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Can Beijing Survive Hong Kong Fever?
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Americans are caught up with the Ebola crisis and the Secret Service lapses in protecting the White House and the president’s family. But what is transpiring in Hong Kong may be of far greater consequence.

Last weekend, Hong Kong authorities used pepper spray and tear gas to scatter the remnants of a student protest of the decision to give Beijing veto power over candidates in future elections.

The gassing was a blunder. Citizens poured into the streets in solidarity with the protesters. Hong Kong police lacked the nerve or numbers to remove them. The People’s Liberation Army stayed in its barracks. Crowds clamoring for democracy controlled the city.

Now, on Beijing’s orders, authorities have adopted a “wait-them-out” strategy, assuming the silent majority in Hong Kong will get fed up with the Occupy Central protesters, as the Americans did with the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Beijing, however, is understandably nervous.

To allow students to block the city center and impede traffic shows weakness. Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial center and tourist attraction will suffer. And Beijing cannot permit this to go on too long without risking supportive protests erupting on the mainland.

Nor can the students be allowed to force Hong Kong to give up Beijing’s veto of candidates. To capitulate would expose President Xi Jinping as a leader who can be broken by street action. To permit that perception would imperil Xi’s standing with Beijing’s hard-liners, and potentially the regime itself.

Thus if the protesters do not vacate Hong Kong’s streets soon, they may have to be removed. And Beijing is not a regime to recoil from force if it has run out of other options.

The last democracy protests, 25 years ago in Tiananmen Square, were crushed by tanks, with hundreds dead. The Falun Gong religious movement was crushed. Protests by Tibetans and Uighurs demanding autonomy have been met with force and massive neo-Stalinist population transfers of Han Chinese into Tibet and Xinjiang.

Xi Jinping is no Mikhail Gorbachev. The people do not decide in his China. The party does. He does. He is more in the mold of the Leonid Brezhnev of 1968, who ordered Warsaw Pact tank armies in to put an end to the Prague Spring.

Hong Kong is also a microcosm of the world’s ideological conflicts — between democracy and authoritarianism, pluralism and nationalism.

American elites may sing psalms to multiculturalism. But in China, on the 65th anniversary of the revolution where Mao declared, “China has stood up!” nationalism is surging.

China’s claim to all the islands, shoals and rocks in the South China and East China seas, her warnings to Vietnam, Japan and the United States to stay clear, are cheered. Xi Jinping is seen as a nationalist and unyielding defender of China’s historic rights.

Vladimir Putin, a Russian nationalist, is the most popular foreign leader in China for taking back Crimea after a U.S.-backed coup in Kiev.

Putin’s campaign against NGOs in Moscow, which he sees as U.S.-financed centers of subversion, is being watched in Beijing, and similar charges are being made against U.S.-backed NGOs in Hong Kong.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has appealed to Japanese nationalism with his defense of the Senkakus against China and his call for the return of the southern Kuriles seized by Stalin at the end of World War II.

While Abe has suspended his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine to the spirits of Japanese warriors, including Hideki Tojo, his party members still make the visitations.

This week, President Obama hosted the new president of India, the hugely popular Hindu Nationalist Narendra Modi, who for a decade was denied admission to the U.S. for failing to halt a Muslim massacre in his home province of Gujarat.

The Arab Spring of 2011 has produced sectarian and civil wars, with Egypt, the largest Arab country, succumbing again to the rule of a soldier and authoritarian nationalist.

For the eighth year, Freedom House has reported a decline in freedom with “modern authoritarianism” a global growth stock.

ORDER IT NOW

Hong Kong may tell us which way the wind is blowing in the 21st century. Either the city is going to move toward a democratic future as the protesters demand, or it is going to be clasped more tightly to the bosom of the Motherland and absorbed into China.

And it is hard to be an optimist about the outcome of this struggle.

Consider this: For the Chinese Communists to adopt a U.S.-style Constitution would be suicidal. The people would use free speech to criticize and castigate the regime. They would use a free press to expose its incompetence, injustice and corruption. And they would use free elections to be rid of the regime and party.

Either democracy, or the Communist Party, has no future in China.

For they are irreconcilable, mutually exclusive. Democracy will either kill Communism, or the Chinese Communists will kill democracy.

Whatever happens in the short run in Hong Kong, that climactic battle is coming.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Hong Kong 
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  1. Consider this: For the Chinese Communists to adopt a U.S.-style Constitution would be suicidal. The people would use free speech to criticize and castigate the regime. They would use a free press to expose its incompetence, injustice and corruption. And they would use free elections to be rid of the regime and party.

    Hold on thar. With a US-style Constitution, the Chinese people would use free speech to criticize and castigate the regime? I don’t see why … it certainly isn’t happening in the USA. Would they use a “free press to expose incompetence, injustice and corruption”? Huh? Since when does the USA have a free press, and since when does it expose incompetence, injustice and corruption? At absolute BEST, this so-called American “free press” fingers IRS bureaucrats as favoring certain political organizations.

    I’m not so sure Buchanan is right this time around, if the Chinese power-centers have paid any attention at all to how democracy — and the now-laughable notion of “free press” — has failed in the USA.

  2. Realist says:

    As soon as China let’s Democracy flourish it will be the beginning of the end for them.
    Democracy is a form of government where no one is too stupid to be able to vote.

  3. Realist says:

    Consider this: For the Chinese Communists to adopt a U.S.-style Constitution would be suicidal. The people would use free speech to criticize and castigate the regime. They would use a free press to expose its incompetence, injustice and corruption. And they would use free elections to be rid of the regime and party.”

    You’re kidding right?
    There is no incompetence, injustice and corruption in our U. S. Democracy????

    • Replies: @Sid
  4. Retired says:

    Lot of stupid commenters on this site. Not surprising as only Sailer and sometimes Buchanan are the only writers on Unz who are not nutcakes. Ok I think Derbyshire shows up sometimes.

    Bash America from the right, you’re not much different from the America haters on the left. Love her or leave her.

    The Chi-coms will swallow Hong Kong because there is nothing to stop them from doing it. It will cost them financially and in world opinion but their political power will be undiminished. That’s all they care about.

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @KA
  5. Realist says:
    @Retired

    The really stupid commenters on this or any site are the ‘my country right or wrong’ idiots. Those people are hold overs from the Viet Nam war….a useless war that killed 58,ooo+ Americans….you know the one we lost.
    I am for a Meritocracy which in a crude way was the form of government this country started out with. This country has not even reached it’s 100 year mark as a Democracy or Democratic Republic (a distinction without a difference in result). This country started with a form of government where only white men with land or the money to buy land could vote….a crude form of Meritocracy. Poor white men, blacks and women could NOT vote….this is not a Democracy or Democratic Republic.
    It appears that Pat as well as most Americans do not know Democracy is a governmental system and capitalism is an economic system.

    • Replies: @retired
  6. retired says:
    @Realist

    You don’t think women and minorities should vote? More likely you have a more sophisticated method of discrimination, say land holders or literacy, some bar low enough that you can crawl over, at least for now.

    • Replies: @Realist
  7. Realist says:
    @retired

    “You don’t think women and minorities should vote?”

    Where did I say that? It is too bad you can’t read….it was the Founding Father who didn’t think women and minorities should vote

  8. “For the Chinese Communists to adopt a U.S.-style Constitution would be suicidal.”

    Well, Ho Chi Minh tried it and didn’t meet with any sympathy from the “Free World ™”.

    The U.S.S.R. had a great Constitution – on paper, but the secret police governance was free to ignore all laws.

    De Tocqueville had it right when he observed any form of government could devolve into its own brand of tyranny.

    To “Mr. Love It or Leave It”: just try to leave – the majority cannot, impeded both by domestic and foreign law. Besides, loving a nation’s people isn’t the same as loving a clatch of its corruptocracy.

  9. Sid says:
    @Realist

    “There is no incompetence, injustice and corruption in our U. S. Democracy????”

    Of course there is, but what still remains of our old Constitutional values keeps those things in check, and they strengthen as the Constitution’s influence over government and society narrows. The People’s Republic of China, whose governmental body has always been a hard, oppressive dictatorship, has far more injustice and corruption than the US government, and likely as much incompetence as well. Mao Zedong himself at the Lushan Conference in 1959 openly proclaimed that a free press would annihilate the People’s Republic.

    “There are about 700,000 production brigades; if each brigade makes one error, and you wanted to publish all 700,000 errors within a year, how could it be done? Moreover some articles are long and some short; it would take at least a year to publish them all. What would the result be? Our state would collapse and even if the imperialists didn’t come, the people would rise up and overthrow us. If the paper you publish prints bad news every day, people will have no heart for their work. It wouldn’t take as long as a year; we would perish within a week. To print 700,000 items all about bad things is not proletarian. It is more like a bourgeois country or party, like the political planning department of Chang Po-chün. Of course nobody present is in favour of this. I am exaggerating.

    “But if we do ten things and nine are bad, and they are all published in the press, then we will certainly perish, and will deserve to perish. In that case, I will go to the countryside to lead the peasants to overthrow the government. If those of you in the Liberation Army won’t follow me, then I will go and find a Red Army, and organize another Liberation Army. But I think the Liberation Army would follow me.”

    • Replies: @Realist
  10. Chico says:

    “Modern authoritarianism.”

    That is a good handle for the Singapore/China/UAE system that our own crony capitalists want to adopt for the USA.

  11. KA says:
    @Retired

    when did the world opinion ever stop Soviet,Hitler,Britain,or US?

  12. Realist says:
    @Sid

    “The People’s Republic of China, whose governmental body has always been a hard, oppressive dictatorship, has far more injustice and corruption than the US government, and likely as much incompetence as well”

    How would you know that?
    Mao Zedong has been dead 38 years.

    You are living in a dream world.

  13. Sid says:

    “How would you know that?
    Mao Zedong has been dead 38 years.

    “You are living in a dream world.”

    Mao killed 40-70 million people. Just as a start, it shows that the CCP has a criminal past on par with the Nazis and Stalinists.

    Also, I’ll add that since Mao died, the CCP has had the Tiananmen Square massacre, harvested the organs of Falun Gong adherents, and has censored the internet in China far more extensively than the U.S. has.

    I’ll readily agree that the U.S. is descending into dictatorship, and that its course must be altered as soon as possible. But it’s descending into what Communist China currently is. We should look at the CCP and demand that the U.S. government never morph into that, not compare it favorably with a U.S. government still tethered by the Constitution.

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