium. Fundamentals of eagle and dove dynamics don’t change even though the state of this system shows “success”.

I’m in the position to criticize any authoritarian regimes in the strongest way possible - be it China or any other country, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to die seeing this world turn into a power grab for a few with a consequence of a dystopian society. I wish the next superpower would be a country such as Norway or Sweden, it would set such a utopian example for the world to move into the right direction.


I think you can take one more step backwards and still have an argument.

X is a huge country. Y is a small island/peninsula nearby, with shared cultural roots, but very different recent history (decades to centuries) and different government & economic structure. People living in Y are free to leave Y and move to X. Then I think it's better if Y continues to exist.

Even if Y is worse on some measures, e.g. if it were Y that had an "authoritarian regime that has no rule of law, president has self declared perpetual status ", then I'd like it to continue. It's good to have a diversity of approaches to problems. Even if Y gets 90% wrong, maybe it discovers something in the 10% right, or maybe it's just an interesting study in what not to do. Its people are (by assumption!) free to leave, and have a culturally similar neighbor that will take them.


> An eagle in the world of doves can kill a lot of doves and have short term evolutionary imbalance. But soon, the marginal cost of turning into an eagle is so small so there are new eagles popping up in the population all of a sudden.

This looks like a reference to the Hawk-Dove game. For those who haven't heard of it:

You have a population of two groups, hawks and doves. When they come into conflict (say, over a source of food), two doves will spend a lot of time staring each other down (each incurring a minor fitness penalty), and two hawks will fight (each incurring a major fitness penalty), but a dove facing a hawk will immediately surrender, incurring no penalty at all.

Depending on the amounts involved, there is a percentage of hawks which maximizes the total benefit enjoyed by the population, and that percentage is more than zero. A few hawks save a lot of doves time they could spend doing more productive things.

What I find interesting about this game is how it interacts with some popular notions of government. A traditional utilitarian perspective is that the purpose of government is to maximize the welfare of society. As applied to the hawk-dove game, that would mean the government should anoint some people "hawks" and set rules that mean a hawk in conflict with a dove automatically wins, regardless of the merits of the conflict. This is a pretty traditional aristocracy setup. It would then be the business of the government to make sure the number of nobles stayed within an appropriate margin relative to the number of commoners.

But another very popular model of the government says that it should make sure everything is fair. ("All men are equal before the law.") That would mean abolishing the concept of the nobility's inherent superiority to commoners, ensuring that everyone is a dove. It sounds better, but in terms of societal welfare, it's worse.


>It sounds better, but in terms of societal welfare, it's worse.

Within the very contrived confines of the hawk-dove model sure, but I highly doubt that the hawk-dove game is a particularly useful model for society as a whole.


Thanks for the additional insight, I learned about this type of strategy in "The Selfish Gene", by Richard Dawkins. Although, I personally don't think that the analogy alone can describe an incredibly complex structure such as the global society.


Norway is a petro-economy. That doesn't really work as a role model for countries that don't have vast easily-exploited natural resources.

Lucky for Norway that they've transitioned out of petroleum before the climate disaster comes due.


They have?


Yeah OK, it's declining, but they aren't out of it yet. https://www.norskpetroleum.no/en/production-and-exports/expo...


And wait until islands (and Florida) start sinking under the sea and there is this big Norwegian oil fund there sitting like a target...


Norway just happens to have a ton of oil money and a tiny population, whenever they get mentioned as an example for the rest of the world I can't help but laugh.


You're responding to the words "Norway or Sweden". Sweden doesn't have a ton of oil money.


It's still small and affluent, and therefore not a good place to make an x to y comparison.


And Sweden is nowhere near as well off either.


> I wish the next superpower would be a country such as Norway or Sweden, it would set such a utopian example for the world to move into the right direction.

The counter-argument is that ANY nation that becomes powerful will try to exert the same type of imperialism, no matter the era / technology / culture: Italians did it with the Roman Empire (10-15 centuries ago), Spanish did it with the Spanish Empire (5 centuries ago), etc, etc.


>If X were an impoverished country like Somalia, the tune would change and most people would condemn such a society

I've actually found that the larger a country is the more criticized it is on human rights violations. If a small country was genociding its own people or anything that X was doing, then the media would simply ignore it as it isn't a large enough story to talk about.

All the examples you give of X are taking place right now across the world in most developing nations yet the focus is placed on the largest ones.


//Basically what they sad is that western culture in Hong Kong clashes with the Chinese culture.

This is exactly a regurgitation of the propaganda by CCP. They blamed western influence, education and cultural whitewashing of HK Chinese as the reason for the current protests and their citizens believe it sincerely. They conveniently overlook the crux of the protest, which is to ask for universal suffrage.

Even for a well educated, widely traveled main-lander, it is difficult to come out of this conditioning. I have some friends from mainland, currently staying in HK, who sincerely believe the general public is too naive to be allowed to make any decision. With the right amount of conditioning, people can be led to believe in anything even if it is contrarian to their well-being.


> I have some friends from mainland, currently staying in HK, who sincerely believe the general public is too naive to be allowed to make any decision. With the right amount of conditioning, people can be led to believe in anything even if it is contrarian to their well-being.

One can see grounds for arguing this in recent history, and not just in Hong Kong. But, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis: "Some say that the public is too naive to be allowed to decide. I do not contradict them. But I am still a democrat, because I see nobody wise enough to decide for others."


It's also a rather disingenuous to treat this like some sort of novel idea or some authoritarian ploy.

Plato has been arguing that if you don't select your surgeon or carpenter based on that person's popularity in making public promises, why do you do so for statecraft?


> Plato has been arguing that if you don't select your surgeon or carpenter based on that person's popularity in making public promises, why do you do so for statecraft?

Politicians are elected by their promises, reelected by their performance. Also, there is no objective "skill" a politician can hold to be "good" like a surgeon or carpenter, your analogy breaks down completely.


Of course, your friends living in HK probably come from the “upper” middle class from China (depends on how old they are, ironically the younger the less likely they arise from lower class). For them it’s dreadful to imagine allowing the vast larger rural and under-educated population to make a decision. I agree though HK people should have a choice Since the scale is too small and people are mostly highly educated


> allowing the vast larger rural and under-educated population to make a decision.

Culture Revolution PTSD?


After the 2016 election I almost feel the same about letting the public vote.


Truly one election not going your way is proof we should go back to serfdom. The proles must learn their place!


2016 went the way it did because of the electoral college - the winner of the election actually lost the popular vote.


If the US system was more democratic, not less, it would have avoided the current regime. (no electoral college)


Go Hong Kong visit sometime. You will find British has managed to build Hong Kong into a prosperous and peaceful society with all the elements of so-called Chinese culture and Western culture. There is a church next to a mosque next to a temple in Tsim Sha Tsui district. People enjoy yum cha in their lunch and America rib-eye steak in their dinner.

I wonder whether the Chinese viewpoint stands. It is purely bad governance of HKSAR and CCP.


If anyone else is open to the other point of view, I could use some help. I'm struggling a lot at the moment with how little relevance seems to be given to how significant HK was in defining China's modern identity.

How many people actually know how HK came into being? That the supposedly democratic state of Britain who had already violently colonised India, used Indian land and serfs to grow 1000s of tons of Opium to keep Chinese people addicted and thus in sustainable trade. Queen Victoria ignored a letter from China exhorting her to stop. When Britain didn't stop, China took it into their own hands, destroying all the imported Opium they could find. Britain took this as destroying their "property" and thus went to war with them, easily winning and requiring the handing over of the port of Hong Kong so the trade would not be impeded again.

I know that was over 150 years ago now, but surely that has to be taken into account? If you don't think that's relevant to today's innocent HK'ers, then at least we have to realise that the handing over of HK was a defining factor in the ultimate end of the Qing dynasty, the closing of over 2000 years of China's political tradition and precipitating the radical changes that thrust China onto the world stage as we see it today.

I support the rights of all people to self determination. But HK is not Taiwan, it didn't naturally come to its anti-CCP ideology through an organic, internal and independent process. In fact, somewhat ironically, it came to it precisely because of an unaccountable, authoritarian regime, with no other agenda but self interest.


Hong Kong and the greater area around it has its own identify as well. That is, they are mainly Cantonese Chinese, a sub-culture, complete with their own dialect and variation of the writing system, plus their own takes on Chinese culture. Especially in Hong Kong where it's been better preserved because they skipped the Cultural Revolution and other influences from the CCP, taking the good parts from the British instead. The cultural differences are quite visible.

Perhaps it's luck that the British carved out Hong Kong, because if they didn't, the Cantonese would have probably been assimilated in to Mandarin by now.


I'm troubled to disagree with your comment, because I usually get so little feedback to such opinions and also it makes it look like I'm CCP stooge. So I should add that I'm British, I just lived in China for a year.

Your comment really worries me though, because it seems to me you're conflating the subculture of Guangdong with the culture of Honk Kong, perhaps in an attempt to make a tenuous argument that it is in fact Guangdong, like Taiwan, of which HK is but a tiny part, that desires independence. I think that's dangerously disingenuous to suggest that HK's current political consensus is but a facet of the wider Guangdong region's political sensibilities. I don't see any evidence whatsoever to suggest that what has happened in HK would not have also happened to any other port on the cost of China. HK wants independence because it took on the subculture of Britain not Guangdong.


There is a lot of evidence, historical and recent, that shows that the CCP is pushing for the assimilation of the Cantonese subculture.

A sample of some recent articles

"China Is Forcing Its Biggest Cantonese-Speaking Region To Speak Mandarin" https://www.businessinsider.com/china-is-forcing-its-biggest...

"Hong Kong education chief forced to clarify controversial comments about teaching Chinese language in Cantonese" https://amp.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education/article/216738...

"Guangzhou Television Cantonese controversy" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou_Television_Cantonese...

And there's also evidence of the CCP re-writing history https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/opinion/ching-cheong-hong...

You've also ignored the point about how HK did not succumb to the Cultural Revolution. I think that this is an important point on the timeline where the culture of HK diverged from the remaining Guangdong region, which is one of the things that give Hongkongese their unique Chinese identity. For example, Hongkongese retained their religious freedom, as well as freedom of the arts, and language.


Wow, that's really interesting, I didn't know that, thanks.

So are you indeed saying HK identifies more with the plight of Guangdong than the principles of British democracy? To me it still would seem that Guangdong's resistance to Beijing is fundamentally different from HK's, so that it's merely coincidence that both Guangdong and HK have reason to feel tension with Beijing.

I completely appreciate that HK further differentiated itself from the mainland, in the same way Taiwan did, during the Cultural Revolution. And I see how that must fuel HK's desire for autonomy. But I don't see how that gives any more insight into Beijing's view, which is what I'm trying to bring more awareness to. How do we get beyond the black and white perspective that "China Bad, Honk Kong Good"? Or are you just saying that Beijing is indeed acting completely without reason, as if in a deranged authoritarian vacuum? What doesn't anybody want to understand the nuances of the CCP's motives, no matter how much we might disagree with them?


I do agree that Hong Kong has its own sub-culture, though I think you would be better off arguing the civil/political aspect of it rather than the cultural part of it.

The language seems like a confirmation bias. If you turned the corporate press standard around, you could also have a headline saying the English deepens their imperial domination of Scotland brainwashing the youth with the Queen's English rather than Gaelic. Also, if what China does makes you uncomfortable, you should be out on the street burning police cars for what the Canadians do in the 'Indian' residency schools.


I have a coworker whose background is from Hong Kong and he HATES the mainland government. Reading some of those articles, I can see why.


I think that is a disingenuous take on their comment. They said it is culturally and linguistically distinct from the mainland ruling class. I think it's pretty easy to see how that arose from the historical separation. They specifically mention how it came from years of British rule, and skipping the cultural revolution. They didn't even mention Guangdong.


I think you've misunderstood both them and the geography of South China. They're clearly referring to the Cantonese speaking region, which is called Guangdong (which the British never owned), of which HK is a very small part (perhaps 1/30th of the size). It sounds like you think they were just talking about HK or that the British owned GUangdong. And even more confusingly attributing HK's linguistic distinctiveness to its historical separation by the British?


To add to the confusion, there are plenty of people whose families have lived in Guangdong for generations that are not ethnically Cantonese at all.

Linguistically, Southern China has many different groups. In Guangdong alone there are plenty of Hakka and Teochew speakers, both of which are languages quite different to Cantonese. Even within the Cantonese topolect there are a significant number of different groups, for example Taishanese, whose speech is not mutually intelligible with Guangzhou Cantonese. Add Guangxi and Hainan and there are even more different languages and ethnic groups.

I think what the original poster was trying to point out is that due to British rule, Hong Kong did not take part in the advancements (and catastrophes) that happened on the mainland over the past century. That is undeniable fact. The implication was that this was a good thing, but i disagree.

Nowadays in the mainland people who grew up in villages hundreds or thousands of miles apart can communicate using their second language - the lingua franca of Mandarin... meanwhile many Hongkongers are stuck only knowing the language of their local town. Perhaps they preserved their local language better than people in Jiangmen (Taishanese) or Huizhou (Hakka) or Chaozhou and Shantou (Teochew), but a downside is they also can't really talk to people from those cities the way the younger generations of mainlanders can.


> ethnically Cantonese

You gave an argument that is factually wrong.

Cantonese is not a seperate ethnic group. They are still Han Chinese.

Also, the Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can still understand eachother without study (although their speech may sound funny to eachother).

The language differences are enough to give both groups their own identity, but certainly not a new ethnicity.


I think we've interpreted their post in different ways, but I don't see how my interpretation is incorrect. I know the history and geography both fairly well. The post said the difference is "especially in HK", and referenced the British influences on their culture. It also said HK is distinct partly due to language (Cantonese same as Guangdong, no mandarin unlike Guangdong, with English unlike Guangdong), partly due to history (was under British rule for 150 years).


> it didn't naturally come to its anti-CCP ideology through an organic, internal and independent process.

I think you give Hong Kongers too little credit here. In fact, by 1997 many of those who hated China already voted with their feet and emigrated elsewhere; most of those who remained had high hopes that China will uphold its end of the bargain and become a well-behaved superpower.

The real irony is that the much more frequent interactions with mainland China since the handover have shown HKers the true colours of the CCP -- a thuggish regime, with zero regard to anything other than their hold to power. You can look up the number of HK people who identify as "Chinese" over the years for some hints.


> But HK is not Taiwan, it didn't naturally come to its anti-CCP ideology through an organic, internal and independent process.

Taiwan is anti-CCP because the anti-CCP forces (or rather I should say "government forces") fled there during the Chinese civil war...

This is somewhat also the case for Hongkong although I think many in Hongkong migrated there for simple economic reasons.


Taiwan is anti-CCP because the anti-CCP forces (or rather I should say "government forces") fled there during the Chinese civil war...

It's 2019, not 1949. Taiwan is anti-CCP because the PRC claims its territory and Taiwan overwhelmingly rejects the notion of being ruled by them. Which is fairly natural, I can't think of many people in developed, democratic countries who want to be ruled by a neighbouring, developing dictatorship.


Taiwan is still the Republic of China. A major party, whose previous President belonged to, is still the KMT.

Taiwan is thus still formally a province of China in the general sense of 'China' and is claimed by the PRC because of the civil war and because the PRC claimed to have superseded the ROC (which obviously the ROC/Taiwan does not agree with)

This is unfinished business since 1949.


I don't understand what your point is. The people of Taiwan (or the Free Area of the Republic of China, or whatever you want to call it) today, in 2019, don't use a Civil war from 70 years ago as their main reason for not wanting to be administered by a communist dictatorship.


why do you think they went to civil war in the first place? I don't understand your point for drawing this distinction at all


Because that's simply not the lens in which it's viewed in Taiwan in 2019. Mainland soldiers and refugees were well under half of the population of the whole island- and that was 70 years ago.


Yes, so I think you're supporting my point right?

Of course HK would be a haven for anti-CCP refugees and in in the last few decades that has come to be an important part of HK's identity. But that doesn't change the facts surrounding the inception of HK as merely a British-held asset to ensure the continued extraction of financial wealth from an Opium-addicted mainland China.

Of course I'm not trying to justify the Chinese aggression, I'm just trying to understand why so few people seem interested in going beyond the "China Bad" stereotype and really actually try to understand the context of China's motivations.


I'm from Guangdong. I find it refreshing to see a comment such as yours, that states that you want to look beyond stereotypes and into deeper truths (including historical backgrounds). Like you, I'm also baffled why so few people are uninterested in going beyond stereotypes, and I would also like to know more about the whole thing.

Not sure whether I personally have any insights to give you, but I've found that Quora has many posters that provide information about China's POV, i.e. POVs that are different from what you will typically find on HN. I cannot vouch for how accurate those posts are, but I've found that many of such posts seem to contain quite some detail. Also feel free to contact me for discussions.


多谢!我会联系你。 Thanks a lot! I'll contact you.


That seems like a pretext. It’s hard to understand why China would be motivated oppress the almost entirely Chinese population of Hong Kong because the British were jerks a hundred years ago.


I sometimes like to have a little thought experiment like this: I'm British, so what if, during the 1800s, China had, through unprovoked war, forced the handing over of the port city of Liverpool because we didn't let them sell us heroin? Or if you're American, think of San Francisco being a sovereign state of the CCP.

Of course you can never justify oppression, but I think such a thought experiment can give some very useful context.


I understand the point you're trying to make, but at best, it's simply an explanation of the realpolitik motives of China. Yes, Hong Kong was ultimately created through some nefarious tactics by the British. But that was 150 years ago. The people living in Hong Kong now are overwhelming ethnic Chinese (92%), have their own culture, and while not perfect, are far more democratic and freedom-loving than the CCP is. If you support the right of peoples to be self-determining, then it seems to me that China is clearly the antagonist here.


I know it may look like I'm taking China's side, but I'm not. In fact it's the automatic dismissal of all possible attempts to understand the Chinese perspective that I'm fighting against. How does simply asserting one side to be the antagonist and leaving it at that, help the situation?

If things are black and white then we miss the fact that HK's legitimacy is of a different kind to Taiwan's. Which in turn reinforces global opinion that HK's fight is equivalent to say Ukraine's. Why exactly aren't the UK rushing to HK's aid? It's precisely because of the nuances of the history that too few people are aware of or interested in. At the very least if such knowledge doesn't help HK now, then it will help all those in the future involved in similar acts of aggressions that the West, let alone China, still haven't grown out of.


I simply don't see how someone could simultaneously support self-determination and yet determine "legitimacy" via some nation-state government elites and not by the actual people living there. If you believe in democratic values, it's irrelevant if Hong Kong is "legitimate" in the eyes of the CCP. This type of self-determining situation can be tricky in other circumstances (see: U.S. Civil War or Catalonia for some examples) but the simple fact is that China is an authoritarian, totalitarian, anti-democratic state, while Hong Kong is not.

> Why exactly aren't the UK rushing to HK's aid?

For numerous reasons, none of which have to do with a nuanced view of history: Brexit, internal domestic politics, fear of upsetting China, fear of impacting the British economy, etc. Britain in particular and the West in general have zero qualms about intervening in other countries' affairs when it suits them.


> For numerous reasons, none of which have to do with a nuanced view of history: Brexit, internal domestic politics, fear of upsetting China, fear of impacting the British economy, etc. Britain in particular and the West in general have zero qualms about intervening in other countries' affairs when it suits them.

Hongkong is Chinese territory and this is no longer colonial time: China is no longer so weak that it may be slapped into compliance. China, though still not that strong, will do whatever it wants at home.

Of course, Britain is no longer a world power and is not in a position to dictate policy to other countries apart from the puniest ones.


You still seem to think that I'm trying to argue that we should take China's side.

Let me put it like this. Imagine I'm an alcoholic, but I can't afford rehab, so I steal the money to check myself in. I get better and everyone in the world agrees that my new state of sobriety is the best possible outcome for me. However the police find out, I go to court, get a big fine, get depressed and start drinking again. I ask for help from my friends, but I neglect to tell them about actually what happened, I allow them to entertain the idea that I am a total victim.

My point is that we need to know that context of a situation, or we can't truly help.

So I have to strongly disagree with you that history has nothing to do with Britain's current stance on HK. Britain is a sad, humiliated, crumbling nation. Brexit is in fact Britain's chickens coming home to roost from the very events of which HK is but one in a myriad of aggressive wounds on the world. Those rich, Eaton-educated families that got their wealth and arrogance through the authoritarian, totalitarian, anti-democratic practices of colonialism are finally beginning to find their true place in the world. Either Brexit happens and Britain suffers Northern Irish violence and Scottish independence, or Brexit is cancelled leading to the collapse of the Conservatives. Either way the core source of British "pride" has a very sobering journey ahead of it.


Your last paragraph sounds very bitter from you. Like it's almost personal?

Hate to break it to you, but the rich elite in the UK will not suffer because of Brexit. The poor will suffer, as they have always done. The elite will be just fine, and probably be in a position to strengthen their standings from the chaos.

And finally, what is your conclusion on China then? You are not arguing they're in the right, so what? What's your suggestion? What's your take? What should the CCP be doing right now? Should they be implementing democratic reform on the mainland to converge with the HK culture more?


> I know it may look like I'm taking China's side, but I'm not. In fact it's the automatic dismissal of all possible attempts to understand the Chinese perspective that I'm fighting against.

I think part of the problem is that while "attempting to understand" you're leaving out some important things. How did this "Chinese perspective" form? Was it natural, or deliberately formed or amplified with propaganda? What are the political motivations behind it? How much value should be put on irredentist nationalism, especially when wielded by an anti-liberal authoritarian ruling class against smaller more-liberal communities?

> If things are black and white then we miss the fact that HK's legitimacy is of a different kind to Taiwan's.

That really is a matter of perspective, isn't it? One could very validly argue that these "nuances of the history" that you're emphasizing are actually irrelevant to the posture that one should take to toward the current situation, and kind of a distraction. To put it another way, if you are considering slavery and have a slave in front of you, does it really matter if he's a slave because his parents were captured in a raid or if they were sold into slavery by his grandparents? Or should you focus on the slave's thoughts and his experiences? Maybe the his owner is adamant that his grandparents bought his slave's family fair-and-square, but how much effort should you make to empathize with that position?


San Francisco was, in fact, taken from Mexico during the 1800s through unprovoked war. Mexico doesn't and shouldn't see this as an active political issue.


What is this thought experiment meant to say? If the people of Liverpool or San Francisco want freedom and make their own country, many in the west would support such a thing. After Trump got elected, the separationism meme was spread in California half-seriously.

The reason this thought experiment doesn't really work is that it disregards a crucial piece of information that the CCP is an authoritarian regime, while the people of Hong Kong are liberal and democratic. People generally prefer to move from the former to the latter, and not from the latter to the former.

I think history is useful, but it doesn't really change the fact that the people of Hong Kong do not want authoritarianism. It should be irrelevant what some king in the Qing dynasty or British empire did. As common folk ourselves, we should be giving more value to the will of the people, than the will of people who buy and sell countries and its people as if it was private property. So, no, Hong Kong does not "belong" to CCP just because at some point it "belonged" to Qing dynasty.

Talking about people as if they are property of kings and rulers is just slavery at the level of groups.


The governments of the UK and the US would not countenance the idea of cities gaining independence.

In fact the US fought their bloodiest war over such issue...


The UK has a massive precedence of ceding independence to former colonies and overseas territories: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_that_have_...

I can't see how you imply UK and the US have any link on the topic.


The point was about their territories proper, not overseas colonies.


150 years ago. Today if Scotland voted to leave the UK with a clear majority, the UK would let them go. If Puerto Rico voted to leave the US with a clear majority, the US would let them go.

I'm not sure what would happen if say 75% of a city wanted to leave the US because that has never happened and isn't very likely to.


The situation is that today the policy of the UK government is not to allow another referendum on Scottish independence...


That's not the case. The policy of the UK government is that they just had a referendum in 2014, so one is not needed today, not that another referendum should never be allowed. The latest poll I can find shows that the majority of Scotland opposes another referendum at this point, so why would they have one right now before Brexit is complete?


Who said 'never'?

The point is that the government is obviously finding ways to avoid a referendum because they obviously don't want Scottish independence.

Let's not be naive here.

The hard truth is that governments of any country on Earth favour self-determination in two cases: (1) when it does not apply to them, and (2) when they expect that they result will favour their interests. That's how geopolitics works. "People's interests" is just for PR.


Why would they need to find ways to avoid a referendum. Less than half of the Scottish people want a referendum and they had one in 2014.

How often does a country need to have a referendum on independence of regions that are so inclined to be said to support self determination? Also the polls leading up to 2014 were close enough that the result wasn't certain, yet the government went ahead.

I never said the UK would be happy with Scottish Independence. But if Independence was the clear preference of the people, the UK would let them go. The same can be said for the US and Puerto Rico, but not for China.

>never

You said their position was "not to allow", which makes it sound like the Scottish people clearly want one but the UK won't allow it. That is not the case.


[flagged]


You are assuming that nobody here knows about the history of Hong Kong. This is incorrect: many of us are familiar with this history (which I first learned about in American public schools). We simply disagree that it is at all relevant to the question of what is best for the people of Hong Kong.


The Beatles would have sounded very different.


The conclusion makes sense to me - that HK is not Taiwan. However, after so many generations I do think that some of the HK people do recognize the irony of how they got to their situation but that doesn't mean their yearning for the situation Taiwan has isn't legitimate.


Of course their yearning and indeed protest actions are legitimate. To what extent though would you agree that, using the computer world's RFC vocabulary (MUST, SHOULD, MAY, OPTIONAL, etc), Hong Kong MAY ask for recognition whereas Taiwan SHOULD ask for recognition?

It feels to me that HK is exploiting the fact that most of the world automatically assumes big superpowers, especially little understood foreign ones, are the bad guys, such that HK the underdog MUST fight for recognition. I think such framing of the conflict misrepresents the situation preventing HK getting the actual relevant help that will bring about the most practical solution. By which I mean most of the world unhelpfully sees the black and white of HK good, China bad. When in fact China is a fundamental component in the global economy and everybody's quality of life, such that we all implicitly support it by, for example, buying their cheap-labour subsidised goods. If we're genuinely interested in finding a way forward don't we need to reflect on these nuances? I know that's a big ask, but big problems usually require a big effort.


> preventing HK getting the actual relevant help that will bring about the most practical solution

What is this help, and how is it being prevented?

> When in fact China is a fundamental component in the global economy and everybody's quality of life, such that we all implicitly support it by, for example, buying their cheap-labour subsidised goods.

How is that relevant?


HK is simultaneously supporting the vilification of China and the continued integration of China into the world. How are we supposed to oppose China and have cheap iPhones? If the citizen's of the world actually understood the situation then they would have more opportunity to exercise their economic and diplomatic powers.


HK is supporting the vilification of the actions of the Chinese government over their treatment of HK, not "China".

This idea that we cannot say one part in the conflict is clearly in the Wrong (or even evil) unless we reject the country as a whole is just silly beyond belief. I'd even say that's been the default position of much of the Europeans regarding the US for decades now.

> If the citizen's of the world actually understood the situation then they would have more opportunity to exercise their economic and diplomatic powers.

That's rather ambiguous. What specific actions are you thinking about?


I think the western society is objectively further advanced than the Chinese one. Not surprising since China is a country in development and most other countries have gone through similar phases. So it should not be taken as a accusation. This conflict aside, I wouldn't see them on the same level.


The idea that democracy and freedom are somehow foreign to Chinese people and can't work in their culture is a myth peddled by the CCP to serve their own interests. Democracy and freedom are flourishing in Taiwan. They are flourishing in South Korea (who aren't Chinese but whose traditions are no more democratic than China's). They're doing OK in Japan.

"The Chinese point of view" is an ambiguous term that the CCP uses to its advantage. In fact it is the Chinese Communist Party's point of view, which they have managed to indoctrinate into most Chinese citizens via their control of all Chinese media. Where Chinese people have escaped CCP influence, they tend to have quite a different point of view.


I saw the many citations of Taiwan, Korea and many other small country (even Japan) as the example that democracy can work as is for China. IMO the scale and population is drastically different. Couple things make it complicated:

1) over 800M rural population with most of them under-educated. High school is not common and the villagers will celebrate if one of the kids made it to college. If you want them to understand democracy good luck educating millions of people across vast areas(thanks to Chinese government you might be able to take trains)

2)Middle and upper class Chineses have more different point of view, but they rarely choose to move since it’s against their own interests

3) The other countries listed are historically US strategic allies with even US troops deployed. Ironically what US did will only pushback Chinese people from wanting western style democracy

I believe democracy in China will happen one day (I believe it’ll be top-down) but the majority of the population doesn’t have any motivation right now


Regarding 1, many western countries developed their democratic system when their populations were largely agrarian. In those cases however many of the people with money or political power (who were the first to be given a vote) were also spread throughout the countryside and that is probably not the case in China.


China is different from those other countries and would face different challenges but the argument often made is that democracy is incompatible with Chinese culture or somehow otherwise inappropriate for Chinese people and that is simply not so.

Obviously democracy isn't traditional in Chinese culture, or just about any culture including "the West" if you look back more than few centuries, but that doesn't make it a bad idea.


The CCP and the Chinese culture believes in social harmony and the good of society over the good of the individual. You believe in personal liberties over all, and you have implicitly assumed this philosophy to be the universal moral standard. Why are the Chinese the ones who are "indoctrinated" while you are the enlightened one?

I'd also like to point out that considering current world affairs, this is the worst time in decades to so confidently assert that democracy is the ideal form of government.


> You believe in personal liberties over all,

I actually don't, so please don't make assumptions about what I believe. I do believe that people should not be ruled by autocrats for the benefit of the rulers, and that is inevitably what happens in autocratic systems. Democracy is the best system I know of for ensuring that governments work for the benefit of the people.

That doesn't mean the good of the individual trumps the good of society. Regular peaceful transfer of power is good for society and social harmony in the long run, because it's clear from history that the alternative is violent revolution or stagnation and collapse.

> I'd also like to point out that considering current world affairs, this is the worst time in decades to so confidently assert that democracy is the ideal form of government.

The Internet and other technological changes are disproportionately aiding autocrats and hurting democracies. I hope democracies will learn to cope with that, but whether they do or not, it doesn't make autocracy good.


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Is that why most of the relatives of the top brass in CCP, and wealthy Chinese business people are holding passports of foreign countries?


True freedom exists at the personal, inner level, each individual must earn it for themselves. How little Americans personally value the kind of external (political) freedom which they talk up as the absolute good and sacred can be observed in the 10% ish turn out rates in cities like NY and SF, as well as in how everyone tries to get out of jury duty as much as they can.


> everyone tries to get out of jury duty as much as they can.

Perhaps it's the fact that I live in a smaller city, but literally no one I know had tried to get out off jury duty, except one friends in the last months of her pregnancy when she had preeclampsia and was ordered by the doctor to rest (so a legitimate reason).

One advantage of this is I get to hear all kinds of great stories about various cases (including a murder, in one case).


Large Western corporations do not select which books I'm permitted to read.

Large Western corporations do not forbid me from criticizing their CEO's.

Large Western corporations do not harvest organs from the poor.

Large Western corporations do not imprison minorities in concentration camps.

Large Western corporations do not scrape thousands of protesters into a gutter with bulldozers and disappear anyone who speaks of the incident


And that is exactly what Western propaganda looks like: absolute and automatic conviction of superiority. The truth is large Western corporations invented most of the things you describe and are now so advanced you don't even recognise it.

Unchecked political lobbying dictates the major themes of news cycles and school curriculums, the places where censorship and distortion of the written word most matters. (Eg. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica)

CEO's and rich people are beyond the legal system, which is the ultimate arbiter of criticism. (Eg. Jeffrey Epstein)

Granted, it is indeed true, thankfully large Western corporations do not harvest organs from the poor. Though you need to know about the British and Dutch East India trading companies, arguable some of the most evil entities to ever exist. They had standing armies that slaughtered, committed state-backed genocides, enslaved, raped and stole. What's more they are the very source of how the modern concept of a corporation came to be. And if you want a modern example then look at the large Western corporation of Nestle.

My understanding of China's concentration camps is that they're more like re-education camps, please correct me if I'm wrong. But besides, we're all happily buying things like iPhones that are made in what amount to exploitation camps. Indeed this refers to the previous paragraph, in many ways the fundamental definition of Western power arises from its corporate exploitation of human beings for economic greed.

I also agree that large Western corporations don't scrape thousands of protests into gutters with bulldozers. The West is much more intelligent. It enables proxies wars in the Middle East that kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of civilians for daring to speak out about oppression and not letting the West have free access to geopolitical assets and commercial resources like oil.

If you want to make bold statements, then you have to say the West is worse than China. But this isn't a competition for who is best or worst. We are all on both sides and are all implicated in the solution to this inextricably global problem.


The Chinese point of view is to take HK culture and remove it, because the Chinese way is the only way. You said it yourself. I'm not sure how that's okay or what greater understanding is supposed to yield. China wants to subsume HK at any cost. HKers want to keep their culture, rights and freedom. They're going to fight for it, and China is going to crush them and force their will on them. I don't see the good here, or how a "fair" evaluation of the situation will change these facts.


> Hong Kong has to accept that they are Chinese now, and accept all the consequences that come with that.

HKs independence was agreed to by the PRC as part of the handover.

The PRC must accept there are two systems.


A certain level of autonomy, yes. Independence, no.


> Basically what they sad is that western culture in Hong Kong clashes with the chinese culture.

Funny that authoritarianism, corruption, etc. is being excused as "Chinese cultural differences". This stuff ain't new, folks.


America's Fundamental Misunderstanding of China

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojr-tqaQQOQ


This is just plain factually incorrect. Around two million Chinese immigrate to other countries every year (net).

Note also that it's similar to India's immigration rate, while India is doing much worse economically than China.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_migra...


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I've long been a lurker on HN but these protests have compelled me to create an account to chime in on the situation.

As someone who's bilingual, travelled to both China and Hong Kong, and worked and interacted with Chinese people, the sheer volume and intensity of Sinophobic comments on western social media (Twitter, Reddit) following the wake of these protests painting China and the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) as an evil communist government which brainwashes and oppresses its citizens, reflects to me deep ignorance and opened my eyes to how environment and media shapes your worldview.

I'm not saying the CCP is without flaw; China has done things I strongly disagree with. But making broad sweeping statements about how China bad based on what you know from western media, without having stepped foot into either China or Hong Kong, without making an effort to understand a foreign culture, is an even greater crime. To me, it's no different from liberals claiming conservatives are all brainwashed by Fox News.

Regarding the Hong Kong protests, most people don't have time for deep political analyses. You read headlines, read stories, read social media, form an impression of whats going on, and then you pass judgement based on your worldview. Western media has largely framed these protests as a fight for democracy against China and oppression. Who's the audience? The English speaking world, which is largely democratic.

However, if you can understand Chinese/Cantonese, I would suggest looking at Hong Kong and Chinese media and social media. It's also prone to biased reporting, but there are moderate and sensible comments as well, and you get a deeper understanding of both sides of the conflict. In my opinion, the situation is alot more nuanced and complicated than what's portrayed in mainstream media.


This isn't that complicated: many citizens of Hong Kong enjoy their democratic form of government, and fear full control by an authoritarian Chinese government.

The Chinese government, on the other hand, sees Hong Kong as an integral part of China that was taken from them, and see it as their right to rule the land as they see fit (prior agreements with the UK notwithstanding).

So what's this nuance you're referring to? You spent 4 paragraphs talking about how nuanced the situation is, yet never provided any examples.

I've never been in Hong Kong or China (although my father spent several months a year working there over a decade, and so I've learned a lot second-hand). But I have lived in a country that was invaded by an authoritarian government, and in another that experienced a semi-coup by an authoritarian government, and the justifications I'm hearing now sound a lot like the justifications I heard back then: it's so nuanced, you're an outsider so wouldn't understand, you don't understand our culture, etc, etc.


> So what's this nuance you're referring to? You spent 4 paragraphs talking about how nuanced the situation is, yet never provided any examples.

I thought I was going crazy too. Repeating "people just don't get it" over and over isn't an argument.


> many citizens of Hong Kong enjoy their democratic form of government

They didn’t have a democracy prior to this protest (eligible HK SAR administrators were picked by Beijing). They also didn’t have a democracy during British rule (HKers could not vote).

> fear full control by an authoritarian Chinese government

Some do, some don’t. Not everyone is a protester or even in the anti-Beijing camp. Generally younger people are anti-Beijing, older people are moderate or pro-Beijing.

There are opinions that state that democracy is not the true thing those people are looking for; rather, it’s a better life (housing increasingly unaffordable, supposedly the current situation was not caused by Beijing but by previous entrenched landlord powers in Hong Kong). The protesters still blame Beijing, and believe that democracy will automatically yield a better outcome.

That possibly answers why pro-Beijing would possibly make sense (nobody wants a dictatorship, right?): The older generation remember that things under British rule wasn’t fairytales and unicorns either, and they aren’t naive enough to believe that independence automatically equates good outcomes. They may also have seen how China changed for the better over the decades, and even if China is still evil it may at least be seen as a necessary evil (i.e. the alternatives are worse).

Good outcomes: How is HK going to look like if all of a sudden they have to take care of their own food, water and defense, and their main business model collapses? Singapore spends a huge amount of their GDP on defense, HK currently none. Enjoy mandatory drafting into the army. Okay you can vote but the good jobs are gone, now what?

Singapore was authoritarian before it prospered and turned democratic. Ditto for Taiwan and South Korea. Russia after the collapse of Soviet Union was democratic but the available (or at least voted for) rulers were utterly incompetent and destroyed the country until Putin came along. Democracy in the middle east isn’t exactly working out. Democracy in western countries is working sort-of well but the west has also been prosperous for a long time so people can afford to focus on idealism.

This shows that “democracy equals good outcomes, authoritarian equals bad outcomes” isn’t always true. It isn’t necessarily UNtrue either but it is... nuanced?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Your first two sentences already show how “it’s not complicated” is in fact very complicated.


> They didn’t have a democracy prior to this protest (eligible HK SAR administrators were picked by Beijing). They also didn’t have a democracy during British rule (HKers could not vote).

Because they didn't have a full democracy before (because of CCP regulations) they aren't able to demand one now?

> They may also have seen how China changed for the better over the decades

HK per capita gdp and every other standard of living measure has been, and continues to be far better than maintain China. I don't know what you are trying to say here.

> This shows that “democracy equals good outcomes, authoritarian equals bad outcomes” isn’t always true. It isn’t necessarily UNtrue either but it is... nuanced?

You're almost there. Democracy doesn't equal good outcomes, but authoritarianism without liberalization always ensures a bad one. The only way the CCP can hold on to power will be through further violent crackdowns at home and wars abroad. Arguing this outcome is a good thing for the Chinese people, or the world, is odd.




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