Hong Kong is getting hot. Where does it end?
I am genuinely worried for the people of Hong Kong.
Right now there is a movement happening. Millions took to the streets over the weekend. The protest is now in its third month and is showing no signs of slowing down.
This isn’t a flash in the pan. This is a sustained drive. This is the stuff that revolutions are made of.
But this doesn’t end in revolution.
When I think it through, I’m struggling to think of many scenarios that don’t end in a blood-bath of one description or another.
So far China is being restrained. They’re clearly not happy with what’s happening in Hong Kong, but so far the tanks have stayed home.
And people are saying that China will be unwilling to use force. That they don’t want the international condemnation that will bring – the potential sanctions, the diplomatic isolation.
And that’s true. But only to a point.
Because the Chinese Communist Party is being pushed into a corner where its very existence is threatened.
That’s the thing about one-party states. Rule is absolute or its not.
Protestors are pushing for democratic reform. Democratic reform and one-party states are just not compatible.
If China gives in to the protestors and allows even token concessions to democratic participation, where does that leave every other region under China’s control. Taiwan? Within the Chinese mainland?
And do you let people believe that collective protest actually works – that you can actually win democratic concessions from the government that way?
Where does that leave you? Over a billion people who are no longer happy with being subjects in a Big Brother state, who now feel that protest is a good way to get what they want?
Yeah, nah, that’s not happening.
And it sounds like China is controlling the narrative within its borders. State media portrays the protestors as a lawless rabble, spurred on by foreign forces and willing to resort to violence.
But Hong Kong isn’t some far-flung interior province that no-one cares about. Everyone knows about Hong Kong. If the shiz goes down in Hong Kong, it’s going to be hard to control that message for long.
And so this isn’t about who controls Hong Kong, or how much democratic freedom Hong Kong does or doesn’t have.
This is now about the survival of the Chinese Communist Party as we know it. This is about whether their rule remains absolute, or quickly begins to disintegrate.
And what happens if the CCP is forced to choose between becoming an international pariah for a generation, or ceasing to exist?
My bet is they chose the pariah option.
… as sad and as gruesome as that’s probably going to be.
And this will change everything.
For the past twenty years the rise of China has been one of the dominant investing themes. It drove the resources boom here in Australia. It’s driven wage and consumer price deflation around the world.
And it’s all about to change.
In time, this shifting of the global economic order will create opportunities. I’ll write more about that another time.
But not today. Today I’m worried for the people of Hong Kong.
And I’m just praying that it works itself out peacefully.