You might have heard of the protests across Hong Kong over the last few months of last year. They came about because the Communist Party that completely controls mainland China’s political system wished to do the same for Hong Kong. In particular, at issue was the push by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (in other words, the Chinese Communist bigwigs) to reform the Hong Kong elections system to force candidates to gain mainland Communist approval prior to running for office.
Many of the protesters were brave and dedicated enough to hold their ground for over two months, but it looks like their efforts have come to naught. The Hong Kong government has decided to capitulate to the Communists’ demands and toss out free elections. From France24:
Hong Kong’s government Wednesday announced a roadmap for leadership elections that offered no concessions to the city’s democracy camp — prompting opposition lawmakers to walk out as the plan was unveiled.
Deputy leader Carrie Lam said the first-ever public vote for the post of chief executive in 2017 would be held in “strict compliance” with a ruling by China’s National People’s Congress last August.
That ruling stated that candidates for chief executive must first be approved by a loyalist committee — a decision that sparked more than two months of street protests that paralysed the city towards the end of last year.
Mrs. Lam also has evidently taken a page from the Washington Republican book on compromise. Here’s how she described the Hong Kong government’s approach to the problem:
“These proposals are in strict compliance with the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s constitution) and the relevant decisions of (China’s) Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” Lam said.
“At the same time they fully take into account the views expressed by various sectors of the community,” she added.
Lam described constitutional development as “complex and controversial”.
“It is neither practicable nor realistic to expect that one package of proposals can meet the ideals cherished by different people,” she said, adding that the plan had attempted to strike a balance between “numerous divergent requests and perspectives”.
So. Why does this matter to us? Keeping up the fight against Communism was for decades a central tenet of American foreign policy, and stopping an attempt by the largest Communist nation on Earth to extinguish one of the few beacons of (old style) liberalism permitted within its borders should be of great importance to our leaders in Washington, particularly our President.
Instead, if Barack Obama takes notice of it at all, it will be a token condemnation. Attached to that will probably be an acknowledgement that this is a local affair that is not of interest to the United States, but given just how important Hong Kong is to the global economy, this is absolutely a case where we should act in some way. Of course, I am not at all suggesting military action, but this is a prime example where a strong leader, like a Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, would have stepped in and applied diplomatic pressure.
Hong Kong is about to become less free, just the way the Chinese Communist Party has always wanted, and it doesn’t look like America will be doing anything about it.