Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist

Hong Kong protests: what’s at stake for China? | The Economist

This protester calls himself “Bruce’’ We’ve hidden his face and obscured his voice to protect his identity He’s one of the millions of Hong Kongers taking to the streetsMany people here are wearing face masksPeople are hiding their identitiesThey fear that the government will press chargesWhat started as a protest against an extradition bill… …has become the most serious challenge… …to the Communist Party’s authority… …since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago As the demonstrations enter a third month… …neither the government nor the protesters is willing to back downPolice fire tear gas, rubber bullets……and use their police baton to hit the protestersBut it’s not enough to deter the demonstrators So what happens now?This is a real nightmare for the Communist government in BeijingThey can either crush Hong Kong……or they can tolerate being defied……in a way that undermines everything……about their whole structure of governmentThey have no good choicesHong Kong is one of the most important financial centres in the world And it has a unique status It’s a city in China but it’s not entirely Chinese It has its own currency… …its own passport… …its own legal system There’s even a boundary between Hong Kong and the rest of China… …and you need a permit to cross it This is all down to its history In 1842 Hong Kong was ceded by the Chinese to the British… …after the first Opium War But in 1997 Britain gave it back to ChinaHong Kong people are to run Hong KongWith one important condition… …for 50 years Hong Kong was to be governed… …under what is known as “one country, two systems” The chief executive who runs Hong Kong… …would be appointed by a pro-Chinese committee But the city was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy… …with its own government, legal system… …and economic independence until 2047 Over the past decade those rights have been eroded Fuller democracy, promised as part of the handover agreement… …has yet to be granted by ChinaYellow ribbon means come back, come back democracyEmily Lau was a Hong Kong politician for 25 years Today she still campaigns for democracyThings have deteriorated fast……particularly since President Xi Jinping came to powerSo people are very concernedWe want freedoms, we want personal safety……we want the rule of lawChina’s grip has got ever tighter In 2012 the government tried to install… …a patriotic pro-Chinese education system Then five Hong Kong booksellers… …who sold material banned in mainland China disappeared In 2016 pro-democracy opposition leaders… …were thrown out of Hong Kong’s parliament… …for insulting China when swearing their oaths And then in February this year… …the government introduced a bill… …which would have allowed extradition to the mainlandVery few people in Hong Kong imagine there’s going to be……full-on, Western-style democracyBut they are very angry about the way that……what they believe they were promised……was something much more accountable where……you’d have something close to universal suffrageThe basic social contract……between the people of Hong Kong and their government is breaking downAll this is fuelling the protesters’ angerThe invisible hand from China……are getting more visibleThey are putting more controls on Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracyHong Kong is not ChinaPeople will say to you, “We know that 2047 is coming one day……but we don’t want it to happen now”As the protests get larger and more violent… …the chance of China intervening increases Beijing has made thinly veiled threats to send in its military forces… …the People’s Liberation ArmyThose who play with fire will perish by itAt the end of the day, they will eventually be punishedA few weeks ago nobody seriously thought……we could see another Tiananmen Square in Hong KongNow you can’t rule it outIn 1989 a student demonstration in Beijing ended in massacre Hundreds, maybe thousands, were shot dead For the Chinese government… …the Hong Kong demonstrators are defying the authority… …of a Communist leadership that cannot tolerate defianceFor President Xi Jinping……his kind of north and south, his east and west, is the absolute authority……and total control of the Chinese Communist PartyAnd anything that threatens that must be crushedThey are afraid that it could be very infectious……and they don’t want to see such marches……in the other parts of mainland ChinaAnother fear is some protesters’ demand for full independence But military intervention would be a very risky strategy for BeijingHong Kong for all its woes……is still a very rich world financial centreTo roll troops into that kind of financial centre……would be an economic catastropheIn 1993 Hong Kong’s GDP accounted for… …more than a quarter of mainland China’s Today China’s remarkable rise means that Hong Kong’s… …economic output makes up less than 3% of the mainland’s But Hong Kong remains important for China Multinationals use it as a launch pad to the mainland… …and it gives Chinese companies access to the rest of the worldSo we are very specialWe are a window for China to look to the outside world……as an international city with all our connectionsIt’s very valuable to ChinaSo how the turmoil is resolved matters to more… …than just the people of Hong KongThe government there said the People’s Liberation Army may be deployedBut if that’s the case, the game is overIf China uses lethal force……then you would see an economic crashThere’s 85,000 American expatriates in Hong KongYou would see them fleeing for the airportThis all comes at a time when China and America… …are waging a trade and technology war Bloodshed on Hong Kong’s streets… …would make relations deteriorate even further Beijing is now blaming outsiders for the troubleWe’ve seen remarkably explicit……state-media commentaries telling the people of China……that these protests are not just radical and violent……but are also orchestrated by foreign forcesThe Chinese government resolutely opposes……any foreign forces attempts to intervene in Hong Kong affairsFor the Chinese Communist leadership……what’s happening in Hong Kong is evidence……that as China rises as one of the world’s most powerful countries……that the West is using every means possible to divide and to frustrate ChinaFor China the situation has become much more than a dispute over a law It’s become an existential threat Bruce and the other protesters are holding their breathI still worry what happens next……because the situation could deteriorate very rapidlyChina’s Communist rulers must choose between two mortal dangers… …the collapse of economic stability and prosperity… …or the acceptance that protests can limit the Party’s absolute power

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Join us today at 1pm GMT for a live Q&A with Robert Guest, The Economist’s foreign editor, and Anna Bucks, this film's producer who will be answering your questions about the Hong Kong protests. Here's the link to see it: https://econ.st/31O1rpu

  2. As usual lots of Western propaganda trying to suppress the rise of an alternative world power besides America. What is interesting is how these young people in Hong Kong are just totally brainwashed and have lost their Chinese identity. So sad and congratulations to the Western media for doing a great job. Lets wait for the next chapter of events.

  3. Other than gaining the support and sympathies of the western nations , if of course they are not the instigators to start with…..what could HK possibly gain by freeing themselves from mainland China .Then there is the matter of strategic and National Security , I cannot possibly see China giving the West another foothold around the China seas

  4. i don't think the CCP has to worry about protests spreading to the mainland because they have total control of the media there. People on the mainland probably think they're terrorists

  5. Do you timber the BLACK DATH carries in ROUME 1875 will it BACK so c go HOME and stay out of the KINGS TOWER'S IN Hong kong China's can't handle it the BLACK DATH cures is going to DESTROY the North Korean Armey and RUCHSA ARMEY i and the Chinese chalice ourdicks is not a JOKE the westniel and the blue clouer and then THE BLACK deaths cures is going to be caning to the riches and power full kings empiers

  6. Hong Kong is doomed. Hong Kong small, PRC big & with no restraint by morality when it comes to maintaining it's power. Protesters/dissidents should flee now, or embrace probably being executed or disappeared into those infamous 'black jails' once the inevitable crackdown comes.

    No-one is able or willing to come to Hong Kong's rescue, as shitty as that is to acknowledge. I hate to say it but protesters who insist on staying are choosing a losing battle.

  7. I hope Hong Kong people win and China gets what is coming to them. You can only suppress the people for so long before they strike back. A cornered dog will bite. I think all foreign citizens should leave Hong Kong, for that have a bigger impact compared to the protests. China doesn't want to lose its window to the world, but their actions shouldn't be tolerated. Let their window close for their actions are too much.

  8. the economist. the same people pushing the gender wage gap myth. NOT a credibe nor a reliable news source. fake news… nexxxxxxt

  9. I just can't understand why western media are so obsessed with pompous words like democracy, freedom, total control and rule of law. For god's sake these things have never existed on this planet for even a second.

  10. Interesting that there are many comments equating what's happening in HK to the United Kingdom being composed of 4 countries. Also interesting that all of these are comments are from Chinese accounts. The comparison is a false equivilence on many levels. The opposition against China isnt fundementally about the existence of a union between HK and China, but about the nature of the union itself and the way China is managing the union. The UK has a parliment where each country is equally represented, and there is every reason to believe the UK would honour a vote for independance. The Uk is a system based off mutual gain and a shared history and identity; the China/HK relationship is based on threats and compulsion to the inevitability expansion of China.

    It is usually quite interesting when Chinese people spam a comments section, because their views are so out of touch with reality and usually the Chinese all have the same viewpoints. I dont know if the CHinese government hires people to do it in order to sow confusion into the argument, or if the Chinese people really are that controlled by their government.

  11. It's China's territory, they should move in and take it back. Hong Kong contributes only 3% to the Chinese economy. The protest should be crushed.

  12. I think the main protection Hong-Kongnese wear is that we see them as Westerners. The military occupation of Hong-Kong might trigger stronger reactions than the Russian invasion of Crimea. China may withstand a trade war with the US; but the Communist Party would suffer greatly, if US-allies supported the sanctions policy.

  13. China is an incredible society with thousands of years of history. I do not harbor any animosity towards ethnic Chinese, only the communist party that hijacked their country.

  14. HK is special because it is a gateway for mainland China. But , also China can build gateway elsewhere, but HK don't have an alternative way out.

    Also WHAT DOES SHE MEAN about independence of HK, as a country? or as the colony of UK.

  15. I am so amazed that these people wants freedom they never had from the British Government. Now the Chinese government gave them fully independence and they bite… Tell me what is hypocrisy

  16. The united states is going to have a proxy war with China. Sure Hong Kong is the loudest thing on the news currently but there are major brewing wars about to happen. 2.2bil in arms sold and just ok'd the sale of 8bil for 66 F-16V block 70 and 72.

  17. China is bullying south east asian countries specially the Philippines and might trigger a war against its ally (USA, JAPAN, Australia etc.) But China is now poisoning itself by pursuing Hong Kong and Taiwan. Moreover, do the loyalty of PLA is unquestionable? If yes, is there loyalty goes to the PRC or the government?
    If China will be able to take over Hong Kong will it not affect China's economy as well?

  18. Fat Albert.
    Are you disappointed the China is getting better and better every day. Against your predictions and expectations?

  19. 我们认为香港很珍贵,香港同胞很重要,但唾弃港独,港独份子不要自视甚高,你代表不了香港,你不过是寄生在香港这片土地上,在蚕食、破坏这片珍贵的土地

  20. Rumor has it that Xi is facing opposition from within the the party itself over this mess. Perhaps they now regret making him dictator for life. What goes around comes around.

  21. Leftists throwing in with communist China yet again. China has always been a paper tiger and is now at nearly zero growth rate, has massive debt, punishing tariffs. Trump should be surrounding China with nuclear and conventional weapons to starve the fascist Xi Ping out. Xi Ping's are just waiting for an opportunity to take him out in a coup. The sooner the better!

  22. It is better that hongkees demonstrate everyday and every now and then for the next 1 year, or 3 years or forever, and hongkong will shine and prosperous with protest.

  23. Jack and the Bean Stock. Well, there was a goose name Hong, and it laid golden eggs all the way to Kong. The greedy giant thought eh owned the world, but he fell fell fell.

  24. The American people are really pathetic and sad. They have been brainwashed by politicians and the media all their lives. The Chinese people often laugh at the questions of some ignorant Americans about democracy and freedom. Every time American politicians began to use "democracy" in the House of Representatives and the Senate to decide to start a war, American arms dealers began to sell arms freely. The media are free to broadcast false news.

  25. The fact is that the person who blocked the tank at the Tiananmen Square incident was not injured or punished at all. He fled to a foreign country to discredit China as a job.Hong Kong people simply don't deserve our use of force. They are destroying their own homeland. Hong Kong's taxation does not give China a penny. I want to say that Hong Kong is a Chinese Hong Kong, not only Hong Kong people's Hong Kong. If you don't want to be a Chinese, please leave Hong Kong and take your house away, the land needs to be left

  26. 打倒 中國 共産黨! Ner med det kinesiska kommunistpartiet! Abajo el partido comunista chino! يسقط الحزب الشيوعي الصيني! 타도 중국 공산당 개새끼들! Abaixo o Partido Comunista Chinês! Bumaba sa Partido Komunista ng Tsina! Turun dengan Partai Komunis Tiongkok! 中国共産党とともに! ลงไปกับพรรคคอมมิวนิสต์จีน! Đả đảo Đảng Cộng sản Trung Quốc! پایین با حزب کمونیست چین! A bas le parti communiste chinois! Κάτω από το Κινεζικό Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα! Nieder mit der Kommunistischen Partei Chinas!! אַראָפּ מיט די כינעזיש קאָמוניסט פארטיי! Долой Коммунистическую партию Китая! Chini na Chama cha Kikomunisti cha China! சீன கம்யூனிஸ்டுகளை அழிக்கவும்! Destruír aos comunistas chineses! Dolje sa Komunističkom partijom Kine! Nede med det kinesiske kommunistparti! Destroy Chinese Communists bastards! Weg met de Chinese Communistische Partij! Musnahkan Komunis China! چيني ڪميونسٽ پارٽي سان گڏ! Abbasso il Partito Comunista Cinese! چيني ڪميونسٽ پارٽي سان گڏ! S Čínskou komunistickou stranou! ລົງກັບພັກຄອມມິວນິດຈີນ! Txov suav liab nplog! Долу с Китайската комунистическа партия! Nede med det kinesiske kommunistpartiet! တရုတ်ကွန်မြူနစ်ပါတီနှင့်အတူဆင်း! Seres Communists perdere! Whakangaromia nga Hainamana Tiamana! Destrueix els comunistes xinesos! 屌 何君堯;! 屌 共産黨 獨裁! 屌 人民日報! 屌 CCTV! 屌 Global Times! 屌 中國夢! 屌 一帶一路! 屌 中国制造2025! 屌 普通话! 臺灣 獨立萬歲! 革命時代! 香港萬歲!

  27. 6:25 Yes HK used to be a hub for MNCs to spring board into China but no more. Year by year working in a logistic company I am seeing MNCs moving their operations direct into Mainland China skipping HK all the way.

  28. July 1, 1898 The mainland of Hong Kong was RENT by the United Kingdom, where 99 years later MUST BE RETURNED to China, if it is not returned then Britain will be charged a very high fine by China, want to be hired again, the UK has no more money — hence according to the agreement , UK FINALLY FORCED TO RESTORE Hong Kong —- the process of negotiating Hong Kong's return had already taken place in the Deng Xiaoping era, Deng wanted to win the hearts of Hong Kong citizens and also at the same time let the citizens of Hong Kong NOT be FATED and PANIC with Chinese state regulations, then by Deng MADE POLICY 1 country, 2 systems, THAT APPLYED for 50 years (ending in 2047) to strengthen the sincerity of Deng's decision, the Declaration of 1 country 2 system by China, signed by the United Kingdom.

    So the 1 country policy 2 system is NOT a requirement set by the United Kingdom, but that is China's own policy, so that Hong Kong citizens DO NOT BE AWARE of Chinese regulations – OF COURSE China as its parent country is entitled to interfere in the administration of its territory which is given SPECIAL RIGHTS. by himself (by China Himself).

    Naaah, in the next 50 years, China will apply the same rules as other regions in the Administrative Region in particular (Hong Kong) so that in 2047 Hong Kong citizens will be able to adapt to Chinese culture and regulations, as the main country.

    So, yeah, China is a not wrong and not a violator of the agreement, Hong Kong is de facto and de jure, it's PRIVATE

  29. "From time to time, the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants"

    China is the new 1930s Germany, they are one of the biggest threat to world peace, and the world is watching idly by, as they begin to Crack Down on Hong Kong. They will tighten their grip on Hk, and then move on

  30. China does not need Hong Kong economically. Its functions can be taken over by Shanghai and elsewhere. China can let Hong Kong wither on the vine so that it becomes a Chinese Disneyland for tourists. Do HK people want that?

  31. Universal suffrage has never been present in HK. What does it mean by "contract"? Learn some basic facts please. Is this really The Economist?

  32. The west is about to lose this trade war. Hong Kong and Taiwan is their last chance. Kick it into overdrive! ahh the desperation..SMH . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzIJ25ob1aA

  33. Violent or not Hong Kong will not fall to the communists. The police are traitors to their own people when even they will be cleansed after a Chinese takeover.

  34. People in various social media are becoming extremely misleading regarding matters in Hong Kong, due to being quite misinformed themselves. So, I'm gonna write a short essay to clear things up once and for all.

    So, basically, the extradition laws were set up before Hong Kong's return to China. It excluded Macau, Taiwan and the Mainland due to worries that the extradition bill may be abused and may affect Hong Kong's high judicary standards.

    The amendments made earlier this year basically attempted to add Macau, Taiwan and Mainland China to "patch loopholes". This is what sparked the mass protests, and here I will list different sparks in detail:

    – The amendments could have only included Taiwan, but for no reason at all had to include both Macau and Mainland China. Suspicion was aroused.

    – The amendment excluded 10+ financial crimes from being eligible for extradition in order to gain support from merchants, which is kinda ironic.

    – Crimes punishable by death (murder in Taiwan) cannot be eligible for extradition, deeming the excuses for the amendment invalid.

    – There are various alternatives and better ways to serve justice, e.g. including murder in Hong Kong's extraterritorial jurisdiction

    So, basically, we've proved the amendment is bogus. And now, why protests have heated up so much since the June 9th and June 16th protests of 1mil and 2mil people respectively.

    – Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region. Its rule under China is special, and must adhere to the promises made in the 1984 Sino-British declaration. Since the Causeway Bookstore Incident in 2015, China has been known for being "slick", so most people believed the amendment bill would just be used to rob us of autonomy and the few democratic rights we currently enjoy. (e.g. facilitating the extradition of political criminals for crimes eligible for extradition)

    – After the largest protests in Hong Kong's history happened 2 weekends in a row, the HKSAR government failed to answer and fulfil Hongkongers' requests. Therefore, more people came out to support the stance.

    – Police abused semi-lethal riot gear according to UN regulations. They also failed to protect the safety of citizens in Yuen Long Station during the July 21st triad terrorist attacks there.

    – China has regarded the matters in Hong Kong as "domestic politics"; meanwhile, the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration proves otherwise.

    – Police have abused their prosecuting power and force multiple times, without having to face any inquiries, let alone penalties. This infuriated many in Hong Kong.

    This should give a basic understanding to anyone who doesn't understand what's happening in Hong Kong right now. If I've made any mistakes, please notify me and I shall make the appropriate amendments.

  35. Singaporeans are more or less satisfied with their authoritarian government, in CCP administered Shenzhen people are enjoying the fruits of opportunity and economic growth. Macau the other SAR has minimal tensions with Beijing. Lets not kid ourselves that this discontent is due to an economy which is not working well for all HKers. The problem in HK is economic not political, pre-1997 hardly anyone complained that the Governor was a white man appointed from London as HK people were too busy enjoying a prospering economy. The rise of the mainland has challenged this. I am willing to bet that a pro-democracy movement will not enjoy mainstream support of the economy was performing as well as it did in the 1980's and 1990's.


  37. I think China will create a giant jail complex at a HK-China border and will imprison all the protestors. Which will start a mass exodus from HK.

  38. I am from Hong Kong and as you can see, they ONLY interviewed anti-China individuals. This is a very one sided documentary. I hope you don't get influenced by this video and that you will create your own opinion over this topic. I am definitely not pro China but as a Hongkonger I can clearly say that some of those protesters are using "evil" ways to demonstrate.

  39. Yes because he’s a fucking CIA they are behind all the trouble in the world and UN and NATO E U UK are all in it

  40. Cannot understand why china still wan the hk? Hk people dont like the china specially the new generation…hk people cannot take it anymore the china..shame china….

  41. No doubt the CIA and western media are playing a crucial role in all this. Misguided young people actually waving American flags, pushing their luck until China is forced to intervene. The mainstream media calls this chaos “pro-democracy.” Ridiculous!!

  42. Maybe the Economist should show videos that some protesters waving the UK or even US national flags, which is just weird.

  43. The whole world forget how Britain invaded China and took over Hongkong: through Opium War. How come a drug dealer treat Hongkong like the way they treat British people. Now British government support Hongkong to get "democracy"? What a fucking joke! Shame on you drug dealer Britain!

  44. So sad that the Government wants to hold on to absolute power so bad that they would consider sending the military in than giving up some of that power.

  45. My love and support to you from Kashmir where exactly same is happening and India isn't even allowing any media coverage to surface by blocking the internet as well as any and all forms of communication.

  46. Everybody must respect Chian and chinese people, so hongkong will together with their motherland face the problem now.

  47. For all the stupid people who think that China is haven and the United States is hell,
    look at how Hong Kong fights for freedom and democracy.
    USA, USA, USA.

  48. Hong Kong protestors are violent ,not peaceful at all.They burnt a police car,they threw gasoline bombs at police men who subsequently got severly burned,they broke into the government building of legislation and waved british flags during the protesting.ask yourself,are there any western countries can call this kind of protest peaceful.You blind yourself by your ideology,and tell lies to the whole world so flippantly!

  49. Whoever doesn't like Hong Kong political system, get the fuck out from there.move to wherever u like.bur don't do crazy protest like this.

  50. I think China will keep their cool as long as they can, to show outside world that they still respect freedom of speech. What happen with HK today is what will happen to Taiwan if they decide to join/surrender their country to one China with two systems. I hope things will work out well between China & HK.

  51. Hong Kong is like a child adopted by a rich family so they did not care about receiving any manipulation but imagine that they are superior. Right now they come back to poor blood parents home , ask more and blame their failure to others, despise their brothers and confuse to be who they really are.

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