China seems poised to engage in a crackdown on Hong Kong, with troops amassing on the Hong Kong border and police (controlled and supported by Beijing) violently removing protesters from the Hong Kong airport that they have occupied over the last two days. I have spent a lot of time on radio over the years talking about China; how its government runs and military acts, and the issues of its citizens. And I have repeatedly discussed how we, as Americans, should never think of China on any sort of equivalent footing: Never think of a Communist nation as in any way equal to a free nation.
Radical environmentalists – which include major swaths of the Progressive party in the US – often laud China for their Green innovations and clean mass transit. But China is responsible for some of the worst pollution on Earth.
In America, the concept of ‘Green’ has become social media fodder, based too much on emotion, and not enough on data. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has pushed the Green New Deal. It’s a radical proposal: short on specifics and long on limitiations of the rights of Americans. It’s a bad idea (airlines are good and flight is a brilliant innovation that should not be limited, and there is no eliminating cow farts with out eliminating, well, cows.)
But assume, somehow, America adopted these life-altering proposals. Does anyone think the Green New Deal is going to get implemented by the Chinese Government? Does anyone think China can be hashtag-campaigned into making a move like this?
In the 1990’s people thought adding more western culture to China would get them to open up to the world. What they didn’t realize is that China had no interest in opening up. They learned the lesson of the failure of the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev, and they went the other way. They took the Communist party, further solidified their power and cracked down even harder on the people.
Blue jeans and cheeseburgers did not stop the party, and neither will an AOC guilt trip on Twitter. Chinese Communists can not be hashtagged into change.
Hong Kong citizens are protesting actively, and aggressively. They want nothing to do with an extradition treaty that would permit the people of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. Hong Kong has been part of China since 1997, when the British colony reverted back to Chinese control. It is supposed to be two systems, one country. But Beijing wants control. Of Hong Kong, of Taiwan and of much, much more.
The people of Hong Kong are crying out, and that is simply not allowed in China. It is not a riot, no matter what anyone says. This is a cry for freedom. And that cry is being heard by Beijing, which has placed troops on the border. The moment conjours images of Tiananmen Square in 1989. The world remembers a lone man standing up to a tank. The world forgets that 10,000 people died that day. What could happen in Hong Kong would make Tiananmen Square look like nothing.
President Trump’s standard style is to love everybody until he says they’ve done him wrong, then attack them, then love them again until they do it his way. He has referred to the situation in Hong Kong as “tricky” and “tough,” and hope it works out for everyone, “including China.” President Trump clearly doesn’t want to be hard on President Xi, but he is not going to get that option when China decides to go ‘full Tiananmen’ on Hong Kongers. The decision on how to deal with China is going to come, writes Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine. He might as well be very clear that he won’t deal with any nation that engages in this kind of violence against its own citizens.
China has been clear, accusing the “black hand” of the State Department and the CIA for the protests. Rothman: “If Donald Trump’s aim is to keep mum about Hong Kong to avoid complicated negotiations with China over trade, Beijing isn’t giving him any credit for the effort.”
President Trump will eventually have to say that America isn’t going to build products (or buy products) in China. ‘They prevent their citizens from protesting? Threaten attack on protesters? That’s very bad. Not good. Not good at all. We aren’t going to deal with them at all. So, if you are somebody who works in China or builds in China, or is helping China, you are going to have a problem selling into the United States.’
President Trump should say that. He should say that to Google and Apple right now. Rothman:
Is the American position that China will suffer no diplomatic repercussions and can enjoy unfettered access to the American market even if it executes a Tiananmen-style crackdown in Hong Kong? Of course not. So why be coy about it?
(He’s right. How can he remain silent, or pretend the issue doesn’t exist, while working out a trade deal? Meanwhile, Trump has delayed tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese products until December 15th to assist the Christmas shopping season. That argument, also, is going to be a rough sell if China rolls tanks down the Tsing Sha Highway.)
Yet, despite the threat from Beijing, the protesters protest anyway. They protest in the Hong Kong airport, because they want the world to see what is happening. And while they protest? They’re singing:
Hongkongers are waving the American flag and singing our National Anthem. They aren’t social justice warrior-Americans at the Pan Am Games, raising their fists and taking a knee in protest of the ‘horrible injustices’ of America. The people of Hong Kong – who are literally staring death in the face – know that America is better. That what it is too many Americans take for granted – freedom- is the goal. They know what they are aspiring to be, and it is us.
In this moment, we should aspire to be us as well.