As the People’s Armed Police gather with their vehicles in Shenzen, it looks like Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy may soon be at an end.

I haven’t exactly been shy about casting the Red Chinese as villains in the past.  Despite the propaganda that they’ve been spreading around, and that has been often parroted by those with financial ties to Beijing, they’ve certainly earned it over the years.  (Try to get any official Chinese outlet to talk about Tianamen Square sometime.)  While it might be tempting, given the sheer weight of Chinese products sold to the West, to think that China has truly “embraced” the free market, the Chinese Communist Party is still firmly in charge.

The CCP has been eminently practical over the last few decades.  Rather like Lenin’s New Economic Program in the ’20s, they have opened the country up to trade with the West, and profited handsomely from it.  They have become an economic powerhouse since the ’90s.  And yet, Beijing still controls that powerhouse with an iron fist.  The recent drop in the Chinese stock market a couple years ago has been speculated to have been a planned correction.  The planned and supervised nature of the Chinese economy is nowhere more evident than the “Ghost Cities,” entire metropolises built purely to give workers something to do.

Hong Kong has been a useful tool in this program since it was handed back over to Beijing by the British in 1997.  Allowed a certain amount of political and economic autonomy, as StrategyPage summarizes, it has made the Chinese (and therefore the CCP) a lot of money, while also providing an example to Taiwan of unification without loss of democracy.  But that democracy has been sharply curtailed and controlled by Beijing.  The CCP decides who can run in Hong Kong elections.

The recent 30-year anniversary of Tianamen Square appears to be making the CCP nervous.  More information about the massacre has been getting out among the Chinese people.  The CCP has ruthlessly quashed any talk about Tianamen for decades.  A loss of control in Hong Kong could not only cause further unrest in the rest of mainland China, but it could make dealing with Taiwan even more difficult.  At the same time, a crackdown could hurt the economic powerhouse that is Hong Kong, therefore affecting China’s standing in the rest of the world, and her plans for attaining true superpower status.

China’s push for regional dominance and global economic hegemony are largely based on economics.  While the PLA has been built up and modernized a great deal in the last couple of decades, it is still relatively fragile, and incapable of the kind of force projection the US can exert.  While the Chinese are clearly busy expanding that capability, they have long used indirect and irregular means to get what they want, going back to ancient times.  A large part of this has involved massive loans and infrastructure projects in countries that have natural resources that China can use, causing those countries to incur massive debts they can never pay back.  With the current trade conflict with the US pinching some of their economic power, a loss of Hong Kong’s productivity could hurt the program.

It appears that right at the moment, the Chinese are playing things carefully, playing up the violence of the street protests while allowing the local Hong Kong police to handle things as much as possible.  Some of the reports have been exaggerated, as Michael Yon documented from the Hong Kong airport.  However, the above documented massing of the PAP in Shenzen suggests that this won’t last forever.  For now, the PAP seems to be there more as a warning to the protesters than anything else.  But that could easily change.

A Tianamen-style crackdown on Hong Kong could have far-reaching implications.  It will likely make other countries in Southeast Asia, already leery of China’s expansion, even more standoffish.  The loss of Hong Kong’s economic power would hurt a Chinese economy already reeling.  And yet, the CCP cannot afford to allow Hong Kong to become more autonomous.  Because the more Hong Kong is allowed to float somewhat outside of the harsh control of the People’s Republic of China, the more the residents want to get even farther away.  Which would entail the loss of the economic advantages altogether.

The future of East Asia will be greatly affected by what happens in the next few months in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Crackdown
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Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Since he got out, he's been writing, authoring many articles and 24 books, mostly Action/Adventure and Military Thrillers, with some excursions into Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction.

2 thoughts on “Hong Kong Crackdown

  • August 18, 2019 at 12:17 am
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    From Michael Yon yesterday:

    “BLUF: Revolution underway in Hong Kong — You saw it here first…

    I’ve been going to dozens of protests and watching and listening and talking and often just sitting there taking it in.

    This movement contains all the elements of revolution. There are many groups involved and so you might here different things from different people with different goals and analytical abilities.

    Those who have read my work for years know how well I am able to analyze situations such as this — and sound crazy all the way up to the point that my analysis was obviously correct.

    Bare bones, in skimpiest detail, the situation:

    1) Pre-existing conditions make near perfect conditions for rebellion: cultural, language, governmental, economic, and other conditions created a wide gap of mistrust and unease between ‘native’ Kongers and Mainland Chinese. This creates extreme vulnerability

    2) Mainland Chinese and the government are systemically abusive to Kongers and on their face wish to eradicate, control, and absorb Kongers. Kongers resent and do not want this. Extreme vulnerability.

    3) Extradition treaty was a ton of straw suddenly dropped on the camel. The spinal snap was audible the world ’round. I heard that snap and flew to Hong Kong.

    SNAP!

    The treating created an inflection point in early June 2019. I heard the snap from thousands of miles away and flew to Hong Kong in late June.

    By mid August, I have seen enough. Remember my track record in Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand, more. Extremely good on taking in these situations and finally giving a trained opinion that withstands time.

    4) Massive protests in early June.

    5) I arrive late June.

    6) July/August: Protests morphed into General Civil Unrest. This is a completely new phase and should not be confused with the previous protest phase. Yes, protests are still occurring and they look the same on television, but they are not the same. This is General Civil Unrest.

    7) Even by June, certainly through July, and now full steam in August, some large element of the “protestors” are doing all the right things to unseat the current government and fully rebel against China.

    They are:

    7a) Organizing at an astonishing rate that I have never witnessed before. In just three months, Hong Kong is on front end of full rebellion, and nobody on the press to my knowledge has noticed this, nor have any analysts to my knowledge noticed this, other than Chinese who are busy blaming CIA. (Note: CIA…if you are behind this, kudos and high five. You are doing great.)

    7b) The rebels are doing a fantastic job discrediting police and other civilian government. This phase is an essential aspect to transit from protest to civil unrest to rebellion/insurgency to open operations to revolution.

    7c) Rebels have earned sympathies of the vast majority of western press.

    7d) Rebels have seized the initiative and are controlling — at this point — the pace of operations and the gas.

    8) If this indeed contains at the nucleus some form of managed rebellion, at the three month point they are wildly succeeding. Protest phase is behind. Civil unrest is growing and succeeding. Rebel base is growing. Options for Hong Kong government and China are bad.

    At this point, I see a lot of people who have lived here for a long time or who have read some war books who do not yet believe what I am saying. The core of this engine room is running on the steam of rebellion coal. Or, as Hong Kongers keep saying, add oil.

    You are witnessing a rebellion.

    These are not protests. We are in the Civil Unrest phase and that is growing, and soon, my guess, you will hear more people openly calling for rebellion.

    The local government in Hong Kong cannot resist this forever, and Chinese intervention will bring more oil from international hands.

    Big days unfolding. Where this ends, nobody knows, but where it is heading at the moment is clear: the goal is not those five demands. Those are nothing but talking points and hat hooks. The goal is to oust the current government and resist assimilation by China.

    Bet on it.

    Remember also what I have been saying about the “trade war.” Finally, so-called experts are recognizing what I have been saying clearly since the first days: we are not in a trade war with China. We — USA — are directly attacking the Chinese Communist Party and our goal is to destroy CCP. If Hong Kong stands strong, and they are showing promising signs, Hong Kong may well eventually become an independent country.

    Sounds crazy. But remember my track record on things like this and place bets accordingly.”

    Reply
  • August 31, 2019 at 3:12 pm
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    I would like to believe the world is ready to do some arm twisting on the CCP and help the people of Hong Kong stand fast in the face of mounting pressure. I think as long as President Trump is in office that remains a credible threat to the CCP, but the economic situation in much of the developed world is beginning to deteriorate to the point that they may not have the stomach for a high stakes poker game with the PRC.

    Reply

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