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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.


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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.




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