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China signals plan to take full control of Hong Kong (greenwichtime.com)
250 points by onetimemanytime 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 265 comments

On Reddit there are some pretty intense videos and other first-hand accounts of democratic-leaning lawmakers in Hong Kong being forcibly removed from government buildings. I’m surprised this isn’t getting more press. But also it’s pretty clear China is doing this now during coronavirus since the world has bigger things to care about at the moment

Some background on why this is happening; The legislature was supposed to elect a new chairman in October last year, pan-democratic lawmakers have been blocking this election by filibustering any meeting that tried to elect a new chairman.

The goal was to block this until the elections in September this year. About a month ago, China spoke out against this, and since then, the legislature has been trying to push this through. Evicted lawmakers tried to physical prevent this from happening, which is why they were removed from the room.

I don't really agree with the actions of both parties, but this is the back story. They weren't just forcefully removed out of nowhere, there were actions that led up to it.

From my understanding, they were filibustering because a pro-china legislator was the former chairwomen of the internal committee (a group that review policies before submitted to vote in general legislature), and for her to be re-elected, she must resign first. Then pro-china party realized their fuck up and caused a whole drama.

According to the rulebook, the vice chairman (pan-democratic) is supposed to hold the meeting till new chair is elected. The democratic legislators saw this as a chance to filibuster because pro-china legislator had an agenda to push for establishing the National Anthem Act. In this case, the filibuster forces the pro-china party into a losing situation.

The resolution was that the pro-china legislators seek "legal advice" from some government legal counselor and directly broke the filibuster by having the general legislature chairman (pro-china) appoint a new "chairman"(who happens to be pro-china) to hold the new election. Of course, this is highly illegal, but it went through anyways. Ultimately, it led to democratic legislator surrounding chairman podium and protesting the illegal filibuster breaking, which resulted in being forcefully removed from the legislature hall.

Yes. This is my understanding too. What's funny is the government's legal opinion is from a UK lawyer about a Chinese interpretation of a HK LegCo rule. What's even crazier: the LegCo "security team" only attack/restrain the Pro-Democracy legislators. There's no hiding their "affiliation".

From what I saw on the videos, they only restrained (they didn’t attack anyone) legislators who physically tried to block the meeting from taking place. In this case it only being pan-democrat.

Feel free to look at the videos yourself and make up your own mind of course.

There is video of attacking legislator by others. In any case the no of legislator should be have been dq by various unlawful mean (one seat finally said it is unfair after nearly 2 years)

The problem is exactly what cause the whole uproar as except for this f procedure nothing can now stop to enact whatever the law they want.

It is either f or ... then mainland start impatient and ignore the whole legislature and just enact their own law.

That is really the end of HONG Kong as far as HONgkonger or foreigner concern.

The security law is not your run of the mill law. It is going to be arbitrary arrest etc.

The HKER will fight but given there is no nominal protection even, there would not be financial centre any more.

I’m unsure about the first past, as far as I understood it, they wanted to prevent the election of a new chairman until the next elections. Mostly because in the current legislature the pan-democrats don’t hold a majority, which is expected to change in September. So they wanted to prevent new laws (like the national anthem law) to be pushed through

The last part is difficult, both sides sought legal advice, both were contradicting each other. Eventually the pro-China side pushed through with their advice, which resulted in clashes and eventually the eviction of pan-democracts.

All in all; it’s an absolute mess, and not expected to get any better. China is already circumventing the HK government by pushing for a national security law. (Which was supposed to be implemented over the past 23 years)

>The last part is difficult, both sides sought legal advice, both were contradicting each other. Eventually the pro-China side pushed through with their advice, which resulted in clashes and eventually the eviction of pan-democracts.

Actually the legal advice from Government ( Which in the past 10-15 years has always been Pro-China ) on the issue was that the Pro-Democrats were right as it was listed very clearly by the rules. That there was no way "reinterpret" it. It was a surprise to the Pro-China party so they sort to external legal advice and suggest or basically completely changed the rule.

Is was at that moment, Hong Kong is officially Rule by Law and not Rule of Law.

And yes that is why the later part was an absolute mess. People were planning to protest about it anyway, but before anything was planned the new security law happened.

I’m aware that the government’s own legal team cited against that move, so they sought external legal advice and pushed through. It’s all very strange, and I’m surprised the courts haven’t been involved yet.

It’s looking like a couple of rough months ahead, the new security law will take into effect, most likely the national anthem law will go through as well.

At best the elections in September give a majority to the pan-dems.

Anyways, totally agree on your last part of the comment. China is for sure showing no patient and will value its political stability over any economic benefit reaped from HK.

In fact, while listening to the press conference of the pro-china party right now on National security law, they just said it: "compared to safety of the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens, stock market drop is insignificant". To me it sounds like that China has dropped the axes, HKers better be quiet.

I'm trying to remain subjective, especially when giving information to other people, but this is just my understanding of what happened. It's really hard to find unbiased information, especially when reading local news.

I am a US citizen who resided in HK for 5 years, until this last December.

I think Hong Kongers' efforts to resist increasing Chinese encroachment, while admirable, are probably futile. They are simply too British. British culture is completely incompatible with any kind of successful resistance against a hostile government. They are too scared of weapons and (justified, defensive) violence to make Chinese occupation unviable. The absolute most extreme behavior we saw from protestors was thrown bricks and the occasional molotov cocktail. Almost none of the destruction was targeted at Chinese government facilities in HK - instead they went after easy HK-controlled targets like road equipment and the airport. This is not a winning strategy.

Yes, what’s happening on the street (the protests) and in the legislative council (the voting) may not be enough to resist China, but Hong Kong people recently are doing more, which is what prompted the harsh response from China, including the proposed changes outlined in this news article.

Hong Kong people realized that they could “vote” (express their opinions) by choosing what businesses they support: they could support businesses who support the protest. This economic circle [1] eventually could resist the control from China.

This could be substantial when Chinese economy is not looking good, and when some businesses care about overseas market (think of the trade tariffs and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019).

[1]: https://thediplomat.com/2020/05/how-the-yellow-economic-circ...

Non violent, persistent, civil disobedience has worked in modern history.

It just takes serious dedication, but the current world has a lot more tools in place to broadcast the narrative.

Those Hong Kong protests can never stop.

It won't work against a totalitarian government.

If the totalitarian government could survive a large scale joblessness or recession, comparable to the one US might be experiencing now.

Democratic regime may survive bad economic times by transitioning of power if needed, but less so for a totalitarian government.

Especially CCP got a lot of its legitimacy from the perceived fast economic growth, it will be problematic if their growth engine halts.

> Non violent, persistent, civil disobedience has worked in modern history.

Against the British empire in places that Britain didn't actually make much money anymore.

In America with Civil Rights also.

Because America is a Democracy. Non violent protests changed people's minds and those people ultimately decide the laws. Won't work in China. China is totalitarian. The government gets what it wants regardless of public opinion. And it will squash any opinion it doesn't like before it spreads.

That worked because the federal government had guns and Civil Rights had widespread support in much of the rest of the country.

History is probably full of deaths of nonviolent (and violent) resisters.

Not against the CCP. Tank man was allegedy executed by firing squad two weeks after the event.

Allegedly, though. If protest didn't matter at all, it wouldn't be merely alleged; the CCP would just publicly say "yeah we shot him and we'll shoot you next if you bug us about it".

Non violent actions such as strikes brought us many human rights improvements such as 40 hour week and safety and health regulations. Many societies reformed after their citizens striked extensively. I'm curious why there's no sweeping strikes in Hong Kong yet?

Can you provide an example of a time peaceful strikes worked against a well-organized, massive, and authoritarian government like the CCP? I don't think comparing wins in civil rights in Western democracies is a good basis for policy here.

Well... I can think of two:

Korean protests in 1987 (against a military strongman)


Carnation Revolution in Portugal 1974 (against dictatorship)


Solidarity, leading the way to the Polish revolution of 1989 and ultimately the restoration of democracy to the Warsaw Pact?

That's an interesting one, but mostly because it's tied to the collapse of the Soviet Union at the same time. China is not anywhere near the same state of affairs. Poland was also a relatively small economy and war power.

That is the best way of achieving long lasted change - solidarity mentioned.

However China is different cup of tea. They don't care about image as they can suppress and buy PR - Tibet.

They massacred their own youth, organized mass organ thief etc. They have different approach to (de)valuing human life.

I am afraid that HK is under a CPR steamroller slowly crushing the resistance.

> They don't care about image as they can suppress and buy PR - Tibet.

Yes and no. China is almost crazily touchy about their image. They claim that it's an insult to their nation if anyone admits that Taiwan exists as a separate entity. You can't even mention Winnie the Pooh in China, because some people use it as a derisive label for Chairman Xi. (Imagine having the NSA notice every on-line mention of "Orange Man", and ordering the hosting site to remove it.)

Now, they may not care about their image as much as they care about suppressing Hong Kong. But the rest of the world can make them pay a price in terms of image - a price that China seems to find rather painful.

Their concern for their image isn't egoism, it's propoganda. With Taiwan for instance, if you get everyone to agree for long enough that Taiwan does not exist internationally, Noone will care when you roll in and squash it.

Just for info sake. Only memes with Xi and Winnie are banned. Literally the first thing I saw in China were Winnie the Pooh images in Hainan airport toilet.

Maybe they throw a hissy fit at the mention of Taiwan, but do they give a shit, really?

The non violence movement in India against Imperial Britain? You can argue the particularity of every historical event but to me striking is one of the immediately reachable weapon against CCP that is not employed. With the same logic we can say protesting is not effective against CCP yet ppl still do it?

Imperial Britain is still not China of today. There are some cultures that will simply read your nonviolence as weakness and stomp over you.

Our modern tendency to compete on who can most hyperbolically denounce Western Imperialism strips us of any ability to calibrate between cultures. Do you know what Imperial Rome would have done to the nonviolent Indian revolt? They'd have executed it at its infancy and it would be a historical footnote. They wouldn't have even waited for it to become a big movement; the death penalty would have been used early and often. To some degree, even as entertainment.

My read on China is closer to first-century Rome than 20th century Britain. YMMV.

And a single city with guns would be able to topple Rome with modern weaponry?

To be clear, neither I or you are certain what the majority of HKers want to trade for democracy. Realistically if they want democracy so bad, what else they can do other than the protesting they are doing? Long term striking seems to be something they can do TODAY, RIGHT NOW. Equiped with weapons or not, one of the bet they have to make is that the international community would not sit idlely while many HKers get killed.

"And a single city with guns would be able to topple Rome with modern weaponry?"

I don't know how that's relevant to anything I said. My point is about culture. Nonviolent protest requires you to be protesting an amenable authority. There have been plenty of examples in history of authorities that will just spill as much blood as it takes. To my eye, the only constraint on China doing that is their fear that people might stop paying into their economy.

Bear in mind that if China decided to roll into Hong Kong and simply kill everybody there, it would only increase the current Chinese government's death toll against their own people by somewhere between 16% to 40%. It wouldn't even double it! This is the government that brought you the "Great Leap Forward" in which they killed 18-45 million of their own people. This is a government being credibly accused of engaging in ethnic cleansing.

Are you sure advising "nonviolent protest" against that is a good idea?

"one of the bet they have to make is that the international community would not sit idlely while many HKers get killed."

That is not something I'd advise anyone to bet their lives on.

I thought it was relevant because my initial reply was to someone saying

>They are too scared of weapons and (justified, defensive) violence to make Chinese occupation unviable.

To that end I felt striking is probably a better option to try before more violent forms of fighting get involved. Maybe nonviolent protest is not a good idea, but it's probably not a worse idea than violent ones.

>That is not something I'd advise anyone to bet their lives on.

Say without international community support, is there any winning strategy you can think of?

I personally think once the confrontation becomes more heated, at least a dozen western countries would allow HKers to immigrate to their countries, which doesn't require too much resources to do? One example is last year Sweden has already started granting China's Uighurs refugee status.

They did. For 6 months since last June at least, every single day.

not long term striking. most protesters are students.

Guys; We do not 2m students. It is not 2015. It is the whole Hk.

We are trying our best to find a way. The recent approach is not to do any business with anyone who is Communist blue. (Well, the Communist control many things and this strategy should not work. But it hurts a bit. ) Strike is hard but we will see.

For so call violence, there is a lot of police violence and they have used this to suppress the protest, down to even sing a song in mall.

Tomorrow we will try. But how many will suffer from police we do not know.

Democracy and human rights is core to our belief. We will fight even as said here not very hopeful. Fighting a communist state with resources like that ...

It is not because we have hope we persist but by persistence we might have hope. One of our belief as well.

How often do violent uprisings turn out well? A thorough reading of history shows that they aren’t very effective, either.

A thorough reading of history shows that violent uprisings are de facto _what_ is effective, and certainly in post-industrial modern times. Empires cede control of territory when they become too expensive to maintain. Usually, that is in terms of violence, which threatens mercantile stability and integrability.

Unfortunately, the violence and instability that often accompanies secession doesn't always end up resulting in prosperity after independence. That is because violent or not, uprisings do not necessarily upset the power balance between the colonizer and the colonized. Some say the alphabet agencies that form the worldwide practice of SIGINT operate on this inertia -- well, I don't want to speculate about what I don't know about, but I think that at least my own country's declassified documents are telling. The USA has had a hand in kingmaking much of LatAm and the Middle East. Historically, I think this kind of proxying only ends when the empire itself shrivels.

There have been many successful insurrections, but have you truly taken into consideration all of the failed ones?

We obviously can’t make a long list here, but here is one that might be relevant to think about:


As it pertains to statecraft, what is the point of bringing up "insurrections"? It just seems like a pedantic red herring to avoid discussing war. Insurrections are either aborted attempts to start wars and brutally suppressed, or they become protracted wars, which folds into the empire cost benefit analysis I pointed to. When it comes to wars, I think that territory, violence, the threat of it, and its costs are the attendant free variables in which decisions are made.

Worked in the US and France as I recall.

The US is a great example to consider: compare the odds of success of a violent secessionist movement in Hong Kong to those of the Confederacy winning the Civil War.

Or perhaps a French example might be more relevant, with a single city at stake: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune

Revolutionary war. Not civil war.

Talking about a different war dude. History didn't start in 1860.

Sorry I wasn’t clear about what I was trying to say. My argument was that most violent independence movements aren’t successful, an example of which was the Civil War, which was also called the “War for Southern Independence” by the rebels. Having a revolution sounds great if you expect it to turn out like 1776, but the majority of the time it doesn’t work out that way.

Strikes can also have the opposite effect; like Bacon's rebellion which ushered in an era of racial tensions that are felt to this day [1].


> British culture is completely incompatible with any kind of successful resistance against a hostile government.


I mean, do you count the Revolution? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution

The American revolution would be like some Chinese colonists refusing to pay back infra debt in Africa. And the US would have to have the guts to send some Rochambeaus and Lafayettes to the Chinese colonies.

Kinda a stretch comparison. But I would like it in doing so the US got mad broke and then we had a real revolution.

> They are simply too British.

It worked for the Americans somehow.

edit: and for that matter, it almost worked for cromwell.

Love the Cromwell reference! And your main response is on-point, as well.

However, when I read that Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said "This is a complete and total surprise and I think it means the end of one country, two systems" [my emphasis], I hope he is saying this rhetorically, rather than as an expression of being blindsided by the turn of events.

Kind of a weird take. What does being British have to do with being able to successfully protest?

To be fair I don't think they have a winning strategy available, so they're making the strongest move they can.

Armed insurrection of the type you're describing would just bring the PLA jackboots down on Hong Kong, and the rebels will join the Uyghurs in the camps. Sure there'd be some international backlash, but between backlash and losing Hong Kong, the CCP will choose the backlash. It's an existential issue for them.

The only way armed insurrection works is by creating a situation painful enough that, over time (years or decades), the leadership of the occupying force starts asking if the cost is worth it. The current CCP will always answer yes to that question.

I think US people are incredibly naive in thinking that they are going to oppose government military action with their personal guns. It won't work, the only difference will be many more dead.

This is an amazingly ignorant viewpoint, and I'd bet the farmers in Vietnam of the 1960's and Afghanistan of the 2000's would likely care to differ. Insurgencies undermine the advantages of expensive weaponry.

And if we're talking about a civil war or insurgency within US borders: An army fighting on its own soil and against its own citizens is surrounded on all sides and can't maintain secure supply lines.

You can look up US military projections about the feasibility of engaging in guerrilla combat against even regional armed resistance in the US. The prognosis is not good (for the military). This should be obvious to anyone who's paid attention to the relatively poorly equipped VC or Taliban.

I’m curious now, how is having 1 gun per citizen not some sort of barrier to hostile takeover/occupation?

To an American, that sounds completely clueless. The soldier is likely a neighbor (who isn't going to shoot); there's no way to isolate part of the country from any other part (excellent secondary roads); they're outnumbered 1000 to 1 in any case.

Neighbours already shoot each other over politics in the US. As these things always happen, it would be a corrupt government plus a significant part of the population that supports the corrupt government.

That just leaves the last two items.

And many of the opponents are ex-military, with tactical knowledge and skills.

Well, many more dead (on both sides) is the point.

Grim but true. It's the nuclear option: force the government to order their soldiers to go to war against the citizenry.

US military are at the mercy of their population. Think Nazi Germans with their superweapons vs punny Russians. Germans east front were utterly destroyed that it was preferably to surrender to West as fast as possible even though it came at a huge toll on Russians side. American military at most top to 1-2 millions which is only about 1-2% of their population. Whatever weapons that US military got, they can be easily commandeered by the population should it turn evil like Nazi. A lot of ex-veterans including ex-special forces are part of population who are very well verse with military tactics. Unfortunately this is uncommon in Europe or Asia side. If you reside in this places, then you pretty much have not seen some US private citizen collections that can rival 3rd world armies. Remember USA was beaten by Vietnamese. What makes you think their own citizens can't keep them in check? The parents who their children are military are part of population too. These are what most governments are scared of and ban weapons. The intention for these governments are never for the safety of their population but their own. USA people are way more smarter than most people giving credit for. They known this concept by inventing a written document that guarantees 1st and 2nd. Even UK dares not to do this even though most early Americans originate from there.

Why not? It worked in Vietnam, it worked in Afghanistan.

Guns work. "Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun", said Mao.

It worked in the US, even without shooting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundy_standoff)

(independent of whether you think the Bundys were in the right, the fact is, armed ranchers did deter armed BLM intervention, basically indefinitely)

Undoubtedly, the main reason Gandhi failed to achieve any substantial strides toward Indian independence was because he was too hesitant to deploy real guns and firepower.

(Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on British/Indian/Chinese history/politics.)

As far as I know, Gandhi's strategy worked because the British public eventually couldn't take it anymore that their military was gunning down peaceful protesters.

That's where the analogy fails: Given the circumstances, I don't see the mainland Chinese public standing up for HK's rights any time soon.

I think it was not only the British public, but also their international peers. The presence of international reporters put a lot of pressure on Britain.

By the same token, the HK protesters' strongest asset is the international perception that they are passionate but peaceful protests, and it's why China is so eager to label them as riots. If they were to employ significant violence - say, start shooting cops - it gives China infinite license to crack down with disproportionate power. And they have that power available (see the convoys of military trucks that they moved to the border, enough to stretch beyond the horizon).

That's why China's strongest strategy is to infiltrate the protesters and provoke violence, or just dress up soldiers as protesters and blow up some replaceable infrastructure and blame them for it. Then roll in the army in uniform in response, lock the city down, and remove anyone who causes trouble, in the name of public safety.

Having widespread armaments throughout HK does not play in the favour of the public here. It makes that violence much easier to provoke, and legitimizes any response. China isn't afraid to lose soldiers and cops to bullets, they're afraid of looking like the bad guys (the optics of another Tienanmen square).

ezVoodoo 13 days ago [flagged]

Scared of weapon and violence? LMAO. How does it feel to be a liar? Tell us the videos here show no violence.


And they don't hesitate to beat up a girl either.


This comment breaks the site guidelines. Would you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules when posting here?

Interesting that a slightly reworded version of the same article is also currently on the Washington Post home page.


The headlines are different as well:

China signals plan to take full control of Hong Kong


China to impose sweeping national security law in Hong Kong, bypassing city’s legislature

Hey, you know, gotta keep that a Chinese market open for when WaPo expands into the mainland.

I don’t like click-baity headlines, but it has it’s uses judiciously. This is an issue the general public can easily ignore or not understand, so in this case you need a more provocative headline to emphasize the magnitude of the implications.

‘US arms funding Saudi led destruction of Yemen, thousands dead’


‘New Saudi-US arms deal, possibly being used in conflict in Yemen’

The Washington Post article was originally titled the same, but they edited it in the last three hours.

I remember reading a book years ago where news would switch and rewrite stories and headlines every day.

1984, George Orwell?

> Interesting that a slightly reworded version of the same article is also currently on the Washington Post home page.

The byline of the linked article is: "Anna Fifield and Shibani Mahtani, The Washington Post"

Yeah that was how I discovered it. I think it's commonly accepted for other papers to run stories this way as long as they're attributed, but I just wonder when and by whom the edits to the body and headline were made by.

You can also read the same story in the South China Morning Post if you want to see a different angle:


Two Sessions 2020: Beijing will announce resolution for national security legislation for Hong Kong to proscribe secession, foreign interference and terrorism

WaPo seems to sugar coat it? Of all the headlines to not sensationalize this seems like an easy one to take advantage of.

They've been able to get away with whatever they wanted in Xinjiang because it has no bearing on their economy. But HK has ties to the west, and enough people old enough to remember something resembling liberal government.

HK's only play at this point seems to be the Northern Ireland strategy--be as ungovernable as possible, and rely on China having a bit of shame. I don't see that working, though--the UK in Northern Ireland had a reputation to maintain. I fear that turning HK into a prison camp would do to China's reputation exactly what they want it to do.

> the UK in Northern Ireland had a reputation to maintain

Evidently not much of a reputation. In this conflict alone, the British state (army and police) shot and killed unarmed protesters, supported paramilitary groups in extrajudicial assassinations (including an attempt on a sitting British politician), indefinitely interned people with no evidence, looked the other way from attacks they could stop (and at least on one occasion even explicitly chose a random civilian to kill instead) if it would protect a source, pursued a strategy for a while of force-feeding certain dissidents, and even made it a crime to display certain flags.

There were massive protests against British rule over the years too. Somehow viewing a colonial government as resembling a liberal government, seems rather incongruent to people who still have a living memory of British colonial rule across the world.

Any way the one country two systems was set to expire in 2047.

The only viable strategy for individuals is to move out of HK to Taiwan.

Taiwan has a different spoken language and culture than Hong Kong. If I were going to move away from Hong Kong I'd prefer an international, primarily English speaking city like London or Toronto.

Wouldn't be so sure about it, having lived in Taiwan for many years, a lot of my friends there people leaving HK and setting up a new base in Taiwan. The writing is similar (both HK and Taiwan are far from China's simplified Chinese), the spoken language has a lot of commonalities (bunch of dialects in Taiwan that are closer), and the culture & mindset is very close. Not totally a surprise as Taiwan has a lot of dissidents who left China in earlier conflicts, for quite a while back.

So yeah, from personal experience, Hongkongers fit right in coming to Taiwan.

Agreed. From what I've seen, Taiwanese people are very welcoming of Hongkongers especially in the current political climate. An example would be that of Lam Wing-kee.[1]

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52425350

Yes and no on the language argument. Written Chinese, sure, but Taiwan's Fuzhou/Hokchew-based dialects are far from the Cantonese of HK and neighboring Guangdong/_Canton_. These dialects branched apart very early, about 2000 years ago, and saying they are more similar vs mandarin is kind of like saying that French and Spanish are much closer than French and Italian because Basque is closer to French than standard Italian. Most commonalities in pronunciation are due to both dialects preserving some older Chinese pronunciations, but overall pronunciation and vernacular word choice are very, very different.

While I agree most in Hong Kong would probably prefer to move to other large cities like Vancouver or Sydney, it's not due to language. Having lived in both for many years, most folks in Hong Kong wouldn't have any language trouble in Taiwan, at least not up north towards Taipei.


Nonsense. HKers and TW people welcome each other with open arms.

Well the risk here is that Hong Kong is merely the beginning and based on how the world reacts will determine their action towards Taiwan. They likely will wait till the next US election to take stronger action in either case. They pretty much tipped their hand with mock invasions of Taiwan, can you imagine the international uproar if the US did the same with North Korea?

[Removed: wild theory about pandemic being cause of world wars]

The historical record strongly indicates that people didn't care that much about the 1918 pandemic after it was over. It's not like history was poorly recorded in the 20th century; if people were fighting wars or implementing policies because the public was still angry about the pandemic, that would have been reported in the daily news.

You seem to have your dates mixed up... The 1918 pandemic is largely accepted as being exacerbated by the end of WW1.

WW1 ended in 1918. You could theorize that maybe the pandemic made peace.

I think from a business perspective TW is definitely the rise but the real move is towards Singapore.

An anecdotal data point ...

We (rsync.net) established Hong Kong as our Asian POP in 2009 for a variety of high-minded, conscientious reasons. I wanted to cast the firms dollar-votes for open, democratic societies and further the establishment of Hong Kong as a business and network hub ... obviously a very small impact but that was the idea.

I am now seriously considering moving our operations out of Hong Kong and Singapore is an obvious candidate for the move. The trouble is, Singapore is not exactly a paragon of free and open society. Australia makes some sense in terms of Internet topology but I'm not sure it's a fit, either.

I'm upset about this because I love Hong Kong. I think it's the most interesting city in the world and I love being there.

The Lee's family is like another CCP, just that they can speak English, went to elite west university, and used economic prosperity as an excuse to push down on dissident or threaten to their power. Singapore is somewhat suppressed and not necessarily free. I agree that Singapore is still most favorable, but there are considerable factors to not move out there.

And then the same thing will happen 10-20 years after it happens to HongKong. Probably better just to live in HK, not like China is gone genocide the population.

Point of fact, colonization by the British wasn't exactly 'liberal government'. Anywhere. In HK's case, they only got their limited democracy in the last couple years immediately before handover to China. The 150 years prior, not so much.

Back in the 1980s, while Thatcher and Reagan were preaching about freedom, british-ruled HK had less freedom than they do now under the bad guy commies.

EDIT: This is not to cheerlead a regression of rights in HK. I'm just saying that being an imperial subject, being brutally put down every few decades when revolting, that's not some liberal utopia.

Note that Beijing limited Hong Kong’s democracy since the 60s, threatening invasion.

See the following articles for the historical context [1][2]:

"Even in the '60s and '70s, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London attempted to introduce democracy and free elections only to be told by Beijing, including by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, that under no circumstances would [China] tolerate a democratically elected Hong Kong because they saw that as the first step toward independence," she said. [1]

"These documents … show that not only were the Brits mulling granting Hong Kong self-governance in the 1950s; it was the Chinese government under Mao Zedong who quashed these plans, threatening invasion." [2]

[1]: https://asiasociety.org/new-york/why-didnt-britain-democrati...

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

Also note that if they do this, China will be in official violation of the Sino–British Joint Declaration of 1984.

Meaning Hong Kong would technically no longer be part of China, and would revert to British sovereignty.

Meaning, if they pass this law and take over defense/security in HK, they are essentially violating the Hong Kong Basic Law (Constitution) and invading what would then be (through their actions) a foreign country.

Defer to international lawyers on the technicalities, but that's how I've seen this read.


As an academic exercise of what if the Sino–British Joint Declaration of 1984 is revoked, one alternative possibility to for Hong Kong to join Taiwan (quoting my earlier comment):

Note that Hong Kong was given to the Britain by three treaties in the 19th century (1842 Treaty of Nanking, 1860 Convention of Peking, 1898 The Second Convention of Peking), and the true copies of all treaties are in the hand of Taiwan, which were brought to Taiwan by the KMT government during its retreat to Taiwan before 1950.

So if the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the declaration behind the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, is revoked (partly because CCP declares it invalid), Britain might declare that Hong Kong should return to the holder of the three treaties–Taiwan.

Extremely unlikely, but arguably has legal justification.

How does this work? If a dude flies to Jamaica with these papers then Jamaica can own HK? Are those, like, bearer shares?

The Britain signed the treaties with the Qing government (the last dynasty in China until 1912), and the bearer shares of the treaties were brought to Taiwan by the KMT government before 1950.

So the issue is: who represents China? The government in Beijing or the government in Taipei?

Later, Britain signed the Sino–British Joint Declaration of 1984 with Beijing to decide the (then) future of Hong Kong. If the Sino–British Joint Declaration is revoked, things could be different.

Just recently US is asking the Beijing government to repay the debt of Qing dynasty [1], which Beijing said would be the responsibility of Taiwan. Following this logic, receiving Hong Kong from Britain could also be the responsibility of Taiwan.

[1]: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-29/trump-s-n...

That article is amazing. I figured Trump was just shit stirring, I should have known he'd have a relationship with people who've been trading in that debt.

Since 2001! There's a century of this debt getting rolled over to greater fools.

The Taiwan still claim mainland and they are at civil war still. Well, Hk technically belong to Taiwan.

Having said that one must note Taiwan has a law in the pipeline (1st reading) to give up The claim of mainland. You may be surprise Of communist china Actual objection To it But not HKER or Taiwanese. In any case Even if they keep the claim This path is Only valid In theory but frankly not in Practice.

Personally i will continue our fight. Taiwan has enough of their own problems. If they can free from mainland, That is great already.

"they are essentially violating the Hong Kong Basic Law (Constitution) and invading what would then be (through their actions) a foreign country."

Sure. In that case, it would revert to British sovereignty, Britain wouldn't lift a finger to defend it, and it would go to China anyhow by right of conquest.

Treaties are nifty and all, but ultimately, no matter what pieces of paper are signed, you can't hold territory you have no intention to defend.

Maybe Britain wouldn’t lift a finger but Trump would lift a pen.

Gives legal pretext for any tariffs or sanctions you want, meaning we are at the beginning of these issues not the end...

A violation or complete destruction of the Joint Declaration does not result in HK returning to Britain because the territory has already been handed over. The consequences aren't really defined and would probably just be sanctions by any nations who happen to care enough.

The issue was not democracy, but rather independence of Hong Kong. China did not recognize the legitimacy of Britain's rule over Hong Kong, and considered it part of China. Any move to establish Hong Kong as an independent state would undermine China's claim to the territory.

The UK was actually in charge of HK, not Beijing.

If Beijing were able to control the fate of Hong Kong in the 1950s, they would have, and it wouldn't have been "leave it in british hands, sure, as long as there's no democracy".

I've never understood this line of thought. Things used to be bad, and it sucked. Then, they got better and that was good. But now if it gets bad again it'll be okay because it used to be bad? Regression away from freedom is always a bad thing.

I didn't say regression was ok, maybe I should have preempted such an accusation since I was criticizing the West.

I pushed back against imperialism dressed up as liberation. Everybody's soooo concerned about Hong Kong civil rights, just like they were about Iraqi civil rights.

Other places, where it's not to our geopolitical advantage? Crickets.

Yes, it would have been better if British imperialists had never decided to stick their swords where they didn't belong, but they did. Whether HK would have been freer today if Britain hadn't done so is conjecture. What we do know is that Britain violently subjugated HK, but before they left they liberalized the place to a greater degree than the CCP would have, as evidenced by the CCP's desire to deliberalize the place.

Bringing up "British rule was no panacea" when we're talking about the CCP's efforts to deliberalize a de facto free society reads like you're apologizing for what the CCP wants to do.

>What we do know is that Britain violently subjugated HK, but before they left they liberalized the place to a greater degree than the CCP would have...

Funny how Britain was happy to rule over Hong Kong for centuries without introducing democratic reform and then suddenly 'liberalised' things only when they were on the point of handing HK back to China. Almost as if it was done with precisely the intent of leaving the Chinese with as much of a hot potato as possible.

They don't call it "Perfidious Albion" for nothing!

> Funny how Britain was happy to rule over Hong Kong for centuries...

Britain first raised its flag over Hong Kong island in 1842. The New Territories, without which Hong Kong is not a viable independent entity, were leased to Britain under a 99-year lease in 1898.

This was a consequence of one of the worst aspects of colonial Britain, the Opium wars, but, as hker points out [1], since the 1960s Britain has attempted to democratize Hong Kong, but was constrained by China's realistic threat of invasion.

There's not much credit to any side here, but let's at least get the history right.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23260302

Agree on the part about China threatening since the 60s. If I recall correctly, there was a wave of movement on British Colonies raising referendum on independence from Britain since the 60s ? Hong Kong did not earn that right due to Communist China's threat on "liberating" Hong Kong if it was given independence.

Can you cite any documentary evidence for these Chinese threats, dating back to the 1960s?

I'm not saying you're wrong but China in the 1960s was an unindustrialised, agrarian 3rd-world country which was barely able to feed its own people. I suspect Britain [a rich, industrialised, nuclear-armed member of NATO] would have laughed in their face, if China had issued any threats.

We shouldn't fall into the trap of looking at the might & modernity of China today and thinking t'was ever thus. I'm old enough to remember when news footage from China would show countless thousands of people, clad in denim boiler suits, riding bicycles through Peking, with nary a car to be seen.

[ASIDE: Ironic that moving towards vehicle-free cities with a cycling populace is now seen as aspirational and a sign of progress whereas, back then, it was an indicator of how backward China was]

Go to the post I linked to for more evidence.

Furthermore, remember that it was China's intervention in Korea in the early 1950s that almost overran the US forces in Korea, and forced a negotiated settlement with the creation of two Koreas.

NATO is irrelevant, as that was an alliance for the defence of Western Europe, not small remnants of Britain's colonies. NATO was not about to go to war with China then, any more than it involved itself in Korea.

And what would Britain do with its nukes? Nothing more than the US did in Korea and Viet Nam. If Britain were to even threaten their use, it would seriously damage its relationship with the USA, by creating a precedent that the USSR (and, by 1964, a nuclear China) could invoke at any time. Remember what happened over Suez, which did not even go as far as a nuclear threat.

Even if Britain halted an initial invasion, China would still be there, on the border of Hong Kong, for as long as the British could afford to stay (or until 1997, if it came to that, which it would not.)

None of this analysis is dependent on "looking at the might & modernity of China today and thinking t'was ever thus."



In the 60s/70s China was in bad terms with Soviet, US/UK saw the benefit of having China as "Allies". Thus, HK kind of became the scapegoat.

Finally, someone gets it.

I was responding to a comment that characterized British rule as 'liberal government'.

If we're so much better, maybe we can let up on the propaganda and whitewashing of history?

But it was liberal, except when it wasn’t. It’s not whitewashing to characterize the end result as liberal, and I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to add a disclaimer to every description when the discussion revolves around comparing today’s liberalism (which was a result of British rule) with the CCP’s (which would undoubtedly be less so).

(Edited to specify that the end result was liberal, not the whole thing)

Yeah, that is the thing, western mindset does not comprehend imperialism.

I can comprehend imperialism just fine, thanks. In fact I get to see my government do it even today, despite my literal protest.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but deep respect for you personally since I don't know you. I was talking about more broad western mindset.

Have you considered that China had vocally threatened military action against democratisation.

What are some examples of British-ruled HK citizens having less freedom than today’s PRC citizens?

From my limited knowledge, the government of Hong Kong was quite liberal, which created its large economic inequality, low literacy rate, and high spot in the freedom index today. Many would argue it was too liberal in some senses.

It maybe was not democratic, but its pretty hard to complain about your rulers if they transformed a poor small town into one of the richest places in the world, with pretty much every freedom of a comparable western democracy arguable in many aspects more free.

Exactly how were the people not free, in the 1980s?

Do you think its impossible to have freedom without local democracy?

That's actually how a lot of mainland Chinese feel about their government, and I can sympathize with them to an extent.

But it doesn't undo other things about their government, it's just a fuller picture. Same applies to UK colonialism.

Sure, I'm not saying it's "free and fair elections", but it had a functioning, western-style court system, a level of free speech recognizable to any part of the west, things like that.

And given that the UK itself has most of these things, I highly doubt they'd arbitrarily deny them to a dependent territory without good reason (especially when their other territories all have some measure of representative government). Other comments describing Chinese threats provide one possible good reason.

> And given that the UK itself has most of these things, I highly doubt they'd arbitrarily deny them to a dependent territory without good reason (especially when their other territories all have some measure of representative government).

Setting aside HK, we apparently have very different reads on how the British Empire acted everywhere else, as well.

Apples to apples--I'm comparing Hong Kong in 1995 to the rest of the mostly-self-governing British territories in 1995. I'm not comparing them to India in the 1940s (as the most obvious example of the Brits' abuse of other peoples they ruled).

Companies with significant ties to the US financial system and interests in Hong Kong need to start planning for the contingency that Hong Kong loses its special status under US law that treats it differently from mainland China.

They did. And as far as I know they will be very busy for the weekend.

The other day when HK leaders were dragged out of the legislative building was surreal. It's something that I would have thought would only be seen by a dictator in the developing world, not in one of the most advanced cities in the world. It only adds to the adage that freedom must be continually fought for.

> It's something that I would have thought would only be seen by a dictator in the developing world, not in one of the most advanced cities in the world.

People said the exact same thing about the Holocaust. How could such a modern, enlightened country like Germany kill six million Jewish people?

We like to believe that the trappings of modern society are an innoculation against tyranny, but they are not and have never been.

Good time to do it since everyone is focused on covid.

More than that, Xi has been ginning up Chinese nationalist sentiment for months now as a way of distracting the Chinese populace from the economic hit they've taken/a supposed reason for their suffering. Hence all the conspiracy theories about COVID being starting by the US Army and such.

If they're going to start projecting that nationalist sentiment outward, Hong Kong is low-hanging fruit.

Weren't they signalling that this whole time? Weren't the civilized people of Hong Kong out in the streets by the millions protesting for sovereignty most of last year?

Anyway, It's amazing how much wealth and prosperity they're willing to erase for the control. Hong Kong's actual functioning legal system was a huge part of why it was the conduit to China for civilized nations; now what is there?

Who is next? Taiwan?

The PRC is playing the long game. Decades from now, they'll take the ROC without firing a shot. It will be through economic integration leading to a vote.

I know plenty of businesses in Taiwan that set up factories right across the way in Xiamen. It's been well underway for the past 20 years.

Mainland China is already Taiwan's largest trading partner by a big margin (followed by the US at second place). A lot of Taiwanese migrate to Mainland for better jobs.

I am more curious what would happen, if say 50% of Taiwanese agree to some sort of reunification with Mainland through a referendum? How would the US react especially given the amount of US military resources and other strategic interests in Taiwan?

The US's interest in Taiwan is part of a divide and conquer strategy. Nothing less, nothing more.

The current political regime in mainland China is actually the best thing for the US and a transition to democracy would be bad because that would make reunification more likely, at least possible, and it would take away much of the arguments the US use against China.

If the nationalists had defeated the communists and the mainland and Taiwan had remained united, I doubt that the tensions between China and the US would be less than they currently are, for example, because these tensions are not caused by the political regime in Beijing, they are much more profound.

In any case, the US cannot realistically intervene militarily directly against China whatever happens.

That’s pretty silly and unfounded. The US is happy to trade with Europe, which is overall more economically powerful than the US but is democratic.

Europe isn't a country. The US would strongly oppose political unification of Europe, if such a thing were ever in the cards.

The US is happy to trade with China. Nothing to do with my 'silly' point, which is about geopolitics and the deeper causes of tensions.

> If the nationalists had defeated the communists and the mainland and Taiwan had remained united, I doubt that the tensions between China and the US would be less than they currently are.

I disagree, and this is a fun thought experiment.

1. The relationship would be a hybrid of the relationships that the US has with both Japan / South Korea and India. - China would be a friendly enough, export focused economy that's too large to be bullied by the US - It would historically have been a Cold War ally, giving it a larger edge over India

2. The West would have access to China's economy.

3. There would be less uncertainty about laws, helping the business climate.

4. Silicon Valley's crown would have been usurped 10 years ago or even far earlier. Why? Because China would have more personal freedoms and protections like with speech. Freedom of speech is instrumental to places like Silicon Valley where creativity is vital. Things like the adoption of the Internet would have been far earlier.

5. HK would have long been a shadow of itself. Shanghai would have taken its place far sooner.

6. While corruption would still be bad, it would be much better than present circumstances due to a free press and more transparency.

7. Tensions with Japan would be worse, due to freedom of speech and much earlier economic and technological rivalry

8. Chinese global economic influence and dominance would be much greater and would have happened much faster and earlier.

9. Chinese media such as TV shows and movies would be way more interesting instead of the boring period pieces or variety shows they keep cranking out today.

10. The male to female ratio would be almost equal due to more civil rights for women which leads to more economic opportunities for females

We could go on what China could have been... the Asian equivalent of the US. This would be a cool TV series. Reminds of The Man in High Tower TV show.

I think tensions with Japan would be much lower. In Taiwan right now, popular opinion of Japan is super high. Although the historical grievances against Japan are of course deep, I think the PRC government has played a strong role in ensuring that its population never forgives Japan and keeps the feeling of victimization fresh. See also the huge number of populist anti-Japan war dramas being produced in Mainland China.

By the same token, the PRC also tends to end any anti-Japan protests or related violence, but you have a point.

Setting aside the fact that those protests end up smashing windows of helpless Chinese sushi chefs, rather than actual Japanese people, the PRC also doesn't legitimately want to provoke an international conflict with Japan. They just want to keep the flames of national passions burning, so that they can command the loyalty and unity of their citizenry.

If a Japanese expat got killed in some protest, it would be a major diplomatic problem and China might have to apologize, which would look bad.

This ignores geopolitical realities and the Chinese struggle to do away with foreign aggression and a decadent trend over the last 3 centuries.

I am not trying to dream up what China could have been. I am saying that the tensions between China and the West stem from a trend that is more profound that the current Chinese regime. For example I think that virtually everything China is criticised about in its geopolitical policies and actions would be unchanged with a different regime because these are not things dreamed up by the communists but are deeper both in historical terms and in geopolitical interests terms. The communist party itself is a product of these trends and this struggle, not the cause.

I’m not sure what “geopolitical realities” I’m missing because the KMT was born from the same grandfather that sired the CCP, Sun Yatzen. Also, almost all of Asia has been either under the colonial yoke or sphere of influence yet they are still friendly to the West due to both political alignment and deeper economic integration. I feel that history better supports my argument than it does yours

Exactly, the KMT was born from the same struggle as the CCP, and their overall policies regarding China's territorial claims and place in the world are quite aligned because these really are aims of the Chinese people, not specific political parties.

The tensions between China and the West result from China's rise, not from the CCP being in power. China is not more or less 'friendly' because of the CCP. They are simply asserting themselves, advancing their interests, and trying to right perceived historical wrongs.

How 'friendly' countries are between each others (and China isn't really unfriendly) depends on their interests, not really on political regimes. Case in point: The US are extremely friendly with Saudi Arabia.

'friendly' in this context is pretty meaningless, but if you insist:

Korea is 'friendly' (well half of it) with the West because it sees it in its interests in order to balance China (and Japan) and because as a small country there is no reason not to be friendly, plus there are American troops there to remind them. They were as 'friendly' under the military dictatorship.

Japan is 'friendly' because it sees it in its interests (against Russia and China, especially during the cold war) and because it was not left a choice anyway.

When Vietnam opens up to the US it is to balance China's rise. The US are quite happy with that although Vietnam's regime is very similar to China's. Why? shared interests again.

China does not need to balance between the big guys and to stay on their good side in that way. It is one of the biggest guys, so it acts like the US do, and that is the root of the problem for the US.

Hopefully this clarifies the "geopolitical realities".

To think that if 2 countries are both democracies they will be 'friendly', or that if they aren't they won't be, is very naive, frankly.

> The tensions between China and the West result from China's rise, not from the CCP being in power. China is not more or less 'friendly' because of the CCP. They are simply asserting themselves, advancing their interests, and trying to right perceived historical wrongs.

This is a weak argument because a non-CCP China would be even more economically entwined with the West since its market would be a lot more open ie shared interests. It would share more political culture as well e.g. Tienanmen and Xinjiang would never have happened. Also if your argument was correct, developed Western nations would have a lot more beef with both India and Brazil today, and with Japan decades previous. They don't. A modern KMT China would a much stronger version of Japan or South Korea. History still sides more with my argument.

I think the U.S. can certainly intervene, the question is whether or not it is worth it.

Can starting WWIII ever be worth it?

So, no, the US will not attack China directly, in the same way that China will not attack the US directly.

Edit: Using 'intervene' in response to a comment on direct military intervention should be clarified if you don't mean exactly that...

Intervening doesn't have to mean attacking China directly.

Its extremely unlikely that China is going to "take the ROC without firing a shot" after the disaster Hong Kong has been for them.

Why do you think it has been a disaster for them, even in HK, they would play the long game, and likely do nothing drastic for years or even decades. The fact is even in HK protests, they have largely not intervened in any manner, and haven't tried to tackle in a violent manner.

OTOH see how protests in Delhi have turned out over another draconian law. On the day Trump himself was in Delhi in Feb 2020, more than 10 people got killed in violence.

Its no secret to anyone who has paid attention (which the Taiwanese certainly have) that China has been constantly undermining Hong Kong's guaranteed independence with both political pressure and government cronies.

The fact they haven't outright invaded and smashed Hong Kong is hardly high praise.

There is zero chance that the CCP will hold up their end of any bargain Taiwan makes to join it, and the situation in Hong Kong proves it.

It would be interesting though that if USA could make a deal in which they accept the loss of Taiwan for unification of Koreas. But that's kind of far-fetched.

It makes me sad thought that North Koreans still have to suffer their relic of past regime, which is just net-negative for the population at whole. Yet their lives and well-being is just a part of the geopolitical chess board, and the regime will continue to exist as long as Chinese leaders seem fit.

Interestingly, the border is actually right in Xiamen's bay, not all the way out at sea.

They can wave at each others (almost).

Xiamen from Taiwan: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@24.4496222,118.2383558,3a,75y...

I think this would lead to an actual war. Taiwan has weapons, its own military, etc. Hong Kong doesn't. There will be protests, however. Nevermind potential U.S. involvement.

It's so tragic.

Agree, Hong Kong fate was sealed in 1990's. But Taiwan will spark a war, and for good reason. Bullets and bombs cannot be ignored and China is not popular in that area. So they'll leave Taiwan alone, IMO, for decades, until /when /if China is sure that they can overpower US military.

Nobody, will ever overpower the US military. Not because the US is particularly advanced but because of their nukes. The same applies to the Chinese and Russian militaries and most likely all other nations with nuclear weapons.

wrong. USA will not use nukes to help Taiwan. The other side has nukes too and can easily point them to major US cities.

Then you are not overpowering the US military but the US diplomacy and its softpower. Any direct war between nuclear powers will eventually end with the use of nuclear weapons unless one side stands down.

Nor will the Chinese attack Taiwan, because Taiwan is supported by a nuclear power.

Hong Kong fate was sealed when China turned from the Soviets to the US as a strategic partner and started to adopt non-idiotic economic policies.

Here's an insightful analysis about a hypothetical China/Taiwan war:


I think it is possible to unify China without bloodshed and war. The way to do it is via social media and the ballot box. Recent history has shown that it is possible to effect major policy changes in representative democracies around the world in this fashion.

From what I can tell the CCP would never allow a democratic vote on this issue. Even for unification. From their POV eventual reunification is something the populace of Taiwan has no say on.

I agree, but this is kind of self-defeating behavior by the CCP. Human nature being what it is, saying "We own you and you have no say in the matter" elicits a response of "Oh, yeah? We'll see about that".

If Taiwan is ever going to unite with China peacefully, it is going to come after China changes its stance.

From their point of view, there is no need for "reunification", as Taiwan is simply a rogue province that will eventually be forced back into line.

Do you mean to say Xi's crony communist party would somehow get voted out of power on the mainland? (This is a question mark)

You are talking as if those would happy in a communist country. It hasn't really worked out in western countries that well we people tried to do this

> Recent history has shown

Or has it shown that a losing party will grasp at any straw to explain why they failed?

Advertisement has been a major part of democracies for 100s of years.

> Nevermind potential U.S. involvement.

What does this mean?

The U.S. may come to the aid of Taiwan. The big question is to what extent.

For China this is the great unknown. Obviously they could retake the island on their own, albeit suffering casualties, but the question is what U.S. involvement might look like.

It could be anything ranging from saber rattling D.C. and not a single shot fired to full-scale war dragging in regional allies (South Korea, Australia, Japan, and others) in the ultimate raison d'etre to try to stop the rise of China. It could break out into a regional war with China and North Korea versus the U.S. and allies who decide it is a fight worth fighting - Japan and South Korea most likely.

I think most likely the Chinese will focus on a publicity campaign unless the U.S. is in a severely (historical not seen in the last 100+ years) weakened position, because while annoying, it's not worth the risk of such a huge war. You can basically change a country through influence, so why not just wait and go through things that way?

The US will not attack China militarily.

Korea and Japan won't either because they clearly have not the strength and, for Japan, are prevented from doing so by their constitution. Frankly it would be suicidal for them to do that so they won't.

If Taiwan were to be taken by force it would have serious consequences, politically and economically, but no-one would launch a military attack on China in response. The US, and perhaps others, would likely help Taiwanese forces, though.

> The U.S. may come to the aid of Taiwan. The big question is to what extent.

All pre-revolution government debt has been in default since the revolution. China claims it is the responsibility of Taiwan and Taiwan claims it is the responsibility of China. They owe many trillions to bondholders all over the world.

If the two merge, they can't dodge the claims anymore and still be part of the world financial system. It will have to be negotiated, and US law allows the government to collect on behalf of American bondholders. Any settlement will be very painful for China if they insist on taking Taiwan by force.

No one cares about debt from.the old China, it's meaningless like debt from nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy. You need to explain what you mean.

A lot of people here are alluding to the fact that China is planning to invade Taiwan in a not so distant future. China wants to annex Taiwan, that's for sure, and I don't think they are trying too hard to conceal this intention. But military invasion means crossing a sea that is 130 km wide at its narrowest. Such an think can't happen if you don't own the sea and the skies. There are two ways to do that: you get a better Navy than the US Navy, or you get the US Navy to stay out of the way. The first one is all but impossible, while the second one is highly unlikely. The only realistic way for China to take over Taiwan is via a democratic process, by a charm offensive. This is many, many times more likely to happen than a military operation, but if it happens, then that's the will of the people.

Though presently Taiwan is ruled by the DPP who is pro-independence, the other major party which has been often in power, the Kuomintang generally tries to foster a "Chinese" identity rather than a "Taiwanese" one and have always had a vision of "Reunification" with China, eventually. So the political dynamic in Taiwan has a bearing on the matter.

If your claim that the only thing stopping China from invading Taiwan is the US Navy, then China doesn't necessarily have to charm Taiwan to achieve their goal. They could also charm (or otherwise pressure) the US into not intervening.

>The only realistic way for China to take over Taiwan is via a democratic process, by a charm offensive.

They haven't been doing all that well with that lately.

China has publicly said that it is very patient in this regard. The only thing that will trigger invasion, is if Taiwan makes a concerted effort towards full independence.

...and while we can say that HK protests and covid-19 have reduced the popularity of unification, it is still, on average, more popular an idea than at any time since the split in 1949.

EDIT: Because I couldn't find any data supporting my above statement, I'll just throw a link with the latest (20yr) trend that mostly just says that the vast vast majority of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo...

source: http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2019/01/

...and since China has said publicly that they won't act against Taiwan as long as they don't move away, then the only outcome we're going to see on Taiwan is a whole lot of nothing for the foreseeable future - even if HK students on here want to see Taiwan supporting them - that doesn't seem like that's going to happen.

I thought the UK might complain a little louder about this

Even if they did it would just be a strongly worded letter. The only way I can see to stop an eventual Chinese takeover of Hong Kong would be a military intervention, which would amount to an invasion of the Chinese Mainland. Which means not only taking and holding Hong Kong before Chinese forces can secure it but suppressing their Naval, Air and Rocket forces. Oh and they're a nuclear power.

For better or worse no one's wading into that clusterfuck in the name of civil rights, and no one outside the US has the force projection capacity to even consider it. Maybe we'll see some economic sanctions, but from an ideological perspective the CCP cannot and will not allow Hong Kong to leave China, it would invalidate a cornerstone of their existence (their ability to keep China united, a very rare historical anomaly).

The UK is weak (both in terms of their collective mentality and their influence on international politics), and they have an aggressive self-hate over their history of successful colonization efforts. This is what they decided they wanted for Hong Kong - they knew what would happen when they voluntarily ceded control of HK to China.

> This is what they decided they wanted for Hong Kong

Historical revisionism much? China was prepared to come and take Hong Kong, the only thing that preserved the current state was a deal that allowed China to save face. The U.K. had no ability to defend Hong Kong - they actually got a much better deal than could have been expected, with China worrying about its international reputation at the time. The Chinese could have walked right in to Hong Kong and taken it much, much more quickly.

The fact that China might have come in shooting doesn't make it any less of a choice. If they had thought it was critically important to maintain democracy in Hong Kong, they wouldn't have agreed to a 50 year phase-out, they would have simply demanded democracy forever and set up a government in exile if the tanks rolled in.

What good is a government in exile going to do? The 50 year phase out at least kept Hong Kong democratic for awhile so people could normalize it and expect and demand it, versus has China just rolled in many people would have died and they wouldn’t have enjoyed democracy at all.

As there was no realistic possibility of the course of action you advise preventing, as you put it, the tanks rolling in, you are suggesting there should have been a no-deal "brexit" from Hong Kong with the establishment of a government-in-exile.

As it happens, there has been a Chinese government-in-exile in Taiwan since 1949. Its practical influence on the governance of China itself since then has been zero to two decimal places, and is unlikely to increase in the future.

I am not at all sanguine about China's oligarchy, either for Hong Kong or the world, but geopolitical fantasies are just a way of avoiding facing the facts.

Britain did not get what it wanted, either for itself or the people of Hong Kong. What it got was what it was able to negotiate, and, given its weak position, it wasn't just a sell-out.

Our government are happy to sell us out for minimal payment...

Let's be realistic about what the UK can do here, especially in light of its need to deal with the consequences of brexit on its trading relationships.

In March the UK parliament broached the topic of Uighyrs;


The 1:20 clip I posted is the final summary, but the entire 20 minutes is worth watching.

I understand that HK was under British rule for a long time (I remember well when the hand over happened). But after the hand over I don't understand why HK was not treated just like any other Chinese region/province/state/district (I realize now that I don't know how China splits up it's country)? Why was HK granted special privileges that made it different than other parts of the country? To me it would be as if Kansas is allowed to do things totally different than the other 49 states, such as not pay federal income tax. Why would that kind of thing be allowed?

Because the handover treaty said that it had to happen for the next 50 years. And the 50 years aren't up.

Ah, interesting. I did not know that.

Capitalistic and free society Vs. "Communism" and suppressive society. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was to address these concern on merging such polarizing society together, which is giving HK a special status, different law (system), and autonomy (which doesnt exist anymore, 22 years into its 50 years treaty).

It is stated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration that "The [HKSAR] will be vested with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication." [1] So it's unclear how this can be legally imposed unilaterally on Hong Kong. That said, the proposed law appears to be one which the HK legislature is required to pass under Article 23 of the Basic Law, which states "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies." [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-British_Joint_Declaration

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_Basic_Law_Article_23

An earlier take-over is bound to happen unless the protests in Hong Kong manage to escalate to the national scale.

There will have been more public empathy in mainland for Hong Kong have people in Hong Kong in general been nicer to people visiting from mainland in the last 20 years instead of being so discriminative and unfriendly. And if there are more empathy, we will see protests as well as stronger public opinions among people in mainland favouring non interference in Hong Kong. And it will become an actual movement. And there will be actual changes. Let's not forget the protests in 1989 were started by mainland Chinese themselves and though it ended in the worst way possible it was not in vain. In many ways they had had positive impacts to the system and the overall human rights in China (though it still doesn't enjoy the same degrees of freedom as in the West).

People in Hong Kong as well as people in China should take this as a sociocultural lesson. If we want to change and improve the system, we need to unite. As much as the system is authoritarian the way the system works ultimately reflects how divided the people see themselves.

Time for democratic countries - those with genuinely free elections and an independent effective judiciary - to leave the UN and WTO and form their own global Democratic Freedom Organisation - with members benefiting from Free Trade, common standards, and in the long term, freedom of movement plus a supreme court. They should impose onerous tariffs on corrupt governments like the PRC and lower tariffs on countries progressing towards democracy and away from corruption. Some short term pain as supply chains are disrupted but would be a massive force for the good of humanity in the long run.

Interesting that this is downvoted without comment. That ratio is mighty suspicious, especially since this is an idea worth discussing.

And yet no one discussed the idea.

That’s what happens when stuff gets downvoted. It’s why astroturfing works

The better title is take external or alien control of HongKong.

Whilst pathetic most laws and bills have a process local in Hong Kong. Like a right wing paradise you not just have free market but also has essentially no government (police dare not to walk the street say) and no bill pass for months now. Even pandemics the response of the Gov is continue to open the border so the mainland Chinese can fly in and out of china. The public just on their own finding ways to get mask, making them and wearing them. On their own.

Now the china would bypass the local legislature to enact the law the local has opposed since 2004 with the 1st time million comes out again the security law.

Guess they want to as that law give mainland rights to institute their own force and likely their own legal procedure which unlike common law the accuser has to prove themselves innocent.

Good luck and with that gone Hk is ended. In the past we at least may know. Now we may not. Just no idea if you are in mainland why Hk stock market drop 5% in friday, the largest drop in last 5 years.

When the law is enacted bypassing your constitution (see all us, uk+2, and even the Eu Announcement), you are done.

What to do if you are Jews under nazi. Unlike USA to Jews, there is nowhere to go as the law actually covered any HKER in the world. We know they will enforce it in spite of you are outside china. It is a bigger country than North Korea.

Fight. See you.

The writing was on the wall once it became clear that the West isn't going to do anything about it.

Very true. China gov is easy to find that the West will do nothing for it. We can find an example from the Crimean Peninsula.

So, the fact is that another East Berlin has been set up. Let see how many tragedies like East Berlin will be replayed.

Not that I'm arguing for China but that was always the case since the takover right? I mean that it will happen before 2047 or sooner as a part of a gradual change

>In accordance with the "one country, two systems" principle agreed between the UK and China, the socialist system of China would not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and Hong Kong's previous capitalist system and its way of life would remain unchanged for a period of 50 years until 2047 [0]

0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-British_Joint_Declaration

There was a huge wave of immigration from HK in the 90s because of this. Children of these families resented their parents. Hopefully, this vindicates the parents.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was another wave of immigration away from HK. Of course, the poor and uneducated are trapped.

Just a small tip... Outward immigration is called emigration.

Yes, and we all knew this was coming...then. In the events of the past few months, however, the UK appealed to China to keep their word, and the response that this was no longer a British concern. So we know they intend to do whatever they can.

The Chinese takeover of HK will be an excellent case study for the thesis from Why Nation's Fail

because bigger nation invades?

No, because one has a more or less free market with inclusive economic and political institutions, and the other is China

And if the thesis holds, the erosion and replacement of these institutions by the central state's preferred methods should result in a drastic reduction in prosperity for HK.

Being an extremely British culture, HK residents are almost entirely pacified and disarmed. If you want to have inclusive economic and political institutions, you need to pair that with an extremely bristly population to make China's strategies economically unviable.


Please this sort of nationalistic flamewar off HN. It's not what this site is for.


It’s appeasement in a new form. We are all acting like corporate Neville Chamberlains. A lot of bad behavior is truly subjective, but the stuff China is doing is not. Any arguments against that suggestion usually fall under the realm of moral relativism, e.g ‘But what about what all the shit America does?’. We’ll discuss America in America’s in own thread, there’s plenty there to rip apart.

Quite frankly, the Chinese people demonstrably have a weak value system when it comes to these issues, exemplified by inaction (what are these people willing protest? Is it a matter of willingness or is it entirely possible they see nothing wrong with the camps or the subjugation of Hong Kong?).

The criticism certainly won’t come from within China, so it must come from outside.


China being the largest case study of the Bystander effect sounds quite plausible.

I would also love to get some smart polling data from the Chinese public, and by that I mean not what America did in the 2016 election where we couldn’t obfuscate the questions to extract real sentiment.

Ask them a question like ‘do you feel people in Hong Kong think they are better than mainlanders?’, and then I think we’ll start to expose some reality.

It sounds nice to say, the outside world should stand up to China. But what does that mean exactly? War? Nuclear war? Something that involves the threat of nuclear war? There just isn’t any obvious solution. Our era of nuclear deterrence means that self-sufficient nuclear countries can largely set their own internal policies.

IMO any change in China will come if and when the Chinese people themselves fight for it.

There are multiple possibilities that governments have refused to implement. Strong economic and trade sanctions, restrictions on China-based investment in foreign property and businesses, restrictions on businesses that do business with or setup factories in China, travel restrictions for Chinese nationals, etc. The fact that none of these have happened for the most part shows where the values of the rest of the world actually are - economics is more important than ethics.

It's funny because there was a policy that would been both restrictive on China, and made sense economically: the TPP. Unfortunately, populism took hold in the US, and globalism (and with it, the TPP) became the scapegoat.

Our only tool is economic policy. The elephant in the room is that the pro-Democracy West is actively funneling money to the PRC.

Slowly start ramping taxes of products out of China. Same strategy to use when converting the world to EV. Not an overnight change.

> War? Nuclear war? Something that involves the threat of nuclear war?

Those all sound like good options if sanctions etc. can't force a change. It was time to nip China in the bud a long time ago. Better late than never. And yes, I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is and enlist.

Seriously? Nuclear war with China would probably end up devastating the entire planet. That is not the solution. It would just cause even more innocent people to suffer and die.

China growing in power is incompatible with a free world. At some point we have to push back somehow. Taking HK and recognizing it as an independent nation would be a good start.

What's your alternative, perpetual appeasement and turning a blind eye to everything they do?

The economy used to be dependent on slave labor. The bandaid had to be ripped off at some point because it was wrong and the economy adjusted. The same has to be done for relations with the organ harvesting totalitarian gorilla in the room that we could all overpower if we came together.

> What's your alternative, perpetual appeasement and turning a blind eye to everything they do?

Are you presenting a dichotomy where our only options are war (likely to be nuclear) or appeasement and turning a blind eye?

If sanctions and diplomacy fail, what else is there?

I'm not even convinced that the US would win a direct war with China. It would certainly result in the sacrifice of probably 100s of millions of lives, if it became nuclear. I feel like MAD will continue to be a very powerful force in preventing a full scale war with China. (Unless there's an accident an unpredictable event, which is something that keeps me up at night.)

Everything else needs to be tried before we jump into "let's have a full scale war with China, one that we can't even be sure of winning, and would likely end in life becoming much worse for both the average US and Chinese citizens". We've barely even started trying, so let's not just jump to the worst possible solution.

The world can take production facilities and resource processing to other countries, boycot trade with China, change the postal union paperwork to no longer list China as a third would country and make it pay for its own shipping. The world then needs to invest heavily in the poor countries that China has been investing in for years to balance their power.

This will probably make most luxury items unattainable for anyone but the upper class, will set back worldwide trading several decades, cause economic collapse across many industries and might spark the invasion of Taiwan.

Politicians know that taking action against China will only hurt them and their voters in the end. We've let China become too powerful because it made our lives easier and now it's too late to take proper action.

The only way I see to prevent the chinede government from overthrowing Hong Kong is through a coup d'etat or a new world war. The Uyghur concentration camps are a lot easier to ignore than the risk of global nuclear destruction, so it'll probably never happen.

An even weaker nation when it comes to economic influence, Russia, has been free to attack and invade Ukraine without much more than a slap on the wrist and some fines. No UN actions, no NATO standing ready to fight any future invasions.

Eventually empires like China are toppled when powerful people in the ruling class are divided. We won't see it happen within out lifetimes, but in a hundred years or so things will be different again.

Warrant-less surveillance states, media owned by the people in power.

China's and Xi Jinpeng are just the first of the large states to become fascist.

It's not how do you stop China...it's how do you stop this from happening worldwide.

What's scary is that with all of the new technology it could be impossible for people ever to revolt again.


China is a huge market and ecosystem for tech, and many tech people are interested in knowing what is happening there, to say the least.

Even ignoring the Chinese issue, many people here are interested in security, privacy, freedom of speech, environments, that is, broader impact of tech.

It’s China brute forcing the HK political system to take control.

I don't mind the occasional post that is big news like this could be, but it feels like the number of politics posts has grown a lot lately. Most of it US-centric

You can just flag all non-important political news. That's what I do.

This one is definitely worth an exception.

Agreed. Also I'm kind of new so I didn't realise you could, cheers for the info.

Well, here's one that's not.

I've honestly felt the same way. I started reading HN a few years ago and it's gone slightly towards how reddit operates.

Also noticed the CCP sympathizers are more numerous now than when the political posts started.

I haven't seen any yet.

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