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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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