It must have seemed so simple.
As the world was transfixed on Islamic State, the Chinesw Communist Party could pull its long expected dodge on the people of Hong Kong. Universal suffrage would be granted as promised, but when it came to the city’s Chief Executive (i.e., Mayor), only candidates vetted by Zhongnanhai would be allowed to run. It was a scheme the mullahs if Iran have used for years, so there was no reason their chief ally and benefactor couldn’t borrow it.
There was just one problem: Iranians caught on to the scheme and took to the streets in 2009. Somehow, the CCP missed that part, but the people of Hong Kong didn’t. The city is still at a standstill as I write, although the Comnunist-run city police are beefing up for a crackdown (Taipei Times).
There is so much to say about the bravery of ordinary Hong Kong citizens, and the utter uselessness of the leaders of the democratic world who have chosen to all but ignore them. One thing should be clear, however: democracy – long a battered and bruised concept to the modern elite – is still pretty popular. Conventional Wisdom has held for decades that the CCP figured out how to do authoritarianism right, and that the money-mad people of HK would go along eagerly. Instead, the city has been a constant political headache for the regime – and has even inspired much quieter Macau to speak up for itself.
As for the CCP, they’re in a tricky spot. Sure, a crackdown would probably be enough to keep the people quiet (for now), but Taiwan – long the real prize for the regime – holds its own presidential election in less than 18 months. The pro-independence, anti-Communist Democrat Progressive Party (full disclosure: my endorsee for the last three presidential votes), is already in good political position. The more blood on the streets of HK, the more votes for the DPP.
Finally, I must address the near complete silence in the democratic world. It’s painful to watch, albeit not a surprise.
As for conclusions, it is too early to draw any. We can only hope that out fears will not be confirmed, but we must prepare for them, and remember that this is what tyrants do, and it’s why we should do our utmost to help the peoples they oppress get rid of them.