Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist

This protester calls himself “Bruce’’ We’ve hidden his face and obscured his voice to protect his identity He’s one of the millions of Hong Kongers taking to the streetsMany people here are wearing face masksPeople are hiding their identitiesThey fear that the government will press chargesWhat started as a protest against an extradition bill… …has become the most serious challenge… …to the Communist Party’s authority… …since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago As the demonstrations enter a third month… …neither the government nor the protesters is willing to back downPolice fire tear gas, rubber bullets……and use their police baton to hit the protestersBut it’s not enough to deter the demonstrators So what happens now?This is a real nightmare for the Communist government in BeijingThey can either crush Hong Kong……or they can tolerate being defied……in a way that undermines everything……about their whole structure of governmentThey have no good choicesHong Kong is one of the most important financial centres in the world And it has a unique status It’s a city in China but it’s not entirely Chinese It has its own currency… …its own passport… …its own legal system There’s even a boundary between Hong Kong and the rest of China… …and you need a permit to cross it This is all down to its history In 1842 Hong Kong was ceded by the Chinese to the British… …after the first Opium War But in 1997 Britain gave it back to ChinaHong Kong people are to run Hong KongWith one important condition… …for 50 years Hong Kong was to be governed… …under what is known as “one country, two systems” The chief executive who runs Hong Kong… …would be appointed by a pro-Chinese committee But the city was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy… …with its own government, legal system… …and economic independence until 2047 Over the past decade those rights have been eroded Fuller democracy, promised as part of the handover agreement… …has yet to be granted by ChinaYellow ribbon means come back, come back democracyEmily Lau was a Hong Kong politician for 25 years Today she still campaigns for democracyThings have deteriorated fast……particularly since President Xi Jinping came to powerSo people are very concernedWe want freedoms, we want personal safety……we want the rule of lawChina’s grip has got ever tighter In 2012 the government tried to install… …a patriotic pro-Chinese education system Then five Hong Kong booksellers… …who sold material banned in mainland China disappeared In 2016 pro-democracy opposition leaders… …were thrown out of Hong Kong’s parliament… …for insulting China when swearing their oaths And then in February this year… …the government introduced a bill… …which would have allowed extradition to the mainlandVery few people in Hong Kong imagine there’s going to be……full-on, Western-style democracyBut they are very angry about the way that……what they believe they were promised……was something much more accountable where……you’d have something close to universal suffrageThe basic social contract……between the people of Hong Kong and their government is breaking downAll this is fuelling the protesters’ angerThe invisible hand from China……are getting more visibleThey are putting more controls on Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracyHong Kong is not ChinaPeople will say to you, “We know that 2047 is coming one day……but we don’t want it to happen now”As the protests get larger and more violent… …the chance of China intervening increases Beijing has made thinly veiled threats to send in its military forces… …the People’s Liberation ArmyThose who play with fire will perish by itAt the end of the day, they will eventually be punishedA few weeks ago nobody seriously thought……we could see another Tiananmen Square in Hong KongNow you can’t rule it outIn 1989 a student demonstration in Beijing ended in massacre Hundreds, maybe thousands, were shot dead For the Chinese government… …the Hong Kong demonstrators are defying the authority… …of a Communist leadership that cannot tolerate defianceFor President Xi Jinping……his kind of north and south, his east and west, is the absolute authority……and total control of the Chinese Communist PartyAnd anything that threatens that must be crushedThey are afraid that it could be very infectious……and they don’t want to see such marches……in the other parts of mainland ChinaAnother fear is some protesters’ demand for full independence But military intervention would be a very risky strategy for BeijingHong Kong for all its woes……is still a very rich world financial centreTo roll troops into that kind of financial centre……would be an economic catastropheIn 1993 Hong Kong’s GDP accounted for… …more than a quarter of mainland China’s Today China’s remarkable rise means that Hong Kong’s… …economic output makes up less than 3% of the mainland’s But Hong Kong remains important for China Multinationals use it as a launch pad to the mainland… …and it gives Chinese companies access to the rest of the worldSo we are very specialWe are a window for China to look to the outside world……as an international city with all our connectionsIt’s very valuable to ChinaSo how the turmoil is resolved matters to more… …than just the people of Hong KongThe government there said the People’s Liberation Army may be deployedBut if that’s the case, the game is overIf China uses lethal force……then you would see an economic crashThere’s 85,000 American expatriates in Hong KongYou would see them fleeing for the airportThis all comes at a time when China and America… …are waging a trade and technology war Bloodshed on Hong Kong’s streets… …would make relations deteriorate even further Beijing is now blaming outsiders for the troubleWe’ve seen remarkably explicit……state-media commentaries telling the people of China……that these protests are not just radical and violent……but are also orchestrated by foreign forcesThe Chinese government resolutely opposes……any foreign forces attempts to intervene in Hong Kong affairsFor the Chinese Communist leadership……what’s happening in Hong Kong is evidence……that as China rises as one of the world’s most powerful countries……that the West is using every means possible to divide and to frustrate ChinaFor China the situation has become much more than a dispute over a law It’s become an existential threat Bruce and the other protesters are holding their breathI still worry what happens next……because the situation could deteriorate very rapidlyChina’s Communist rulers must choose between two mortal dangers… …the collapse of economic stability and prosperity… …or the acceptance that protests can limit the Party’s absolute power

100 thoughts on “Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist

  • Join us today at 1pm GMT for a live Q&A with Robert Guest, The Economist’s foreign editor, and Anna Bucks, this film's producer who will be answering your questions about the Hong Kong protests. Here's the link to see it: https://econ.st/31O1rpu

  • I feel sorry for Hongkongers. It will be very painful to realize that they are actually abandoned. Just to share with you, SHZ people are very grateful for these 'brave protesters' who help the central government make the final decision to give up endless sacrifice and shift focus on SHZ. If you want to know how much China has done for HK, take a look at 1998 and 2008 economic crisis, how come HK survived, a city with no agriculture, industry but only bubble trade economy. How much did it cost on Chinese tax payers. Thank you very much! Hong Kong is just like a spoiled kid.

  • Free Hong Kong ! Free China!
    Free to wear whatever you want!
    Carrie Lam committed human right abuse crime to deny Hong Kong people to defend pollution by wearing mask.
    All of her money abroad should be lock up and she should be arrested when travelling abroad.

  • People in Hong Kong who demand ‘democracy’ hit a man on his face just because he said ‘we are all Chinese’. Applause for ‘western democracy’. 🙃

  • Don't forget the corrupt Chinese Communist government official sent their police/troops to disguise as violent protester or police to incite violence!! So that they can KILL HK people with its justified cause!! There some Chinese are evil like that!! So we need the US pass the bill to go after those same corrupt official who steal money from its own people!!

  • The “ I am not Chinese syndrome " of Hong Kong English people is spreading. They are becoming the sick men and women of East Asia. England must accept them as refugees in order to protect their rights. What a shame to England, leaving those poor English citizens in China. Shame to England! How dare the politicians in England left their citizens. Shame to the British.

  • Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet and Autonomous region of Inner Mongolia should all just secede from China and join up with Taiwan and form their own country.

  • 5:39 is actully a pro-government protest. Notice all the Chinese flags they were waving. And they are in light colored shirts. And talk scares all you want, China did it in 89, what's following is 30 yrs of non-stopping rapid development.

  • There is going to be a war. When people get tired of being in shackles the only thing they'll rally together and fight for is their freedom. If history has shown us anything it's that freedom is always paid for in blood.

  • You could simply say ‘Chinese leadership’ instead of “Chinese communist leadership”. I don’t think you put capitalist in any sentence you use to describe western countries. The bias can’t be more obvious.

  • Its funny how some HK people think they are so much more special than rest of Chinese while their GDP is about less than 3% of Chinese overall economy. No matter wherever in the world, Hong Kong people will alway always be thought as Chinese. Not HongKongnese, Not British, but Chinese. That's the truth. Truly sad to see how everything just keep deteriorating in HK. God bless HK.

  • All of the warriors of Independence of North Ireland, Scotland, Welsh, let us join together to fight against the brutal tyranny. The Brixt is the best opportunity. Wake up! Fight for your freedom!

  • The communist government abuses taxpayers’ money to brainwash civilians to strictly follow communist party values. This party brainwash Children from primary school to university via curriculum even when they work. Their theory is that political party is their country, if you don’t like the ruling party, you’re the traitor. These miseducated population doesn’t have common sense of human being.

  • China using Propaganda in order to subdue Hong Kong. How very sad in this day and age. Hong Kong has a right to be independent!

  • This will only foreshadowed the more chaos that is to come in 2047 as Hong Kong will definitely fight against China for there freedoms. It’s going to be a painful year in 2047 as there might be a war taking place.

  • It is very suspicious that a consul from the us embassy in Hong Kong meets with the pro independent group. She meddles with China internal affair.

  • 香港人自己成功消灭自己在华人圈和世界的优越感,优势资源和制度优越感。可悲可叹,这就是反面教材。全体国人的反面教材。明明是资本主义政商结合的恶果,却被引导成种族主义,反中国,反法律 ,暴力

  • anything threat USA or British authority will be crushed as well. Hong kong no longer special, product life cycle already fall into decline part. Hong Kong need to find new position in global business. Hong kong protestors are nothing but traitor, if they don’t want to be Chinese I believe British and American will accept them as refugee. I don’t understand why they don’t leave and be part of western country.

  • I've seen the whole video, the tank just passed by and the pedestrian is not hurt at all. Intentionally made video. apparently political aims

  • for 156 years when the Brits ruled HK, they never had democracy and much less elections. Now these kids think that that was a golden era when they had freedom and democracy. Looks like the would much rather be ruled by a white governor appointed by a foreign queen.

    HK's economy did spectacularly in the past because China was closed to the world. Countries traded with China not directly, but through HK. Now that China is open for business, there is much less need for HK. The HK economy has suffered and the young feel left out because the HK governments polices has let them been priced out of ever owning a home. This is the root of the dissatisfaction HK people. But they somehow have been led to equate the current bad times with Chinese rule, and the roaring good times with British rule.

    Instead of understanding this, and working with the Central Government to tranform its role within Greater China, HK people still believe their prosperity was solely due to laissez-faire economics, or democracy or some other airy fairy idea.

    The HK government too has failed to understand this fundamental fact and therefore has not adapted to the new situation. Instead, it has allowed its young people to become disaffected and worse still, become used as pawns by the US in its superpower struggle with China. There can only be a downward spiral till people become humble enough to face their situation with brutal honesty.

  • 6:41 Ahhhh so thats why hk is a mess now. Some of its leaders think too highly of its city. They think china will follow their demand.

    And this also…show the foresight of china's leaders by preparing shanghai n shenzhen to take over hk's functions.

  • This video interviewed and talked about opinions from one side of the argument only. I am not sure how this is different from the so called controlled media all the Western media claim the CCP enforced in mainland China. Also, for a lot of the comments I read from this video, you talk about fighting for freedom and democracy and the sacrifice one must go through to achieve them. To be honest, the African warlord must have said the same thing when they motivate their "freedom fighters" to slaughter women and children.

  • If this report is true and speaking for the right, how to explain why police and some random people who just say “no” on the street to these protestors have been violently hit? How to explain these so called protestors damage the Metro facilities over and over again? I am right now in Hong Kong and am being so “lucky” to witness all these in the last three months. Even you are not in HK, the truth could easily be searched through YouTube. Hope everything will get better soon and every protestor has a chance to stop the mistake to use violence!Please stop the violence towards your own hometown and your own ppl! Please stand up and do something good for HK!

  • "But after 1997, Britain gave it back to China."Isn't that amazing, manipulate viewers with such a gentle touch?

  • Wherever British colonist was forced to leave, they left with seeds of calamity behind them. Britain deliberately sabotaged the transference of Hong Kong and created a democratic agenda that sparked today's riots. A genius idea they never come up with during their 1.5 century of shameless colonist rule. Now they stand aside and chant for violence and blood spilling.

  • Honk Kong will create up rest in mainland China see it as out side attack to sabatage China. This could create war warning

  • Shit media don't show riots and destroy without difference. Beating anyone who are not holding same value. Shame on you.

  • They don't even produce their own electricity no fuel supplies of their own. Hong Kong won't even survive own its own.

  • How much independence do they want. They are already demonstrating like this imagine this kind of demonstration in London or New York or Delhi the government their wouldn't have tolerated and would have crushed it. Yes outside world is sponsoring it and a small country known as united Kingdom is one of them.

  • For those who really want to understand what's actually happening in HK now:
    protestors have destroyed certain MTR facilities (certain stations have been severely destroyed), and then MTR decided to close MTR to repair the destroyed components (not sure if the western media show the picture of destroyed stations or not but there is a lot of pics available on HK media, not Mainland Chinese media), and protestors attack the MTR staff members for not opening MTR station (but think about why the staff close it).
    Apart from MTR, a lot of restaurants, shops, banks have also been severely damaged by protestors.
    And, I know a lot of media portrayed how HK police treat protestors, however, most videos on western media only show a part of the story, and have taken out the part how protestors assault, provoke and attack police.
    I understand that it's really hard to see the full and true story, but, pls, do some research before you choose a side/stance (for those people saying that stand with HK), coz when you have a side, you always tend to rationalize whatever people on your side are doing.
    Last but not least, freedom of speech and expression should definitely be respected and protected, but such freedoms are not absolute, check out ICCPR if anyone have question (article 12 probably).
    No abuse of such freedoms.

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  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nDCnR7tgV8Hong Kong police were found in the closed subway station. Some subway stations were set on fire, which the Police accused were set by the protesters. However, some incident indicated that the fire may be set by Hong Kong police. Many evidence showed that Liberty Army or Mainland Police were mixed in the Hong Kong Police forces during the crack down.

  • You want freedom, so you make others free of metro?
    You want personal safety, so you protest and even hurt innocent citizens?
    You want the rule of law??? OK, if that can be called 'legal', I'm speechless🙄.

  • Hong Kong think highly of themselves too much. They even think China can't run without them… Well, that might be true 30 years ago. See Shenzhen nearby, if Hong Kong continue to protest, Chinese government may leave it alone and make Shenzhen another Hong Kong, even greater.

  • i dont understand why the governments of the west sit by and do nothing about HK. After Nazi Germany the west swore they would never let it happen again. Well its happening in China, it happened with Tibetans, it happened with FaLongGong, it happened with XinJiang and it happened to Christians. And they want to drag the upstanding citizens of Hong Kong into their cesspit system of corruption, violence, organic harvesting and suppression. NO WAY!!

  • UK oready Not enough money maaaa…refer UK independent News " iLLumiNati Queen goes bankruptcy in 2011 n took train back hometown for merry X'Mas with 1body guard only maaaa..!!!.u all HK kids no working all depands on satanic iLLumiNati Jobs n waiting for Lunch <plus play play Hand phone games only HOW ??

  • Videos of pro-riotor are boosting, while videos of pro-China are hidden.
    Welcome to the real word of "Democracy and Freedom of Speech".

  • If we let 1bi people under a dictatorship and etnocracy, the whole world might change for the worse, sonner rather than later.

  • Ah the great Communism Vs. Capitalism battle.

    Everyone can agree they want more money, but no one can agree how to do it.

  • They're making Hong Kong Great Again. This is one thing I've seen American voters who are liberal and conservative agree on. #FreeHongKong

  • To all those westerners in the Comments, if you like the protestors so much, ask your government to grant them citizenship! We have no interest in these people who are so into "freedom and democracy", but it looks like they fit your ideology perfectly right?

    Take them!! don't just sit in the bed with your fat asses drinking soda and be like "I root for freedom"; take them!!

  • HK's current police state situation is worse than 1989 Beijing Massacre. Victims there got shot dead immediately by guns and tanks while HK commie police beat up protesters with batons until the victims laid down there to die on their own as insects. Over 120 protesters are slaughtered by police dogs or their hired triads with corpses dumped in the sea as were done during the Cultural Revolution!! Many more got serious body and brain injuries. The world got to help liberate HK from China criminal party the largest and most evil thuggish nation.

  • why journalists hesitate to use the word "terrorism" when it comes to crimes and violent acts of government forces and their supporters?

  • 不,香港并不是对中国来说最大的挑战。如何让这个世界认知到中国是一个在发展中从未主动挑起战争、和平崛起、文明崛起的国家才是中国在世界舞台上最大的挑战。中国足够大,并不需要向英国或者美国那样靠着殖民地、靠着黑奴贸易去做第一笔原始资本积累;中国足够文明,我们是世界四大文明古国中唯一一个从未曾断裂的文明,在我们高度享受文明带来的物质财富和精神财富的时候,欧洲还在用放血的方式治疗疾病;中国是个负责人的国家,对于合作伙伴的帮助掏心掏肺,而不是美国,对库尔德人狡兔死走狗烹、飞鸟尽良弓藏。事实上,中国才是最接近美国国父们想象之中理想的国家。我相信我的政府有足够的智慧和能力解决香港问题。

  • Hong Kong has ONE chance at remaining independent.
    They have to get nukes and the ability to launch them at China.
    Without that, it is game over.

  • That bill was meant to extradite the guy who killed his girlfriend and dismembered her body, cold blooded. You are supporting those criminal . Stop discredit the word democracy

  • Hong Kong’ protestors are trying to use “freedom” as an excuse to break the “agreed contract” of One China. People who stands for Hong Kong’ protestors is trying to teach people how to break the contract agreement simply using excuses and additionally through violence, which is not right. Just imagine how world will look like if “freedom”is used as excuses by all the criminals, all the criminals will be released, and there will be no law or disciplines to protect the good people. The basic rule is people who wear “freedom” cover could not take irresponsible behaviors. Please watch video “elderly woman vents frustration at Hong Kong protestors” to see what a real Hong Kong lover and warrior looks like. Please be advised that it is dangerous to let bad people to utilize “freedom”. Wish the world a peaceful and love place.

    If you deep dive into the facts, the protestors hit the police but they will not record that portion, they will start recording the video after police being attracted. These protestors are hitting the police, set buildings on fire, damaging the public resources. They are wearing masks is because they don’t want to take responsibilities for their irresponsible behaviors.

    Protestors are using violence to obtain attention for no matter what reason is not right and can’t be tolerated. How do you feel if one person punch you on your face and get you bleed badly just because he or she just wants to get your attention. If you tolerate once, all people will use violence to obtain anything they want, then criminals will be the world dominators. World will go back to undeveloped society. No matter how much competition different countries are having, people CANNOT encourage violence from the protestors.

    In terms of having reasons for using violence, think this way, if a person want something that belongs to you from you by broking into your house, ruining your house or family, and tell you that they have reasons, how do you feel? Will you feel sorry for them or your family? Having reason doesn’t mean they can do anything and don’t need to take responsibility of the behavior of breaking apart the family right?

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