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Why so many Chinese students can’t understand the Hong Kong protests (latimes.com)
302 points by baylearn 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 341 comments



I think a lot of people who were born in the west don't understand that, when you're very poor, economic circumstances matter more than political freedom. After all, having money (or not) affects what you can or cannot do far more than whoever's in charge.

Chinese people today have lived through an economic miracle. If I lived there I doubt I'd criticize their system, especially considering people still can remember worse times. For young Hong Kongers however, they didn't live during British rule. They were born into wealth, and now their own career prospects (like many millenials around the world) aren't great. So they protest.

The unfortunate thing is that they'll fail. The finance industry is already planning to exit HK (too volatile), and China can kill the rest of their economy. Rich HKers will leave. In the end, the protests will only hurt HK.

Occupy Wall Street didn't do anything, successive Ukrainian revolutions never lasted either. Ukraine is often cited: after the Orange Revolution, Yanukovych eventually came back to power. Poroshenko had his time, but lost in the biggest landslide in Ukraine's short history. Now Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, they're not in the EU, they're not in Nato, they lost Crimea, Donbass is at war, and while Zelensky can't possibly be any worse, there's no clear sign things will get better.


"For young Hong Kongers however, they didn't live during British rule. They were born into wealth, and now their own career prospects (like many millenials around the world) aren't great. So they protest."

Almost everything in these sentences are wrong. It's not just the young people who are protesting in Hong Kong, and most people in Hong Kong have never been born into wealth. There's a great divide between the wealthy and the poor and that's always been the case even in British time.

Source: I was born in Hong Kong 30+ years ago and our family of 4 shared a bunk bed in a room that's probably not much bigger than 100sqft


Relative wealth then.

HK has long had a GDP per capita on par with western nations. Versus China which has had a GDP per capita on par with developing nations until fairly recently.


Have you been to HK? The level of inequality there is staggering and the cost of living is much higher than most western countries, including things such as rent.

You think SV valley rents are bat shit crazy? Take a look at HK real estate listings.


That doesn't seem to be mainland/CCP's fault. The big real estate developers (the Lee, Kwoks families, etc) owns much of the properties. Why is mainland China the target for inequality and housing issue to blame? I have no stake in this fight, just curious.


No one blamed mainland here but I have a very strong suspicion that you have stake in this fight given that your entire 5 months comment history here is about China related topics.


I also notice that poster is really focused on only one of the two chinas.


You're talking about the territory that formerly boasted the Kowloon Walled City.

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


I think the protesters will offer a different slant. From what I've read, they genuinely understand that what is at stake is their freedom to choose their own path. They've watched as China has gradually taken control of the governing body, the media, the financial management and the police. Each transpired more or less over a number of years, but each was also worrisome and that worry and anxiety pent up. The trigger for the current mass-action was not an economic event, it was a judicial one: A new law was proposed that would enable any court in China to charge and then extradite a Hong Kong resident without checks by Hong Kong's judges. Effectively, it would mean that Hong Kong's judicial system was subordinate to China's judicial system, and therefore, did not have a judicial system at all.

There have been many foreboding events that portend the loss of liberty that Hong Kong residence fear. Liberty is what they are fighting to keep. Not wealth.

Addendum: The Chinese judicial system is as one with the communist party. It does not operate the same basic law that Western countries, and tenuously Hong Kong, operate. Under China's judicial system, people literally disappear for months or more with no information provided to family or employer. Many times, they never return.


> From what I've read, they genuinely understand that what is at stake is their freedom to choose their own path.

Unfortunately that's not what's at stake because they won't succeed; freedom isn't actually an option. They think it is, but they'll fail.

> Liberty is what they are fighting to keep. Not wealth.

That might be what they tell themselves, but I can guarantee that if all the HK youth got cushy finance jobs like the previous generation, these protests would have never happened. In absence of personal fulfilment, HK youth are searching for an identity.

> The trigger for the current mass-action was not an economic event

Yes, that was the trigger. However there are triggers, and underlying sentiment. Remember the Umbrella Revolution was a thing only a few years before.

For the record, I'm not saying that Hong Kongers are wrong for protesting or wanting freedom. I'm just saying they'll fail, and the consequences won't be pretty.


You know, I wanted to contradict you, then I thought better and didn't want to bicker, but then saw you had gotten 3 downvotes in this short time, which I also don't like -- so I'll just say what for me is the main thing:

> For the record, I'm not saying that Hong Kongers are wrong for protesting or wanting freedom. I'm just saying they'll fail, and the consequences won't be pretty.

You may be correct, you may not. I wonder if people said the same thing right up to the end of segregation, and other things. But that doesn't matter: might does not make right. Our predictions don't matter, our individual stances do.

> Finally, it is the act itself that matters. When instrumental reason is the sole guide to action, the acts it justifies are robbed of their inherent meanings and thus exist in an ethical vacuum. [..] the moral good of a moral act inheres in the act itself. That is why an act can itself ennoble or corrupt the person who performs it.

-- Joseph Weizenbaum

Everybody dies at some point, anyway. All wealth goes down the drain. What these people are changing, and what cannot be taken from them, is themselves. If the results will "not be pretty", there will be no end to songs about them in our lifetime and maybe that of our children and grandchildren -- the kind of songs that would excactly not get written about people with cushy finance jobs, not even once. This isn't meant as snark against you, it's a compliment for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebKrqHdJaak


I think looking at Macau is a good example.

They are in the same political and cultural position as Hong Kong: 1 country 2 systems, colonized by a European country, speak Cantonese, etc. but there are no protests in Macau.

Why? The economy is doing well and people there are relatively well off.


Macau actually experienced a big recession while Hong Kong has grown steadily, overtaking the US in GDP per capita. [1]

[1] https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_#...


Right, but even after the big recession, it’s still significantly higher than Hong Kong, almost double.


Macau's position has been solidly pro-Beijing for over 50 years. I wouldn't understate the political differences here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12-3_incident

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


Or is it because they can move to Portugal if they want to, thus feel like they have an escape?


Macau passed the national security law.


>You may be correct, you may not. I wonder if people said the same thing right up to the end of segregation, and other things. But that doesn't matter: might does not make right. Our predictions don't matter, our individual stances do.

Getting rid of segregation has a strong moral foundation and backing... keeping colonial roots in control of HK, not so much.


Uh... I'm not sure how wanting protection from arbitrary legal attacks, and the right to choose your own government qualifies as "keeping colonial roots"? If anything, there is a wide feeling here that Hong Kong essentially swapped one colonial power for another, and at least towards the end of the British rule it was more benevolent than CCP rule has become recently...


>That might be what they tell themselves, but I can guarantee that if all the HK youth got cushy finance jobs

This is so cynical it makes me sad. Some people have principles that are not necessarily the best for their own personal outcome, but they are deeply felt.

I've never been an ambitious person, but I appreciate those that are and all they have created. I do live by principles, however, and my own personal well-being comes second to the idea of liberty.

There is a reason HKers were carrying American flags-> because America is an idea. I certainly support the people of HK protesting this power-overreach.


It seems to me to be quite the assumption that in order to fight for a prize you must expect you can win.

There are plenty of examples throughout history, let alone in any of the many incidents of competition happening today - from sport all the way to war - of the opposite.


> that if all the HK youth got cushy finance jobs like the previous generation, ...

sources? yes, finance was always big in HK, but how many people got those cushy jobs really?


> if all the HK youth got cushy finance jobs like the previous generation, these protests would have never happened

You are assuming HKers would sell their freedom to a tyrprican government in exchange for GDP growth the way mainland Chinese can. That's a big assumption.


It's not like mainlanders every really had a choice. Their own protests were crushed with tanks in 1989 and they've been relentlessly propagandized on everything from the papers to the schools to social media since then. I have zero doubts such strong propaganda efforts over decades would yield similar results on the vast majority Americans had it happened here.


Writing off the surrender of mainlanders of all their rights to "effective propaganda" is undercutting the very real sense of grievance and fear/hatred of foreigners already present.


But much of the canonical mainland political belief system is incompatible with rational thought and generally shared moral principles. And mainlanders are obviously not any less rational or moral on most topics.

Mainlanders may not like it to hear it, and I'll even go as far as to say the best strategy for discussing politics with mainlanders is to not directly tell them this, but their political canon is anomalously full of holes that are exposed when explored in any significant depth (yes I've been through this process with mainlanders).


Singapore. Low on freedom, high on equality/housing. No protest.


Singapore doesn't operate consideration camps or have political prisoners, they just don't allow chewing gum.



I think you're right. I'm originally from Egypt and we see this discrepancy between generations. Older generation who lived through not just economic turmoil but political turmoil and war somehow totally OK with repressive (but stable) autocratic/military rule. Younger generation (myself included) care about civil liberties and tend to be anti-regime. (Really broad generalizations, of course, but generally true).


In my personal experience as a person of Bangladeshi origin, a similar outlook and generational divide exists concerning the role of a job/career and the expectations one has of it with respect to an individual's happiness.

Update: added my origin to narrow the scope of my comment.


This article paints 1.4 billion people with a broad brush. I have met personally highly talented and bright people in China like in many other nations. So I feel this is really not fine if you try to say they don't understand. The reason people in China do not agree with Hong Kong protestors is first about nationalism, they think Hong Kong protestors are attacking China's sovereignty and independence, indeed many put slogans for the same and carried flags of other countries. Even if it might be 1-2% of the protestors, they were widely supported by local media and protestors by justifying their action.

If Hong Kong protestors just followed the path of non violence without attacking China's sovereignty or accepting that they are first Chinese citizen and showing their discontent, it would have been different.

Why Hong Kong is protesting is another reason, which still has roots in economic dissatisfaction.


I think highly talented and bright people can still be fed wrong information an come to the wrong conclusions.

I think it's important to remember that the protesters began protesting in reaction to China's actions. Protesters are just ordinary people, and it's wrong to hold every protestor accountable to the actions of a tiny minority. China however is a single united and sovereign government; it's actions can't be so easily excused or dismissed.

If a government behaves in a way that breaks faith with it's people, are the people to blame?

I'll tell you this, if I was a CEO and a bunch of people in one of my departments walked out and protested because they felt the company wasn't keeping faith with them, I would place blame on whoever was running that department, not on the people protesting.


China didn't take any actions before the protest. It is Hong Kong government that proposed the new law. just fyi for making a valid cause.


> It is Hong Kong government that proposed the new law.

A government which is effectively a mouthpiece for the CCP (and has increasingly become so since '97). People aren't protesting China out of nowhere. It's because China has been closing its grip on HK's political process for years now. Are you really trying to say with a straight face that the extradition bill to China has nothing to do with China and its influence on the HK government?


you can speculate that China government is behind the bill. anyone can. but it's speculation until there is evidence. So far, there isn't such evidence as far as I am aware.

In my understanding, China central government favors Hong Kong stability over anything else. It's quite likely that it's Hong Kong government but China central government that proposed the bill.



assume if you are a leader of central government and your trusted local government proposes a bill, would you support it or not? can you simply say it's wrong to support?


>If Hong Kong protestors just followed the path of non violence without attacking China's sovereignty or accepting that they are first Chinese citizen and showing their discontent, it would have been different.

I don't think it's clear that the protestors started the violence. Most reports seem to indicate otherwise.

I also don't know that it's reasonable to expect people who were born and raised in HK when the governance was different and without mainland influence to accept that they should just allow the PRC to change their way of life and rule of law.

And of course there is an economic aspect to it. But much of that is due to industries such as finance beginning to withdraw from HK - there is too much uncertainty there. Beijing has begun exerting influence long before they agreed to with the handover treaty, and there is a general fear that they will continue to accelerate this.

I don't see any way that the PRC loses this, however. International observers aren't going to step in, and the rich in powerful in HK will simply leave, as they have been.


> I don't think it's clear that the protestors started the violence. Most reports seem to indicate otherwise.

Its clear from the videos of protest supporters and media outlet without China's influence like BBC, CNN, The Guardian that there was violence in the protest (not small enough to be ignored). This is just deflecting the reality to create confusion.

Hong Kong is China according to handover and follows "Chinese Nationality Law" except for the provisions defined in "Basic Law" which differentiate part of two systems for 50 years. So people who accepted it stayed back and those who couldn't went to either Canada, UK or some other destination. The funny part is many returned back [1][2][3], when it didn't work out for them economically or culturally in those places.

Now the situation is very different, the long term prospect of cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou looked better than Hong Kong which largely moved to worse especially in housing. This discontent when there is no visible better future prospects descended into protests conflating many issues. If protests only targeting the real primary reason of economics and future prospects, it might not have divided society.

Hong Kong has always been about trade, economics and money. British kept it the same without granting freedom or democracy, China to fulfill the provisions of Basic Law granted autonomy (indeed more autonomy in policy making compared to when it was a British colony), but not outright democracy which is not part of the Basic Law or Handover.

[1] http://content.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1...

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/06/06/hk.returnees...

[3] http://www.nbcnews.com/id/19438776/ns/world_news-asia_pacifi...


> British kept it the same without granting freedom or democracy

Well they tried. Shortly after the Chinese revolution, HK was receiving an influx of refugees from China. Mostly well educated and skilled people. Britain was moving to bring in democratic reforms in the 1950s. China threatened to invade to "liberate" the territory if such reforms continued.

https://qz.com/279013/the-secret-history-of-hong-kongs-still...


> Well they tried. Shortly after the Chinese revolution, HK was receiving an influx of refugees from China. Mostly well educated and skilled people. Britain was moving to bring in democratic reforms in the 1950s. China threatened to invade to "liberate" the territory if such reforms continued.

They didn't try but abandoned any efforts due to self interest of profits and economic extraction from a colony. The article put this in a better context, I just put excerpts from the link you shared:

Brits wanted to make sure they’d protected their economic interests before they departed, much the way they did in Singapore and Malaysia.

Another one:

In fact, in 1982, when negotiations began, the Hang Seng Index was already shaky due to fears that if China took over, the Communist Party would gut Hong Kong’s rule of law or nationalize wealth, causing the market to crash and capital to flee. The Brits needed to calm markets and ensure financial stability. That meant making sure the handover agreement protected British financial interests.


The consequence of continuing would have been far worse than abandoning. The fact remains that they were moving to put in place democratic reforms. Prior to the Chinese revolution HK was an economic backwater - most of its population being related to the transhipment port and military presence. Kowloon and New Territories were only added as buffer zone for the port. Growth was nearly all post Chinese revolution.

In the post-war decolonisation period GB had a policy of no independence before majority rule. They were putting in place democratic reforms elsewhere, and ensuring minority rule (ie South Africa) didn't continue after independence.


[flagged]


Except that is simply not true, and there's no evidence for it.

British corporations that existed in the HK market may have extracted revenue, as might any corporation, of any nationality with their overseas operations. The Hang Seng is a major stock market in its own right, so the majority of money was staying as HK money. The British government, on the other hand, was not receiving billions into the treasury as a consequence of holding Hong Kong.


"Liao Chengzhi, a senior Chinese official in charge of Hong Kong affairs, said in 1960 that China "shall not hesitate to take positive action to have Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories liberated" should the status quo (i.e. colonial administration) be changed." seems rather clear on that matter. Naturally the UK also had additional other interests but democratic reform was off the table.


> Its clear from the videos of protest supporters and media outlet without China's influence like BBC, CNN, The Guardian that there was violence in the protest (not small enough to be ignored). This is just deflecting the reality to create confusion.

That's not a fair characterization at all. The distrust for police goes deeper[1] and even just looking at this year's protest it's not clear cut.

> British kept it the same without granting freedom or democracy

That's again wrong. British did give HK some democracy and definitely more freedom than what's currently given (at least in reality if not on paper)

> China to fulfill the provisions of Basic Law granted autonomy (indeed more autonomy in policy making compared to when it was a British colony), but not outright democracy which is not part of the Basic Law or Handover.

The recent protest started because China is not fulfilling the provisions of Basic Law

[1] https://qz.com/281108/is-hong-kongs-famed-rule-of-law-breaki...


> That's again wrong. British did give HK some democracy and definitely more freedom than what's currently given (at least in reality if not on paper)

British were in Hong Kong for 150 years and only granted enough freedom to Hong Kong to align with their own interest of generating profits and economic dividends for Britain. This is how they treated all their colony including Hong Kong. This is not freedom, its like instead of a caged zoo, they gave an open zoo with a bit larger area and decides what freedoms to give.

Hong Kong never had democracy including during British time. If you have any written evidence in law or regulation on the contrary let me know. So far I couldn't find any evidence except the "Basic Law" which guarantees certain freedom.

In civil societies we have institution of marriage with regulations and laws. It exists on paper, although many will say love doesn't need a certificate. If there is a commitment it's not a problem to put it on paper, not granting Hong Kong freedom and democracy on paper shows Britain's treatment of Hong Kong as a colony.

> The recent protest started because China is not fulfilling the provisions of Basic Law

If China broke any provisions of Basic Law a case can be filed in courts of Hong Kong.

Indeed Hong Kong asked China to re-interpret Basic Law which contravenes basic human rights in 1999. No one protested at that time because although it was against basic human rights, it benefits Hong Kong people economically.

"On 26 June 1999, in line with the request of the HKSAR Government, the NPCSC issued its interpretation which makes it clear that children born outside Hong Kong will be eligible for the right of abode only if at least one of their parents has already acquired permanent residence status at the time of their birth. Also, those eligible for ROA need to comply with Article 22 of the Basic Law, i.e. they need to apply for the necessary approval from the relevant Mainland authorities before entry into Hong Kong.

The Chief Executive, Tung Chee Hwa, announced measures to be taken by the Government. Later rulings of the Court of Final Appeal confirmed that the Government had acted entirely constitutionally and legally.

Differences in opinion remain as to whether Hong Kong's judicial independence and the rule of law have been undermined. Criticism of the interpretation has originated largely from the legal sector."


> British were in Hong Kong for 150 years and only granted enough freedom to Hong Kong to align with their own interest

I don't want to speculate why the British did what they did, and that's not the point

> Hong Kong never had democracy including during British time. If you have any written evidence in law or regulation on the contrary let me know. So far I couldn't find any evidence except the "Basic Law" which guarantees certain freedom.

There's a difference between freedom and democracy and I will answer separately. On democracy, HK had long had some sort of election for the legislature (sure not the entire 150 years). I was there and my parents voted. It's dishonest to say you can't find any evidence of it.

On freedom. Basic Law may well (I am not sure) be the first local constitution, but the HK court system followed British precedence and people in HK generally enjoyed the same freedom guarantees that British living in UK do. Also, in practice there's increasing levels of self-censorship so having the Basic Law doesn't mean much.

> If China broke any provisions of Basic Law a case can be filed in courts of Hong Kong. Indeed Hong Kong asked China to re-interpret Basic Law... No one protested at that time

Actually plenty of people protested, but I see you cherrypicked examples. More recently China re-interpreted Basic Law to disqualified democratically elected legislature members. China also sent agents to HK and kidnapped an HK resident into China for political crime. You said British only granted freedom to HK base on self-interest, and you are very eager to be very generous towards China's motivations and skipped over examples that are very easy to find. Either you are not able to find them because they are blocked by the GFW, or that's something are more intentional on your part.


>Its clear from the videos of protest supporters and media outlet without China's influence like BBC, CNN, The Guardian that there was violence in the protest (not small enough to be ignored). This is just deflecting the reality to create confusion.

Only if you ignore the fact that government encouraged (and rewarded) counter-protestors were attacking them in the subways on the way to and from the initial peaceful protests.


Ok, and what if the people of Hong Kong just don’t want to be part of China anymore?

Independence movements are as old as the concepts colonialism and empire.

Why not expand the right of self-determinism to Hong Kong?


> Why not expand the right of self-determinism to Hong Kong?

Because no one outside of Hong Kong is going to fight a war with China over it, and that's what defending that right in any substantive way means.


And who's going to enforce this 'right'? It's not about what's right, just realpolitik. China's not letting them go, everyone knows that.


I updated my comment to narrow the scope to my personal experience: I did not intend for my comment to apply to people outside of my personal experience. Sorry for the trouble.


"For young Hong Kongers however, they didn't live during British rule. They were born into wealth, and now their own career prospects (like many millenials around the world) aren't great. So they protest."

Everything here is just wrong...Are the elder citizens also protesting? Yes. Were today's young protestors born into wealth? No. Are they protesting their career prospects? No. Are they protesting for their human rights? Yes.


>Chinese people today have lived through an economic miracle

The so called 'economic miracle' fallacy only works if you ignore that it was the CCP who crippled the economic development of China.

Loosening your grip upon your victim's neck is not the same as performing the Heimlich maneuver. It doesn't make you a qualified doctor. The 'economic miracle' fallacy presents the strangler as the savior.

If we can agree that the Great Leap Forward was a regressive measure, then what of the One Child Policy? Is this not regressive and changing the terms of success? If you can not create positive economic outcomes for the majority of your population, shrinking your population is the same as moving the goal posts.

Ultimately it was not central planning which advanced the economic circumstances of Chinese people. It was the individual acts of citizens.


>Ultimately it was not central planning which advanced the economic circumstances of Chinese people. It was the individual acts of citizens.

Given the large disparity between China and other developing countries, yes the government from the 80s onwards has played a significant role in accelerating the development of the country. The alternative conclusion would be that individual citizens of the rest of the world are somehow significantly less capable than the Chinese, which strikes me as a odd conclusion.

And the one child policy definitely had a positive effect on the development of the country. It effectively kickstarted a middle class by enabling parents to funnel resources into a single child.


>The finance industry is already planning to exit HK (too volatile)

They have been saying this since 1997 and I have yet to see it happen. In order to have a functioning finance industry, you need people with education and a willingness to move.

Bankers won't move to China because a) personal risk b) no banker I know actually likes staying in China (they always fly back over the weekends) and c) 60% tax rate. And people just don't trust the legal system there. And Hong Kong is the next closest things.

The only bankers that I have seen move from HK to China is when they pay them 10x the salary. Those are usually family offices with private equity money. It just isn't sustainable to do.

Also, Hong Kong provides a lot of financial benefits for mainland Chinese companies. That's why there are so many shell companies in Hong Kong. All those benefits will evaporate if moved elsewhere. Even Singapore is 3-5x more difficult for a Mainlander to open a company. Added to the fact Mainlanders have no sway on the Singaporean government and have a history of cracking down hard on criminals, they are much more reluctant to swap HK for Singapore.

All this talk about the financial industry in HK going down is just wishful thinking. Even Mainlanders are logical when it comes down to business. They won't shot themselves in the foot. That's why they have been showing restrain. It's not because they are afraid of another Tiananmen Sqaure. It's because they are looking at their wallets. How much damage it would do to their own companies.


> In the end, the protests will only hurt HK.

I want to point out that Hong Kong people tried every way they can before this protest. They are aware the consequence.


IMHO, the Chinese influence over the law system will damage HKs economy more than the protests in the long term. "Protests damaging HK" is a narrative that seems to be pushed in Chinese state media.

I recommend: https://www.chinalawblog.com/2019/08/hong-kong-for-internati...


> when you're very poor, economic circumstances matter more than political freedom.

I consider the 2 to be intertwined. If you are not free to pursue a better way of life, economic circumstances matter very little. The Arab Spring was sparked by a Tunisian street vendor having all his possessions confiscated by the local police. Out of frustration he set himself on fire.

Authoritarian regimes are rarely fair and are not particularly interested in the financial well being of the population.

> The finance industry is already planning to exit HK (too volatile), and China can kill the rest of their economy.

Businesses aren't leaving HK because of the volatility, they are leaving HK because Beijing is choosing the winners and losers. And they have decided that Beijing and Shanghai will be the financial capitals.


"Authoritarian regimes are rarely fair and are not particularly interested in the financial well being of the population."

if you think Chinese government is authoritarian, then it is an exception coz it does care and try its best to improve the financial well being of the population. and it is the social contract between China government and its people. you need to realize that even "authoritarian" governments are quite different.


sure, oppressive regimes usually favor the "people". in this case if you are Han Chinese and don't have any strange ideas (eg Falun Gong, democracy, liberalism), then you can get ahead pretty well.

Otherwise not so much. See Xinjiang, Tibet, and so on.


believe or not, people in Xingjing and Tibet used to have more rights than Han Chinese. for example, they were allowed to have more than one children while Han Chinese were strictly not allowed the second child. it's much easier for Uighur and Tibetan students to go to prestigious colleges with lower scores. and so on. you name it. the government did that in hope of country unity.


"was". now it's not so.

and of course, the central power encourages integration, go to a university far from home, assimilate, etc.

And I have no problem with that on a fundamental practical level. But the reeducation camps, the constant aggressive in-your-face surveillance, the book confiscation, the history falsification, the other forms of very serious oppression is very real, and it is unacceptable.


You are completely missing the point of the protests. The HK bar association was one of the first to take to the streets back in May. The protests are about keeping the judicial system free from outside influences. HK is one of the last great neutral territories left in the world thats outside of American influence. Might I remind you almost no western country has extradition treaties with Mainland China. Even Taiwan has said back in May to cancel the Bill as it does not need the extradition of the murder suspect that started the whole bill. This is about keeping HK neutral so more Snowdens and political refugees can have a place to go. But you think this is just about $$$ truly sad.


>when you're very poor, economic circumstances matter more than political freedom

It's more than that.

Back in the 70s, Westerners could very easily make the case that the USSR was corrupt, inefficient, hopelessly backwards and fundamentally organised in the interests of the state rather than the people. The evidence was abundant, even to Soviet citizens; any possible defence of the Soviet system was predicated on blind ideological faith or a tapestry of lies.

Contemporary China is a long way from perfect, but a Chinese citizen could quite legitimately make the case that their system is superior to Western democracy on a pragmatic level. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese people who grew up in squalid shacks with no running water but now have a lifestyle that is recognisably middle class. They're on the tail end of the longest and fastest period of economic growth in human history and they're still growing - we can quibble about the percentages, but their GDP growth figures are still spectacular. While many Westerners are struggling with homelessness due to a chronic shortage of housing, Western newspapers are writing about China facing a crisis due to building too many homes.

We're not talking about North Korea, we're talking about a political system that can be legitimately defended. It's not whataboutery for Chinese people to point out the manifold problems facing many Western democracies right now - there are advantages to democracy, there are advantages to Communism with Chinese Characteristics and there's no prima facie case for the superiority of either that relies solely on pragmatism rather than ideology.

If Westerners want to promote democracy in China, their arguments will need to get a whole lot more sophisticated. Why is political and social liberty really so valuable? Why are the rights of the individual more fundamental than the rights of society as a whole? Why should troublemakers be allowed to destabilize society with impunity? Given the current political climate, finding better answers to those questions might also prove rather valuable domestically.


> but a Chinese citizen could quite legitimately make the case that their system is superior to Western democracy on a pragmatic level

It is even easier to look at India, where the putative democracy the country has has not led to any kind of economic miracle for the poor.


One success/failure story does not mean much.

There are a lot of studies about how economic prosperity and democracy/liberalism went hand in hand in a lot of countries. And there are outliers, and the studies can be questioned, and so on.

China rented out its workforce and a relatively enlightened but autocratic leadership made sure it works, they make a lot of money, and that they reinvest that.

India never had such a strong leadership. They probably spent a lot of time and energy just doing what other multi-party democracies do, squibble, play the politics game, and so on.

Also, don't forget how India slowly started to get rid of the caste system and other deep rooted inequality problems, similarly grassroots efforts to curb corruption progressed through the various courts and legislatures.

China spent no time with such sentimental stuff.


> don't forget how India slowly started to get rid of the caste system and other deep rooted inequality problems ... China spent no time with such sentimental stuff.

You might be interested in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution


I was mainly referencing the decades where the huge economic boom happened, basically/circa 1975-2005.


> Also, don't forget how India slowly started to get rid of the caste system and other deep rooted inequality problems, similarly grassroots efforts to curb corruption progressed through the various courts and legislatures. China spent no time with such sentimental stuff.

China has a full blown caste system via hukous.


How prevalent it is compared to party/political clout-based hierarchy?


Democracies are not as agile as they used to seem. The ability to move with conviction on short notice is an edge that the Chinese government has over Western nations.


I think it's not inherently Democracy's "fault". The problem is the currently prevailing fiscal and monetary culture is overly conservative.


> Back in the 70s, Westerners could very easily make the case that the USSR was corrupt, inefficient, hopelessly backwards

I generally agree with you but I think you got timeline wrong. Which matters in this example.

70s in communist countries was a period of relative prosperity. The political repressions ceased, the economies got more consumer oriented, the arms race slowed down, the goverments got more technocratic. Communist countries started to catch up with Western consumption levels. Mass housing developments, car factories, Coca-cola and Pepsi in shops etc.

Lot of younger generation had been happy to join the party not for ideological reasons but for the material prospects it opened.

Then two events happened - first oil crisis and the financial markets dried up suddenly (many communist countries borrowed heavily when money was cheap in eurodollar), second Afganistan, Reagan and Star Wars programme (arms race again).

Communist countries sliped from relative prosperity to austerity which resulted in fall of communism at the end of 80s.

What I am saying is that the revolutions happen often after long period of relative prosperity when economy starts going downhill. And we have similiar circumstances brewing in China right now.


Also your points seem to be protest don’t do anything...... so just keep allowing someone in powerful to act however they wish...

I’m sure Hilter would have loved That...: also let’s not forget about the color revolution, seem to do a lot as well.

But hey if we all cherry pick, we can see the world our way rather than reality.


You're right about the Chinese having lives through an economic miracle. But it's important to remember that the miracle was in large due to China's liberalization and integration into global markets under D Xiaoping, J Zemin, and H Jintao. Xi Jinping decided he didn't like the order, made himself an emperor, embraced extreme race-based mercantilistic nationalism and is hell bent on destroying the liberal world order which lifted millions out of poverty in the first place.


Yeah I pretty much agree with you. It's very difficult to rule a large country as China and Chinese people generally respect that. Also like you said, the failure of those color revolutions just showed other people how important stable is.


I've never understood then why the Chinese are against democracy. If everyone is happy and can't imagine a better government wouldn't they just elect the CCP every time?


> can't imagine a better government

As an American, I sometimes wonder if it is too dogmatic to treat democracy as the end all be all of governments.

As I understand it, democracy refers to a heuristic for solving the problem of reaching consensus in a decision making scenario in a system of multiple agents each having a differing opinion. In this heuristic, every agent has the right to vote on an issue in order to influence the consensus. (America is a republic so we vote on other agents to do the voting on our behalf rather than the issues themselves.)

Computer scientists can come up with all sorts of different ways of tackling the consensus problem. For example, one strategy is to choose the agents with the most information about the system (most educated) and treat their opinions as more important when reaching consensus. (As society advances and modeling societal problems become more sophisticated, solutions may require people with increasingly more domain knowledge.)

Although variations of such strategies are probably not democracies, I don't think they are necessarily inferior, if as a heuristic when tried out, are actually effective.

If there's a formal proof that democracy is, in fact, the best government, I'm open to hearing it though.

When people say they want democracy, don't they often mean more specifically that they want rule of law / due process? Is it not possible to have both a government that have characteristics that make it authoritarian / not democratic but also have rule of law?


I would love to discuss these questions, starting with ”is consensus or effect what we’re really measuring?” or ”if the agents get to decide how they’re evaluates, what effect does that have?” but it really has very little to do with the fact that if everyone loves the CCP and they are doing a great job, democracy could be introduced without any real hassle.


Maybe not all, but Chinese people want democracy. There's one case of a village that elected their own leaders in China. See Hong Kong, Tienanmen Square Massacre, Wukan Democracy experiment (Mainland Chinese) or Taiwan (ROC/CCP say Taiwan is part of China).

But you will find that CCP insists on having the last say. Imagine electing Trump and Walmart CEO says we won't support the plan to build USA-Mexico wall. Trump says ok.


Yeah, I was a bit generalizing in my comment and could've phrased it better. What I meant to say was that I don't understand how so many Chinese people reconcile the idea that the CCP enjoys nation wide support with the perspective that democracy and checks an balances would make China worse. If everything's awesome and just what the people want the CCP would just get legitimacy not just domestically but also in the International community.


If a country is not ready for Democracy with the necessary amount of development/safeguards, this can be a disaster.

Like installing an internet connected Windows XP on your network with no updates, it introduces tremendous attack vectors that established actors/economies (UK, France, US, Germany) will be all to happy to exploit.


And when is a country ready for democracy? Why was Taiwan ready for democracy decades ago but Shanghai is not?


No because "hope for better always exists".

If some new party comes and aims at the weak spots of CCP like censorship etc...etc... And promises that we'll keep economy as fast as CCP does minus the personal freedom restrictions. People will vote for them.

And new party might even attempt this and take economy several years back.

Democracy will include lots of selling hopes and setbacks...it takes time to learn new lessons for public


But democracy would also open up new ides to run the country that would create an even stronger economy. After all, it was the CCP ceding control ocer much of the economy that laid the ground work for the Chinese economic boom, for most of the CCP’s history it has failed miserably at its job and set China back by decades. There’s no reason to believe it has found the optimal solution now.

Plus, we could maybe see a fairer distribution of wealth and prosperity. Wealth disparity is a very big problem in China.


CCP above all care about their own power then comes China's interest.

I simply posted why they might not want democracy. As they might fear about losing power.

If we assume democracy does good, but it still makes CCP lose power then it's not good for CCP and they'll not want it.

If democracy will actually be good or bad, that's open discussion. But that's not point of my comment.


It's difficult, but ironically the real enemy of every large developing nation is its own populism/chauvinism.

When the young ruling elite encounters a crisis, a real problem, often they see that doing it in a transparent and equitable way would only serve as gunpowder for their detractors. Hence the very fast descent into totalitarianism.

And it's no wonder the real crisis of every regime is not some natural disaster, or economic collapse... no, in large nation states the game is entirely about the meta level, the power, and how to keep it, how to distribute it. Naturally this leads to the aforementioned populism/nationalism/etc.


I don't think it is correct. Chinese people truly are in a support of China's leaders and China's policies, just like Soviet people were in support of the Soviet policies.

Had it not been the case, there would have been no government capable of stopping the rebellion: if one solider can control a 100 citizens (via say bullets) then in order to control 1.3 billion, China would need to give bullets to 130 million people so if 10% of them switch sides the other side gets 13 million people with bullets who aren't friendly to the party line.

That's exactly how the USSR fell. Population stopped supporting the government.


Yes it's true. Chinese government actually learned a lot from the Soviet government so that it survived.

Plus Soviet was actually brought down by many of the high officials themselves.


Uh...you probably don’t know that Chineses have a nickname for the Russian ethnic group: the race of true fighters(战斗种族). On the other hand, Han Chinese is especially bad at rebellion, being conquered multiple times from the north in the history


If we looked at the past though, the Han Chinese did rebel many times, both agains conquering (e.g. the Yuan and Qing) and native dynasties and these rebellions were often successful.

When you think about it, even the current CCP regime started as a rebel army.


Right I should add that those rebellions would happen when the economy is extremely bad and the living condition is intolerable.


Authoritarianism breeds corruption. When the next scandal hits, and the corruption is revealed, maybe the citizens will revolt (again) against the CCP.


Nah, it doesn't work that way. It never did.

In feudal times ther were many instances of folks from higher classes abusing the folks from the lower ones. Nothing really happened, some isolated instances of retribution happened, and that was it.

Scandals/abuses worked the same way in the USSR. The very worst offenders eventually got shifted around the system. (source: https://www.libri.hu/konyv/majtenyi_gyorgy.kommunista-kiskir... alas no English translation, but there are probably similar surveys of historically documented real stories about how the men of the ruling party were somehow always more powerful than the official propaganda stated how equal everyone is)


> The finance industry is already planning to exit HK (too volatile), and China can kill the rest of their economy. Rich HKers will leave.

What makes you certain of that? HK did attract more billionaires/rich people in the last few years despite the volatility.


They protest not because they don't have money, but because Beijing is essentially taking their money away by eating into their legal system, which is ultimately what makes HK competitive.


China decolonizing and unifying. Anyone aligned with the wrong incentives (undermining/sabotaging China) will get put-right shortly.


> "I think a lot of people who were born in the west don't understand that, when you're very poor, economic circumstances matter more than political freedom."

While this is true, I think those improved economic circumstances will eventually create a need for more political freedom. Chinese people already make occasional demands of their government, and that will only become more common. I think that as China grows more prosperous, it will eventually also have to become more free.


I think Sapolsky's Behave also had a good insight here (not his, just referenced) about the importance of the general culture of a region -- namely whether it's a Collectivist or Individualist. This simple dichotomy can explain a great many misunderstandings, talkings-past-each-other and (interestingly) quite a few differences in moral judgements.


Yes it's true. The more I live in western countries the less I argue with other people about these political things. Today might be the exception though...people are right to have their own views, there is no need to agree with each other...


You say "it's true" and yet you continue to say something completely tangential to what I said?

I did not state any position on the matter at hand.


Totally agree and glad this comment is at the top, so many western commentators don't understand this. The Chinese people are aware they live in a autocratic regime but they didn't build up their country into an economic powerhouse by complaining about freedom of speech all day like western countries. They put their head down and got to work and made do with what they had. When ridiculous censorship rules like banning Winnie the pooh images were imposed they just made jokes about it instead of throwing a tantrum. That being said I concur it is possible that in the long term too much autocratic power to its rulers could lead to blowback the day the people at the top truly lose their minds but the ccp has generally been quite competent compared to what we might see at the white house (although I guess this is debatable). I think Hong Kong could learn a thing or two from the Chinese people


I think this narrative is very misleading.

They did complain a lot about how the CCP plunged the country into the largest famine in history because of their incompetence. It was this incompetence that led to the rise of Deng Xiaoping. Mao then launched the Cultural Revolution during which different factions in the CCP fought with each other rather than "keep their head down". At Tiananmen Square in 1976 millions of people, peasants and rich, shouted slogans attacking Mao and the Gang of Four. Deng Xiaoping then launched the economic miracle by reducing CCP involvement in the economy .

To say that the history of modern China is a long, stable period where the people never spoke up and built a powerhouse economy by listening to the directives of the all knowing CCP is historical revisionism at best.


I thought Chinese economic gain was due to the US government opening up relations with the Chinese government as a way of countering the Soviet Union. I'm not sure how much credit the Chinese Communist Party deserves for that.


There are certain ironies. I don't think you can attribute the initial growth in 1980s to the U.S. investments. The initial growth in 1980s was largely driven by Hong Kong and Taiwan investments.


How did HK investment affect PRC? Through Shenzen becoming a commercial hub?

What about TW? I'm not seeing the connection to the PRC there.

Money wouldn't have flown into PRC (and it would have collapsed with the rest of the communism) if the US hadn't opened up investment.


Ukrainian revolutions (2004 and 2013) reached their goals: non-rigged democratic elections. As for lost Crimea: with Yanukovich still in power whole southern and eastern part of country would be lost and own army would fight resistance and help Russian invasion.


> Chinese people today have lived through an economic miracle. If I lived there I doubt I'd criticize their system, especially considering people still can remember worse times. For young Hong Kongers however, they didn't live during British rule. They were born into wealth, and now their own career prospects (like many millenials around the world) aren't great. So they protest.

... And their kids will probably look at their own situation being worse than their parents and protests in response.


I beg to differ here , it does not quite work when you have an opulent upper class and the rest will start to wonder why they are in that situation.

This is what happened in South Africa and in also France as it does not take much to figure out that political freedom is required to make a fundamental change.

I think in China the ruling party elite seemingly were not so much different from the peasants in the beginning and everybody lives improved overall as they adopted Mao's two systems approach.


>Chinese people today have lived through an economic miracle.

I just want to point out that WW2 was fought with horses[1]. It's not like the West has always been fully industrialized. The development may appear as a miracle to the people, but it is not out of ordinary.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horses_in_World_War_II


Seems like you’ve never been to Hong Kong or merely stayed in Hong Kong Island or SoHo.... go outside those areas people live in some bad conditions. If fact, many fishing villages use steel sheets for housing.

Take a tour outside the shopping district or the high end business district.

Having lived in both places, it’s clear why their school books repeatly give opinion rather than statements.


> After all, having money (or not) affects what you can or cannot do far more than whoever's in charge.

This is why I get up in the morning, goals


I guess it doesn't hurt that people who make too much rhetorical noise, tend to find themselves in all sorts of trouble. Hard to criticize in that circumstance! As you point out, if you are on the receiving end of "good fortune" you might have a lot of incentives at questioning that fortune.


I'm not quite as pessimistic as you regarding HK and Ukraine. In the short run, yes, the powerful people (China, Putin) will win. In the long run, will Putin and his cronies continue to have the economic power to strong arm all of Ukraine? I highly doubt it. In the long run will the CPC continue to pull 100m's in poverty into wealth while protecting their failing water systems, soil systems, international good will? Again, I highly doubt it. I think the long term is in favor of HK and Ukraine, not against it.

Edit: And regarding Occupy, it is often considered the most successful protest in modern Western history. Countless leaders and young people have seen it as a blueprint and guide to how to continue their struggle. I have seen dozens if not hundreds of videos on youtube that cite the enormous progress Occupy made on how to run a successful protest in the current era, and movements such as Extinction Rebellion are going to take those tactics to another level.


Long term, if Ukraine succeeds, it'll be because of pragmatic politicians like Zelensky. Not because of anti-Russian fervor.

And if HK and China do eventually become liberal democracies, it'll be because of gradual change within the Chinese government.

I'm personally very optimistic about their long term prospects, I just think history has taught us that violent revolution or sudden change usually leads to negative consequences in the short to mid term. There's more than enough examples in our lifetime.

On the other hand, most of the economic gains, the reduction of poverty around the world, the economic development of Europe, Asia and Africa have all been done thanks to the rule of law, relative peace, investment, etc... Not due to revolution.


Sensible man.


If the government can throw you in into a re-education camp at a snap of their fingers, that's not economic prosperity in my book. Better to be poor and free than economically sufficient at the pleasure and whim of a dictator.

The entire concept of economic prosperity is meaningless outside a free market with due process protections. If the government can take away your prosperity for no reason at all, it's purely arbitrary and ephemeral whether or not you actually have it at any given moment.


> Better to be poor and free than economically sufficient at the pleasure and whim of a dictator

Just how poor have you ever been?


Great question. I would guess the person stating the strong opinion above has never had it tested by being in those circumstances and seeing how far it holds.


How many years have you spent in jail as a political prisoner?


The same amount as the vast majority of of people in China: 0


The millions in Xinjiang would like a word. Why do you spend your free time defending a brutal autocracy on the internet?


Because the truth is more important than making up lies to feel good about yourself? Also, let's talk about the "Land of the Free" for a moment...

China's incarceration rate -- for crime -- is 118 per 100,000, for 1,649,804 total. Let's add the DOD claim that an extra 3m are held in re-education camps, and take that to 4.5m, which takes us to 308 per hundred thousand. The US figure is _655_, disproportionately poor people.


Mindless babble and whataboutism. I thought this website had more intelligent conversation..

Comparing an over-zealous drug incarnation against a political political concentration camp is just perfect. Every time I visit Europe I encounter similar lazy thinking from aging leftists and teenage anarchists.


Ironically, President Xi was sent to a re-education camp when he was younger.


a lot of lies in these paragraphs, like Ukraine being the poorest country in Europe.


This person believes what he wrote and is not a pawn of the chinese government.


>I think a lot of people who were born in the west don't understand that, when you're very poor, economic circumstances matter more than political freedom. After all, having money (or not) affects what you can or cannot do far more than whoever's in charge.

Economic concerns elected Trump.


Except that is wrong. The average Trump voter had more money and assets. Disproportionate wrong-headed electoral college are what got him elected - he lost by 13 million votes!


You can still have economic concerns whether you are poor or wealthy. This is going to be the biggest driver of a presidential election: who is going to make me better off.


You're off by an order of magnitude. Trump received 62.98 m votes while Clinton received 65.85 m. That's a difference of 2.87 m votes not 13 million. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidentia...)


Ah I mixes it up with the bizzare 13 million illegal immigrant Hillary voters claims - assuming that was the loss margin he was trying to delegitimize.


that makes sense, plus the brainwash on a daily basis also helped


I had a similar experience chatting to my former coworker (who moved recently from China) regarding Taiwan. I said Taiwan is pretty much an independent country given it has it's own currency, military and democratic government. She looked at me like I was telling her the earth was flat. She was smart and good natured, and didn't have any opposing reasons, but she insisted Taiwan was simply another province of China.

Really made an impression on me. I bet most of my beliefs are baloney too, but I have no idea which ones they are.


I had a similar experience meeting a friend of a coworker at a social function. Someone brought up the Dalai Lama and Tibet, and she seemed completely unable or unwilling to accept that Tibet had even ever _not_ fully and totally willingly been an administrative division of China, or that China had acted in any way inappropriately.

As far as she was concerned, Tibetans were Chinese, not a distinct group.

It was eye opening.


It just says how different views different people can have. I'm pretty sure it was eye opening for her too...

I have been living in the West long enough to not argue those stuffs. The Chinese government has its bad and its good, but so far it's doing OK, and I can't imagine any other government could do better, or even on par.


Why can't you imagine anyone do better?

It is easy to see all the good things that happened in China in the last decades, and see the things that work. But I can very easily imagine a better government in China, much like I can do so for the US and in EU countries.

The CCP is running literal concentration camps, is suppressing free speech, using (possibly) questionable economic measures, strongarming other independent countries, censoring and even harvesting organs of prisoners for profit (probably for political elites). And most of those things on a scale previously unimaginable. Furthermore, one might argue (and I am not saying this is black and white) that the process of raising people out of poverty has as much to do with technical progress, foreign trade and China's geographical and demographic makeup, as it has to do with actual policy (and one could therefore imagine even better outcomes!)

I think it is indeed very easy to imagine things going better in China!

That's the entire point, I think. Citizens should be willing and able to be unhappy with their governments, and be able to express this without disappearing. That you can not imagine anyone doing better in China is what the OP was talking about.

Edit: Just to make this clear, I do not want a discussion on the merits of the CCPs policies - everyone can have their own opinion on that - much like for any other country. But the worry is the well rehearsed narrative that China is somehow unique and requires, basically, an iron fist rule. This I have seen many times in discussions with Chinese - saying that all these criticisms may be good and well for other countries, but not for China. And this in the end amounts to unwillingness to question the CCP in any way. And that, I think, is not good.


I can't any imagine any other real government can do better. Sorry forgot to put real. I don't follow ideas unless it's actionable. You can imagine a lot of good things for sure, but won't be useful if not actionable.

Like I said, it has its good and bad, but generally I think it's OK. I didn't say it's all good.

Now let's look at the list: 1) Concentration camps and organ harvesting: I'm not going to argue about these as I'll say you don't have true proofs and you will say I'm brainwashed, we will never agree to each other. Organ harvesting actually does happen, I can say for that, because I just read a report (in Chinese btw) a few days ago, but it was not large scale and definitely not in the ideology.

2) Suppressing free speech: Yes that's one of the bad, but TBH you can blame the government online as much as you want because so many other people are doing the same...people seldom got caught JUST because of that. For example. the protesters in HK was not even put into prison for some of their violent actions, and if that's not enough I really can't say more.

3) Questionable economic measures: Not a new thing, pretty much every government of the world is doing the same thing since like...beginning of civilization?

4) Strongarming other independent countries: Not a new thing, pretty much every government of the world is doing the same thing since like...beginning of civilization? Just the real world, more the reason that people should work hard instead of dreaming about vacations to fight off these strongarmings. TBH with the economic strength of China it is quite peaceful...

In short, citizens are indeed able to express their unhappy with the government, and a lot of people (in the mainland) protest, too. The weird thing about my western friends is that they seem to be pretty scared about China, and I honestly can't tell why...


The state-sponsored organ theft is speculative, both in extent and purpose.

But the concentration camps for Uyghers are well-documented, and they really can't be grouped with the organ donation claims. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps .


> For example. the protesters in HK was not even put into prison for some of their violent actions, and if that's not enough I really can't say more.

I'm neither educated nor motivated enough to argue with most of this. But preventing China from punishing HK people according to China's laws is the _entire point_ of the protests, is it not?


It might be legitimate for a western people e.g. you may be used to get different laws in different levels of government, but it's utterly unthinkable for the Chinese. The fact that HK even keeps foreign judges and officials pretty much surprised a lot of Chinese.


You know Taiwan and Korea are successful democracies right? Why do you think people choosing their leaders is a western attribute? The PRC itself is even ostensibly run by the people (it obviously isn't).


If Hong Kongers really are Chinese then, on the contrary, it's thinkable.


I didn't ask for your opinion about the protests, because you've already made it quite obvious. It is complete bullshit to use them as an example to say that the freedom of speech of the average Chinese citizen isn't restricted.


I am not going to engage with concentration camps and organ harvesting, but I would have enough links and even official reports on the validity. It is - as you said - not even a thing the CCP even denies in the first place (and the path from denial to admitting their existence is telling). The other measures targeting Muslims are official policy, so we don't need to argue about those either. So we can disagree on the interpretation of all these measures and how impactful they are - and honestly, this is a discussion for another forum.

I would also argue that China has been strongarming other countries in excess to any other nation except for the USA in recent decades. China is the only country that uses face and "people's feelings" as distinct political instruments. But this is also not my main point and also not the point of the OP.

For the other things, let me make two points. First, your assertion that this also happens in other countries does not make it okay. This is a fallacy often used. What I am saying is that the rate and fashion to how these things are reporting on, protested against, and dealt with in other countries, is much different than in China. It is a fact that many bad things happen in Western countries right this moment. But the people arrested or disappearing for pointing these things out is pretty much zero. I was just on business in the US, and watching MSNBC and Fox News at the same time, it's clear that there is a huge range for opinions on literally all political and economic actions and actors - and they are strongly voiced. Indeed the US has a strong culture of government distrust and conspiracy theorists that simply would not exist in China. In (most of) the EU, measures done by the CCP could never even be implemented at all, as neither the political force. executive capabilities, nor the acceptance in the population exists in such a way. But even if these things would be implemented, you could always find a country that does things better, treats people better and is more humane. So I think this framing is really useless, whether we argue about China, the USA or Sweden.

Second, why are people afraid of China? We are afraid because we do not want the Chinese model to succeed. As much as it helped pull people from poverty, it has created and cemented an incredibly wealthy and powerful upper class, and we are rightfully worried that our own elites take some hints. We are not scared of Chinese soldiers marching into our country, but if China would develop similar cultural hegemony as the US has currently, our world would be be much worse (at least for me, as I am a minority). China violates very basic tenets of human rights that we believe enable us to live freely. China also implements the mechanisms necessary to push strongly the will of the majority on the minority - or to be more precise, the will of someone on anyone. Again, I only need to mention the very real plight of Muslims in China - "uniformize or perish" - for you to hopefully see this point. This very same thing could happen easily elsewhere, and indeed we have seen it happen in the past. You may, for example, want to google the term "Stasi" if you have the time.

Its a tiresome trope, but people valuing a free society will always be deadly afraid that living with a boot on their necks is an actual viable political and economic model, because if it is, what's keeping history from swinging exactly that way? Free and tolerant societies are the exception in history and we - especially minorities in any sense - would like that to change! Is it a pipe dream? Maybe - but that's exactly where this fear comes from. It is probably difficult to understand this point if you belong to both a local and (eventually) globally dominant grouping.

Finally, as to your first sentence: I think it is ALSO easy to propose many actionable and easy measures to make things better in China, for example, stop doing the things we agree are "bad". And many countries or governments are not doing these things. So I ask again, why can you not imagine anything better? And furthermore, where would we be if we can not imagine anything better?


China is a one-party state where even the army belongs to the party. It's possible to imagine something worse; we've had plenty of examples, unfortunately.

It's easy to imagine something better.


I'd love to imagine, but in reality TBH I don't see a lot of positive examples.

If you hate the one-party idea, just think one more layer -- there are factions inside the party, probably more than 2 actually.


New Zealand, all the Nordic countries, many western democracies all provide very good examples of good government without jailing people who speak up against their rulers and without strict censorship laws

They are all really nice countries to live in too


New Zealand and all the Nordic countries can fit into a suburb of Shanghai.

I think most westerners don't realize the magnitude of China and that managing/ruling/governing a country of 1.3B diverse citizens with thousands of a years of history is a larger challenge than managing a small country.


So "better" entirely depends on your values, right?

Ever heard of the phrase "better to die on your feet, than live on your knees?"

Not everyone shares the ethos that a full belly is happiness and goodness. There is more to life than mere material goods. What makes a life worth living even? I guess if you have a job all is good, at least as per your line of argumentation.


Not only is there the inherent moral value of freedom, but from a purely material standpoint, if the government has the right to take away your precious job and full belly for any reason, you don't really own it at all.


Of course it depends on my own values. Aren't you the same? I'm sorry I don't accept your values, but I'm OK if you don't accept mine.


How do you know it's doing good when they have a reputation for censor and change narratives to suit their agenda?


They also have a reputation of carrying billions of people out from poverty and to prosperity. Of course the credit mostly goes to the people, but still it's something.

Sure I don't like the censorship and change narratives, but most governments do the same thing. Let me know if you find one government that is both competent and honest.


>They also have a reputation of carrying billions of people out from poverty and to prosperity.

So did the Soviet Union. They lifted hundreds of millions of people from the ruinous World World 2 to a modern industrial society. It's what happened after _that_ that warrants concern.

Another argument is that, yes, CCP did lift most of the population out of subsistence poverty, but can another Party do better? Can the Taiwanese Republic of China government do better (probably not)? can another party modernize China in less time than CCP's 50 years (1949-2000)?

As for censorship and change narratives. I can swear at the leader of my country without fear. Can you do the same to Xi in China?


For your last question. Can you swear to the police or even hit him with you hand without much fear? You can do that in China...


I live in Sweden and yes, absolutely, I can do that. I've seen people swear towards the police and absolutely nothing happened.

Assaulting someone by hitting them however is not a freedom, you're violating someone else's freedom of not being harmed. Which is not what the post you're responding to was mentioning.

It looks like you want to steer the discussion away from free speech, because you know the West has that and China doesn't, towards an argument that if you can't do anything you want in the West it's not really free. Which has nothing to do with China.


There's none. That's why people rely on elections and news to hear about events even if they are not favourable to the government. Better informed people can then keep the bastards honest.

When you don't have either, what can you do about it?


We do have both. The election doesn't work the same way as in other countries, but I'd be lying if I say there is none. For the news, you can find quite a lot of news that are not favorable to the government on weibo/wechat if you read Chinese.

I don't fully agree with censorship (they do serve some good I must say that), but it's not black and white. I'm also very pessimistic about "better-informed" people. Receiving news from different sources doesn't make you just. You can't receive A and B and just average them.


> I'm also very pessimistic about "better-informed" people. Receiving news from different sources doesn't make you just. You can't receive A and B and just average them.

... you don't average them. You use critical thinking to evaluate the information with regards to its sources, their agendas and integrate those sources. When there are contradictions you try to understand why.


And carrying anyone who opposed them into economic ruin (to say the least) in a reeducation camp.

Not to mention that most of that was enabled by IP theft, abuse of workers, lack of safety and quality standards, and other dishonest means.


"I can't imagine any other government could do better." Well, that's exactly the point, isn't it?


> The Chinese government has its bad and its good, but so far it's doing OK

Are people really just ok with concentration camps in 2019?


My girlfriend is the same, this Hong Kong issue has been quite the discussion point whenever something news worthy happens. I'm pretty sure some of my beliefs has been swayed by western propaganda but she believes China is not in the wrong here, she knows loosely about 1984 and is aware of what's happening with muslims but with HK she and a lot of my other mainland friends think the protesters are destroying everything, who knows how their opinions shape if China decides to start cleansing HK but it's interesting to see how deep this ideology is rooted and it's even more interesting to see her opinions change the longer she lives in a democratic country (like she tried talking about Xi Jinping to her mainland friends but they told her to cut it out since she forgot about the lack of free speech over there).

I think everyone has different definitions of freedom, some might think it only means to be physically free but lack of free speech and lack of proper human rights are a-ok because they don't know any better.


Everyone feels a lack of free speech about issues they want to discuss. The hard part is establishing a shared understanding that some issues you'd like to discuss will always end up being inconvenient to the powers that be. Most Chinese citizens I've seen discuss the issue argue that they're simply immune to the problem; that as long as you're a responsible person just trying to live a good life, the government won't end up strongly interfering with what you want to say.


True. Actually discussing the leaders doesn't do anyone any good. For one, how do you know the things you being fed are real? And what are you going to do if it's real/not real? Just venting?

If you don't like the leadership, there are plenty of other ways to improve that, but talking is the cheapest.


And that all sounds well and good to most people, until it's their dad who the leaders decide should be shipped off to a re-education camp. But it's too late at that point; even if I go around yelling to everyone that my dad's not a terrorist, they know just as well as I once did that yelling at government leaders means I'm a cheap agitator with nothing better to do.


So, your suggestion is that change should be organized without talking about it, did I understand that right?

Gee, the authoritarian brainwashing really is strong with you.


No. You misundertood. Changes cannot be achieved by simple talking. You have to complain and do things if it doesn't work. BTW I agree with peaceful protesters.


> You misundertood.

Quoting you:

> Actually discussing the leaders doesn't do anyone any good.

So: No, I didn't.

> Changes cannot be achieved by simple talking.

Yes, they can. And are. Constantly.

> You have to complain and do things if it doesn't work.

No. For one, many things can be changed by talking, and talking only. But also, there is absolutely nothing wrong if someone only talks about things being bad where action besides talking is required to change things. It's neither morally wrong, nor is it useless, if your talking is what enables others to implement the changes.

What actually is completely useless is complaining about people only talking about a problem. Absolutely nothing useful can possibly come from that. But it's a common fallacy used by authoritarians and parroted by their followers, nothing particularly special to China. Which is the general impression I get from a lot of your arguments in this discussion: Tons of typical authoritarian fallacies the likes of which you would also hear from right-wing nationalists in "western countries".


What does she think of Tiananmen Square?


Not really sure, it's a bit mixed. She knows about the event and people died but not the specifics like Tank Man, the APC pies, mowing down students at chokepoints etc She didn't know about the event until I told her so she probably doesn't have a strong opinion either way just knows it was bad. It's a hard subject to broach.


Something could have easily been lost in translation--on your end--there. For Taiwan in particular, there's a lot of nuance and purposeful ambiguity in its relationship with mainland China.

The ROC's official policy is that Taiwan is just another province of China, which the ROC administers (along with part of Fujian province); the ROC, furthermore, is the legitimate government of all of China, including the island, current mainland, many of the PRC's disputed territorial claims, and even Mongolia. This is more or less identical to the PRC position. There are many Taiwanese who do see it as a totally separate country, but that's controversial even within Taiwan.

If you had asked her the more concrete question about whether Taiwan is currently administered by an entity calling itself the ROC, I guarantee there wouldn't have been such a manifest gap in understanding.


> The ROC's official policy is that Taiwan is just another province of China, which the ROC administers (along with part of Fujian province); the ROC, furthermore, is the legitimate government of all of China

To be fair, part of the reason that is the official policy is because the PRC is perceived to be (because it's pretty openly said this) more willing to be tolerant of dispute over which one governs all of China (which the PRC can't reasonably lose barring some radical inversion of power) than Taiwan declaring independence, such that the latter would be more likely to lead to war to settle the dispute.


Of course. And if China pledged to respect the results of a unification vs independence referendum, independence would likely win in a landslide.

But the concrete disagreement mentioned in the comment I was responding to seemed to imply that the writer thought that his coworker might literally think that the ROC did not currently administer Taiwan, while she certainly does know that; it's a gap in understanding because the comment writer didn't realize that whether Taiwan a province of China is not how mainlanders conceptualize the dispute.

I would be curious to know if the average mainlander recognizes that most Taiwanese see themselves as having a separate identity and would ideally have a separate country, which is a real on-the-ground fact that I can imagine being glossed over in education and media.


> I bet most of my beliefs are baloney too, but I have no idea which ones they are.

This is waaay off thread-topic, but this is very very important to recognize and learn to internalize at deeper levels that you probably recognize. I just wanted you to know that I know that you just made a very important first step (and it never stops).


Skepticism, indeed, should be more common.

Unfortunately a lot of people fall through into some conspiracy black hole.

The proper way to look at this is of course the rationalist/epistemological framework of belief updates (which is better called model fitting).

Skepticism is not just doubting everything, it's trying to find the model of the world that consistently maximally fits the data/observations/experiences.

China doing brainwashing is consistent, but the moon landing was a hoax is not. (Because that model in which everything is a hoax and the deep state is controlling everything is too simple, so it's useless, kind of like Pascal's wager without the afterlife part.)


To be fair "Taiwan simply another province of China." is the official positive of the Taiwan government also


That is the official stance of the ROC, along with outer Mongolia. It isn’t the popular perception among the 70% of Taiwanese who do not consider themselves mainlanders, including many of those currently in political office.


But they also officially state that all the other provinces are currently being occupied by the PRC.


You should also ask US State Department and United Nation that question?


Any entity involving millions of people is never just one thing. So if you start with the premise that an entity like Taiwan "is" something and therefore "is not" another thing, you're setting yourself up to be wrong no matter which thing you decide it is.

The only thing it "is", for sure, is complicated.


Upvoted. Not sure why you got downvoted.


Isn't it simply the propaganda and talking about different concept?

You are referring to effective situation.

The Chinese student is talking about his perceived mental recognition.

You need first get straight to the point that your notion of independent nation is such and such.

The Chinese student needs to say regardless the Taiwan situation, we believe it's part of China.

That's why I believe Taiwan likely will never be part of China formally: I.e. the separation is so long and so deep that remedy it would be economical and politically too costly.

On the other hand, when China finally become the an order of magnitude more powerful nation than, presumably the second in rank. I predict Taiwan will be effectively part of China's paper sphere, but never formally to integrate.


Otherwise "smart" people can be completely boneheaded politically if they actively choose to be unread about politics, current affairs, history, the arts etc.


I wonder what a person from Taiwan might think


Taiwan is a province which currently under control Republic of China, another province is Fujian. So yeah technically Taiwan is a province of China.


Or how many Russians don't understand why Ukraine for example is upset.

Is as if propaganda works. Who would have thought.

Once I was discussing with a Chinese colleague and the Tiananmen subject came up (it was in the news, I didn't bring it up), and he told me that the students were not that innocent either, that they killed 150 soldiers the night before. I asked him, how could some students with rocks kill 150 soldiers with machine guns, but he said it was true. As suspected, I couldn't find any reputable sources for this later when I did extensive googling.


There is a lot of nuance there. Some soldiers were killed by protesters, but it wasn’t the student protesters rather beijingers who were pissed about the PLA coming into town (the PKU students were already mostly back in their dorms by this point). The soldiers also weren’t armed, this being early and back then they were afraid to just give the soldiers weapons (not all of the PLA agreed with the crackdown). They eventually brought in troops from further away garrisons fully armed that were less sympathetic to the protesters (local garrisons back then were staffed with soldiers from Beijing).

So your colleague wasn’t completely lying, but the truth belies a lot more intrigue. I think this is all in the wiki article.

The biggest problem (at least from the CPC’s point of view) is that the PRC completely lacked non lethal riot suppression capabilities. They literally had nothing in between just standing there unarmed and full on military assault. Afterwards, they built up the PAP (people’s armed police) very quickly, and you can see them often practicing in Beijing.


It's worrying that our concept of extensive searching relies entirely on one advertising conglomerate.


Maybe that's YOUR concept, but not everyone's. If you go to Wikipedia, you can look at citations from a variety of sources, which doesn't depend on Google. You could go to the website of various news organizations and search through their archives, which also does not depend on Google.


Worry not! These days we also have Scihub, which is an absolute eye-opener for me as someone who never bothered with research papers before.


Sean's comment above about 'a lot of nuance' is a huge understatement.

First off, I think China is a corrupt superpower and a huge threat to the USA, and there is no comparison or ambiguity about who the good guys are (the USA).

But the Tiananmen Square thing was severely fucked up. Originally the soldiers were not allowed to fire on civilians, and they were lynched and burned alive. There are lots of photos of the corpses of the soldiers being displayed or placed in conspicuous places by the civilians.

The civilians could kill the soldiers because the soldiers were under orders not to hurt civs.


As a Chinese American, I've noticed that propaganda is everywhere and we all need to be wary of it.

Tiananmen is often brought up, but did you know that the US experienced a parallel event? I didn't learn about this in US history class, but apparently soldiers fired upon unarmed student protesters in the Kent State shooting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings


The Kent State shooting is taught in almost all high school history classes. Not sure how you missed it.

It's also a totally different scale - 4 vs. a number in the hundreds to thousands.

We don't even know the numbers for sure because it's been clamped down so massively, vs. Kent State, where we know exactly what happened.


I'm super glad it was taught in your high school history class!

I dug up my AP US History textbook and found that it was covered in half a sentence. So I guess this was how I missed it: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6x8Zfgh8HSuCbRdB8


America has had so many shootings you can't really cover them all. For example the one I was never taught was the Greenwood Massacre despite its scale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_riot


I wouldn't say it's taught in almost all high school history classes. In my experience the history curriculum doesn't cover very many things past world war 2. For example the New York State social studies curriculum has everything from 1945-1990 in a single unit, with the Vietnam war being a sub-unit ( http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/curriculum-... )


Sorry, I forgot that America is the only country in the world where a certain number of people need to die by shooting for people to care, and that number has never been attained...


You're putting words in my mouth and totally misrepresenting my point.

I never said we shouldn't care about Kent State, nor have I said that it was unimportant.

What I said is that Tiananmen was several orders of magnitude worse, and while anyone in the US can look up Kent State and other horrible occurrences in their history books, many of them found in schools, or in any other place they'd like, people in China cannot look up the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I am replying to someone claiming that the US has done the same with Kent State as China has done with Tiananmen Square and that the events were equal to begin with. So if you can show me where the US has tried to cover up the fact that Kent State happened at even 1/1000th of the effort that China has gone through to cover up Tiananmen Square, or that the loss of human life between the two is similar, this might be a productive conversation.

In the mean time, you're responding to a point I never made and words I never said.


Notice how you can link to an US website for a lot of information on it, which in turn is linking to 100+ more. Compare this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings#Memorials... with this https://vimeo.com/44078865

and also compare "Twenty-eight guardsmen fired approximately 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds" with this, which itself is just a tip of the iceberg: https://www.reddit.com/r/HongKong/comments/cth1c0/reposting_...


Wow I haven't seen those before. The reddit images were really powerful and disturbing. There's no arguing that the Chinese government has committed atrocities and is trying to cover them up.

My point is just that, I feel like the Western dialogue is often "Look at these horrible things that happen in China. Isn't propaganda sad?" My point is that propaganda is happening everywhere. Yes, it's happening in China blatantly and fragrantly. But everyone needs to be wary and alert that it might be happening even in seemingly "safe" countries.

For instance, I enjoyed your vimeo link and it compellingly documented the obvious censorship of the issue. The video made clear that some people clearly know what happened on 6/4 but it's not socially okay to talk about.

Interestingly, there is a small and consistent mistranslation in the subtitles. What the video translates as "don't record it", is "don't record me". Aka, some of the subjects take issue with the videographer recording people without permission. In addition to the sensitive topic, (I imagine) some part of their discomfort on screen is due to being randomly interviewed and recorded. But this was seemingly mistranslated in the videographer's favor? I point this out, not to argue with the message of the video, but to show that there is nuance/spin happening everywhere.

Thank you for taking the time to share these very interesting links. I'm grateful that I live in a place where it's possible to have this open and reasonable dialogue.


> My point is that propaganda is happening everywhere. Yes, it's happening in China blatantly and fragrantly. But everyone needs to be wary and alert that it might be happening even in seemingly "safe" countries.

Yes, I totally agree. To scapegoat the CCP as "the" evil power center would not only be unfair and hypocritical, it would be dangerous.

For me as a German, I a lot of beef with "my" country, "the West" etc. But that doesn't make me like Putin or the CCP, etc. If anything, the more corruption or tyranny there already is, the worse any additional "amount" of it becomes, if you know what I mean.

Of course that also means I cannot excuse "our" crimes with that of the CCP. For me that'd be like using the misdeeds of others to excuse one's own, which is actually worse than just doing the misdeed. And criticizing elsewhere is easy.

But so is looking the other way, and I also must not do that, I can't. If I want to secure and deserve what freedom I have, I have to support that of others, at least in principle, always.

> But this was seemingly mistranslated in the videographer's favor? I point this out, not to argue with the message of the video, but to show that there is nuance/spin happening everywhere.

No disagreement here either. And it really disheartens me when causes with legitimate grievances "give it a little extra". I wish people were more strict about that, it's a real problem. And making such small corrections, no matter how benign or factual, gets people labeled as "being in the other camp" so quickly, which is the worst part, apart from people thinking in terms of "sides" alll the time in the first place. So thanks for pointing this out.

And thank you for taking the time as well :)


You are free to talk about Kent state, it is covered in a lot of documentaries. There is even a monument at Kent State about it (as opposed to the “nothing happened here 6/4/89” plaque at Tiananmen Square). It isn’t taught in HS history class for the sake reason that Vietnam war is not taught (there is simply too much history and not enough time to cover it all).

A reasonable comparison might be Black Wall Street, but even then discussion about the event isn’t suppressed, just at the time the event was covered up by the local government of the area. But the CCP doesn’t remember the Siege of Changchun either.


Kent State is incredibly famous and covered in the context of the US's wars in Southeast Asia in any US History class. I definitely learned about it in high school. It also isn't actively scrubbed from the internet or other sources of information like Tiananmen square is in China. If you are unaware of Kent State, it isn't due to propaganda or censorship, it is due to your own ignorance.


It is the cover up - not the crime essentially. China shuts down stock markets when they come up with shared dates to Tiananmen Square. The US teaches it in textbooks and acknowledges impacts like radicalizing domestic terrorism groups. If not for premature detonation of an apartment it would have lead to another school massacre of a ROTC in retaliation.


Ya but see, you can post that and we can talk about it.

That's the difference.


Wow, don't know where you got your education, but that's some cheesy argument, it's not even worth wasting time to reason with you.


Serious question: I've got a couple of mainland Chinese acquaintances on my social networks, who are real people but also busily spouting Chinese government propaganda.

As the article says, I don't expect them to change their views overnight, but I would like to plant some seeds of doubt. Any suggestions for links to suitable content? (Ideally accessible from behind the GFW, although most can VPN outside it.) For example, the mainland Chinese government has been painting the HK protests as the work of a tiny terrorist minority, so solidly commented footage of 1M+ peaceful protesters should jar their world view a little.


Actually I was trying to find a simple question, and I came across an example of the same sort of spouting of Chinese government propaganda. Check this out: https://www.quora.com/Are-children-in-China-taught-about-the...

I think it's interesting to ask people who are educated in China what they think about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For instance, what do they think about this photo? https://i.imgur.com/0zAQqAO.png

Though, this line of questioning may be met with hostility. So I suppose you could ask them why they're angry about evidence of a massacre of their own people.


Ask them how they would invest their money if they suddenly became 100x richer, which for most people isn't something they can easily comprehend. If their answers veer towards things like buying property abroad (or similar stuff indicating they don't believe there actually is any rule of law in their own country), then you can ask them why they are not investing in their own country if they truly believe in their views about it.

When asked to put their money where their mouth is, the actions of people speak far, far louder than their words.


Ask them to read many sources. Point out that it costs too much to manipulate many media.

Careful with asking this as you are risking their life and their family/friends: Ask them when they started hearing about the HongKong protests (China initially censored HongKong protests)? Are they aware that HongKong had been seeking democracy and/or independence for a long time even under UK rule? Have they read about Wukan Democracy experiment and Tiananmen Square (Both asked for democracy as a peaceful resolution)? If they do for either, are they aware of the list of demands from protestors (China has been trying to portray the events as destructive people and censor the demands).

All of this is on Wikipedia and many news websites. Which are censored in China for a good reason.


> independence for a long time even under UK rule?

From my understanding, most protesters do not seek independence from China. Do you have evidence to back your sentence up?

It's a common misunderstanding in mainland and rest of the world outside of Hong Kong to assume that the (majority of) people of Hong Kong wants independence when they are protecting about a very specific extradition bill.

Disclaimer: I'm mainland Chinese.


The protestors have defaced CCP liason office with Shina, blame CCP for Carrie Lam being elected, angry about CCP kidnapping book sellers, even the protest against the bill is because it will allow CCP to extradite HongKongers to China, and more.

Unless the government changes in China, China = CCP. If CCP wasn't in power any more, a lot of protestors wouldn't mind HongKong being part of China.

The protestors know if they specifically ask for independence, they will get shot.


There are numerous folks who openly demand a fully independent Hong Kong, one of them actually ran for Legislative Council[0].

I don't think the reason for people not mentioning independence is because they worry about their personal safety.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Leung

edit: full -> fully


Some people are actually asking for independence and they were not getting shot.

That said, I guess it's equally difficult for people to imagine that Chinese government has been very, very generous to the Hong Kong people. But that's generally true from a Chinese' pov. Generous to the point that a lot of mainlanders are actively complaining on online forums.


> Some people are actually asking for independence and they were not getting shot.

That is considered a fairly low bar by Western standards.


This isn't the first set of protests in HK, and they all have a universal thread: Issues with mainland oversight of HK

The extradition bill is just the latest one.

Many protestors have explicitly called for independence. Most are simply demanding things that are not possible with HK as a mainland managed province with the current powers that be in Beijing, and I can't imagine that they don't know this - it's a de facto desire for independence.

If the ROC was magically in charge, then HK probably wouldn't care about being independent.


So, most of the world sees the protests as obviously about freedom, and freedom from Chinese rule.

That you cannot see that... well... who is more likely to be wrong here?

Perhaps you have been incentivized not to learn how to think critically about social and governmental affairs, second and third order effects and consequences?


It's probably not their fault. There was a leaked propaganda document saying to portray HongKong people as violent rioters, censor police brutality and censor mentions of protestors apologizing for disruptions.

Look at Youtube channels like CGTN and Nathan Rich to see what they hear and you'll know what they don't hear.


The protesters have very specific demands, why do we need to guess? If most of the citizens actually demand full independence, I'm sure they will make themselves heard, like what they are doing now.

And who are "most of the world"? Has the world reached a unified conclusion on what the people of Hong Kong want?


Do you think the CCP will ever respect two systems?

How do you think autocratic governments handle corruption compared to democracies?


I like this more than my own answer. Asking them if they understand the motivations of the protesters is an excellent line of questioning.


You don't "jar" people into Learning anything.

That is why the late night comedian brigade and the bombastic news reader class (don't call them journalists) have never managed to change anyone's minds, irrespective of how many years of likes, laughs and claps they get from their own fan clubs. It's true of the left and the right.

Jaring (blaming/shaming/guilt triping) or shaking people up is not a teaching technique that works.

And you have to think of it as Teaching. Good teachers don't just shake people up. They know Learning takes Time, A LOT OF TIME. And different subjects require a deep understanding of how much time. Without a sense of that it easy to screw up the learning process and produce outcomes that don't make sense.

You can throw a baby into water, and some have an anti-drowning reflex, that can trigger some learning (about swimming). But many don't and you end up with dead babies. The tragic Story of misguided teaching practices, doesn't usually end there. Those who don't end up with dead babies, easily fool themselves into thinking that they have some great insight into teaching. And they apply it to other subjects, like throwing babies into metaphorical Tiger cages.

In this particular case involving China, you don't attack/blame/judge your friends or hold them accountable or guilt trip them or shame them. That won't produce any learning. Guaranteed. Expect only defensiveness and counter attacks.

It you really truly want to spark learning you just point at the articles and STOP. No blaming/shaming/guilt tripping/judgement passing/sarcasm/correcting/fact checking/finding logical holes etc. And then give it time. Learning how to handle Tigers takes time. Reset that expectation and watch the seeds planted grow.


I'm not sure how you read all that into my comment. I was simply asking for examples of good articles to send to them.


On the reverse side, is there anything they could send you to change your beliefs?


I've been to Tibet and seen with my own eyes how the Chinese government operates there, so it would be a pretty uphill fight to convince me to believe Chinese state media instead of Western/HK media.

Perhaps that's the key then: send everybody in mainland China to watch an actual protest in Hong Kong...


Politics is an emotional thing. It's unfortunately also a selfish thing. Both aspects must be kept in mind when saying or doing anything if the topic is political or religious. (Or anything else guided by emotion.)

Positive reinforcement works best. Find something that will make them feel good, that also breaks their bad habits. In this case, specially the habit of taking in news sources that lie. This is far more difficult than it sounds.

Negative reinforcement / negative emotions, seems to only work when they agree with it. You can steer someone's thinking this way towards a positive path, but usually negative feelings are to be avoided at all costs. This includes talking about conflicting information.

So, for example, if I was in your situation, it may not be an ideal answer, but I might talk about the fairness doctrine and how much propaganda we have in the US. If they already believe we are biased, this will have a positive emotional response, because the facts are in agreement. The trick with this is talking about how in our news it used to be illegal to lie to people. By talking about the fairness doctrine you plant a seed of how things could be done -- a better way.

This will not change their views, but that seed will slowly grow into something much more months to years from now, because they'll start questioning their own news sources. This happens in part because explaining the fairness doctrine explains one way to guarantee the news is not biased. This is done by giving equal time to opposing views. The seed then becomes, "This news source isn't giving an opposing view along side it." and then it becomes, "Maybe I should look at multiple news sources to get an honest take." Though, usually it will be an acknowledgement of how fucked up it is, without the effort taken to learn the real truth. Either way, that imho is one of the few seeds you can plant that will open people's eyes.


Equally serious question: Why do you want to plant seeds of doubt?

I suspect you are likely to answer something like “because it’s for their own good”, or “because they have a right to the Truth”.

Have you considered that what is good/true for people is heavily dependent on their personal circumstances?

If, after planting those seeds of doubt, your friend or one of their family members suddenly disappears and you never hear from them ever again, what part of the burden will you choose to bear?


The amount of anecdotes of "my Chinese coworker/girlfriend/wife" (never boyfriend/husband) is brainwashed and the savior complexes that arise is intriguing. In general, mainland Chinese nationals / ex-Citizens who work in the west are typically well educated and intelligent. Why is it so hard to believe that they have reconciled both Chinese and Western narratives and arrived at the conclusions that they feel is appropriate having dual perspectives and experiences, i.e. they have broader understanding of the topic than one lens and if overwhelmingly these people are still pro-Chinese positions, then perhaps incorporate that data instead of dismiss it as brainwashing. If seeing your extended families quality of life improve every year and experiencing first hand Chinese tier1 cities and infrastructure eclipsing development in the west is brainwashing, then I hope the West adopt it.


> "If seeing your extended families quality of life improve every year and experiencing first hand Chinese tier1 cities and infrastructure eclipsing development in the west is brainwashing, then I hope the West adopt it."

This is not what the West is criticizing and calling "brain washing". Rather it's locking up critical book publishers and journalists, lying through state sponsored media and doing actual brain washing to millions of muslims. These are all things the West has done too, and we realized that was all bad and not in the least necessary for economic growth, so we created strong constitutions founded in human rights to try to make sure it doesn't happen again.


Share them the document 9 leak:

http://www.chinafile.com/document-9-chinafile-translation

It's a memo that warns of the 7 deadly "Western Values."

Some of the key points in the memo is that the Communist Party is above the law, and that party members should not encourage any form of constitutional governance or separation of power. You as an individual have no right to due process, and so that means if there are powerful party members that do not like you, they have every power to not follow any rules, and so they can kidnap you and torture you and seize assets from you without any form of judicial independence, and because independent media isn't allowed you cannot just reach out toward the public for help. In fact, the Chief Justice of China has said:

"[China's courts] must firmly resist the western idea of “constitutional democracy”, “separation of powers” and “judicial independence”. These are erroneous western notions that threaten the leadership of the ruling Communist Party and defame the Chinese socialist path on the rule of law. We have to raise our flag and show our sword to struggle against such thoughts. We must not fall into the trap of western thoughts and judicial independence. We must stay firm on the Chinese socialist path on the rule of law."[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Qiang]

You see , this is one reason for the Hong Kong protests, in that they do not trust the Communist Party since the party doesn't have to play by the rules.

Explain to your friends that there is a limit to what you can trust in any media, even in the West. You always have to look at who owns in the media, and the majority of the media in Mainland China is controlled by the Communist Party. Hence, you cannot really trust the Mainland Chinese Media would be critical of the party actions/mistakes . In fact from the memo, it says any "historical reassessing" of past party mistakes isn't allowed as it threatens the face of the party. The "Fourth Estate" or "Free flow of information" also threatens the party's position in power. I suggest showing your friend this video on how the party has been constricting the free flow information about the Hong Kong protests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpFE49oo__8 to build this alternate reality of what is happening on the ground.

Lastly, make the point to separate China as a country from the Communist Party itself. Criticizing the party dosen't mean criticizing him/her as a Chinese person.


The thing that many people in the West do not realize is that exposure to Western media actually hardens Chinese perceptions. There are many examples of Chinese students who lived many years in China whose perceptions of their homeland is far different than what they see is being portrayed on CNN/Fox, etc. The reason why this occurs is not that CNN/Fox are factually incorrect but that they tend to focus on sensationalist/negative stories about China.

Therefore it is somewhat naive to think that bringing uncensored information to the Chinese will somehow change their mind. Just look at the inability of people to change pro-China posters in this and many such posts on HN, who presumably have access to uncensored information, and who are often suspected of being "shills" or robots that are part of a Chinese disinformation campaign.


Most news focuses on sensationalist or negative stories about anywhere. Otherwise why would people watch it? It isn’t like 7pm in China when all tv stations are playing news about what uplifting things Xi said today.

PRC Chinese have been conditioned into a certain mindset about news that doesn’t exist anywhere else.


If you like "toy models" of these phenomenon, you will love this paper

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yves_Zenou/publication/...


Disclaimer: I'm mainland Chinese and would like everyone to have universal suffrage.

I've seen repeatedly both from people in mainland and "westerners" to assume the people of Hong Kong want independence from mainland China but this is not true.

The majority of people (protesters) didn't even mention this in their 5 demands[0].

[0]: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/07/14/five-demands-must-fulf...


I'd really worry for HK if the government agrees to all five points.


> They called for a complete withdrawal of the bill, the withdrawal of the “riot” characterisation of the June 12 protests, the unconditional release of all arrested protesters, the formation of an independent commission of inquiry into police behaviour, as well as universal suffrage.

Which of those things would make you worry, and why?


#2 withdrawal of "riot" characterization and #3 unconditional release of all arrested protestors, then by implication #4 independent inquiry into police behaviour.

Because if #2 and #3 come to be, then #4 will surely severely censure the police for firing tear gas, bean bag bullets and rubber bullets, which will demoralize the police, greatly damage their ability to maintain law and order and incentivize rioting as the proper form of making demands going forward. Supposedly Hong Kong's laws/ordinances governing the conduct of independent inquiries contain provisions against self-incrimination, which is possibly another means for rioters and their organizers to safeguard themselves against prosecution by presenting at the independent inquiry. I say "supposedly" because while chapter and verse were quoted, I haven't looked them up myself and IANAL anyway.

The "protestors" are demanding non-negotiable acceptance of all 5 demands.


Exactly as you said. #2 and #3 make the consequence of doing such protest/riot to zero, then #4 punish police force because of they enforcing the law

These would make next protest cost down to zero, and demoralized police hands will be tied to response. This is destroying HK's justice system and legislation system by encouraging solving the interest conflict in the street, because protests could solve the problem can't be solved in the court/Legco, and taking no or minor responsibility. This mobocracy.

Even the gov made compromises under the table, they wouldn't claim they accepted them.

And there is no leader of protesters, which means even 5 demands are accepted, there could be another group demands for next 5. And asking them in the air instead of asking negotiating on the table, non-negotiable acceptance with no trade-off, all these don't look like protester are truly seeking for talk or solution, or they were designed not to do so.


If I had to guess, it is not an inquiry into standard riot police procedure.

2 days ago a video surfaced of two hong kong police officers torturing a 62 year old man: https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout/comments/cstj3u/hong...

Do you not think it is fair for protesters to want to launch an inquiry into this behavior?

> incentivize rioting as the proper form of making demands going forward

what evidence of rioting is there? afaik these protests have been peaceful.


> Do you not think it is fair for protesters to want to launch an inquiry into this behavior?

For the torture case, it is reported that the policemen involved have been arrested. In my view, the case should be dealt with under existing laws. An independent inquiry should be launched if/when there is systemic police abuse.

> Evidence of rioting

Many videos on Youtube. Here's one on last week's airport assault of two mainland Chinese. The two were trapped and tortured for hours and rioters prevented medical/police personnel from getting to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz4-Ld1l7iI

Another video of the airport riot. According to reports, the policeman who drew his pistol had had his testicles smashed when he was being beaten up and he is now in hospital.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpQpwQijRzg

Attacking the Legislature building in July.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO16RnQNZmU

Attacking the Legislature, view from outside.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPU86QO8pUw

In June.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG23TIb-pUo

Randomly attacking a policeman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuCgEAxwevI

Randomly attacking civilian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15gprNFvBiY

It has been like this for weeks.

It's funny (in a sad way) reading in this thread posters confidently labeling others brainwashed when they are the ones being fed a controlled narrative.


None of those links provide any context to why they were started.

> Another video of the airport riot. According to reports, the policeman who drew his pistol had had his testicles smashed when he was being beaten up and he is now in hospital.

https://www.reddit.com/r/China/comments/cputoi/policeman_sta...

See how it was started by the policeman bodyslamming a innocent girl?

I could also cherry pick a bunch of videos showing chinese violence against protesters.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout/comments/clbof6/in_a...

https://amp.news.com.au/national/queensland/hong-kong-protes...

https://www.reddit.com/r/China/comments/coy60g/a_young_femal...


> no context

You asked for evidence of riots. Are you claiming that these scenes don't constitute rioting?

As for context, some of the links I provided are news reports in Cantonese or Mandarin. I suppose you don't understand what the newscasters or the people in the videos are saying?

> bodyslamming a (sic) innocent girl

And there was a bunch of armed people on standby all ready to retaliate? Yup, not the scene of a riot.

> https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout/comments/clbof6/in_a...

You know that the guy punching is Chinese how?

All of them were speaking Cantonese. I speak Cantonese and I understand what they were saying.

> https://www.reddit.com/r/China/comments/coy60g/a_young_femal...

The woman was shot at a _siege_ of a police station and she was in rioters' typical battle gear. The police have not ruled out that they could have shot her, but they are still investigating. The woman has so far refused to come public. If she was indeed shot by the police, you'd imagine that the protest movement would've called press conferences, published hospital reports and all that. So far, nothing.

> https://amp.news.com.au/national/queensland/hong-kong-protes...

I condemn all violence. This subthread is on evidence of rioting in Hong Kong. Yes you can cherry pick videos showing violence carried out by Chinese-looking people. And that's what you have done.

Edit: Wording


So accountability is a non-starter? That is quite telling of why they are protesting in the first place.


Why? None of the demands violate the Joint Declaration or Basic Law.


A similar article by Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, a journalist in Australia: https://www.smh.com.au/national/blinkered-chinese-nationalis...


First time I got an accurate map of India was when I stepped out of it. Whole of Kashmir is shown as Indian territory in all books and newspapers, even the area that is under administration of China and Pakistan. It was quite something. Other aspects opened up too, but the map thing was quite outrageous example. With international media availability, graphics have become better now thankfully.


Can you explain this a little bit? Isn't there a big issue right now between India and Kasmir? You're saying it's actually under the administration of China?

I'm sorry if this sounds naive - I guess I have no idea what's going on in the world.


Start here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir_conflict#/media/File:K...

Yellow: controlled by India, green: controlled by Pakistan, red: controlled by China.


Indian maps show them as having control of all of Kashmir.

In reality, control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan, and China.


Same here after seeing whole of Kashmir as part of India in all the maps for my entire, I couldn’t understand and felt even angry that the west and other countries don’t recognize this.

I now understand how it spurs nationalism and cause misunderstandings.


Haha did they put Karakoram highway on Indian map too?


India doesn't recognize any other countries' control over lands in Kashmir region.


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