A recent comment is worth a response. Basically…
What are the rebuttals to the following facts: (1) China has sovereignty over HK and (2) It will *never* allow independence.
Expanded democracy is in the Basic Law, but in what way were the actions last year going to promote that?
HK has enjoyed wide freedoms. In what way were the actions last year going to protect them? Was not the current outcome — less freedom, more Beijing repression — inevitable and foreseeable?
This line of thinking crops up in some international media commentary, and among some moderate pro-establishment types. But it is essentially blaming the victim.
The questions focus on Beijing’s reaction to the 2019 uprising (which followed on from the previous protests in 2014), as if the protest movement was the cause of a problem rather than a symptom of one.
Responsibility must ultimately lie with whoever holds power. The Hong Kong people had no input into the way Beijing and its locally appointed administrations ran Hong Kong since 1997. Beijing must take responsibility for pushing up housing prices, for flooding Hong Kong with Mainland tourists and migrants, for prioritizing spending on white-elephant projects, and other cronyism and policies that harmed local people’s livelihoods.
These policies led to discontent and spurred demands for representative government. Beijing could have ordered the local administration to mend its ways, but didn’t. And of course Beijing finally rejected any chance of a more democratic model in 2014. As in Thailand or Belarus, if a regime treats its people with contempt for long enough, things will blow up. It’s not the ‘fault’ of the populace (or the CIA, or whatever).
Few people dispute China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, or seriously believe independence is a possibility. To the extent that some do, it is a reaction to Beijing’s handling of the city. Even the descent of 2019’s protests into violence was largely a reaction to police tactics and the refusal of the regime to find a political solution (see Clifford Stott).
To say “today’s outcome – less freedom, more Beijing repression – was inevitable and foreseeable” is getting it backwards. It was the leaderless and unplanned uprising that was inevitable and foreseeable. All Beijing’s fault. And nowhere near over yet.