The Hong Kong Protests: A View From Afar

It has been impressive, the courage of the protesters, the tenacity and creativity which with they have organized. The spark that set things off, the law that would have allowed for the extradition to the mainland of criminal suspects from Hong Kong, has been pulled back, and yet the protests have continued, making more demands from the Beijing appointed authorities governing Hong Kong.

Today, the protesters occupied the airport forcing the cancellation of flights.

How will it end? is the question in everyone’s mind.

What seems clear is that Xi Jinping will not make any concessions that jeopardize his control over the territory. He would prefer for the protests to die out and for the violence to cease but the dissidents are not giving any signs that that is their intention.

No one, Xi or anyone else, wants to see the repeat of Tiananmen Square 30 years ago this last June 4th.

Does the leadership of the movement have the capacity to redirect the energies of the protesters? If it does this is the time to use it so that the violence is turned down. Could they, for instance, change strategy and aim for concessions allowing political bodies run by the mainland to grant greater representation to the people of Hong Kong?

The protest organizers’ surely realize that continued violence will not advance their cause and instead invite brutal repression.

Should that happen the world may stand in solidarity with the protesters but the victims will remain victims.

Trade with China may pause briefly but eventually will continue, and the dead will not be brought back.

Hong Kong today retains economic value to the mainland – it has the 4th richest stock market, right behind Japan – but eventually that value will be transferred to the mainland. It’s a matter of time.

But there’s something unique about the struggle of the protesters. And it’s their yearning for a voice, their thirst for their freedom.

The rest of China, under the thumb of Xi Jinping and the party, must be looking at Hong Kong and, in the recesses of their minds and hearts, realize that one day they would like to have the freedom to express themselves. In the recesses of their heart and minds, they must be envying the courage of the protesters from Hong Kong, even if they may deride them in public, because deep down, every Chinese person, like every man or woman on this earth, wants to have the choice to be free.

Trump and Xi will continue with the trade war but Hong Kong should not be part of it.

Hong Kong’s protests are about the aspirations of every human being.

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