James Carafano joined Fox News, Thursday, August 15, to talk about the Hong Kong protests, how China’s reaction shows it doesn’t care about its people, and the need for the Trump administration to hold the Chinese accountable for any military intervention.
James Carafano: What Hong Kong unrest tells us about China’s plans for the rest of the world
There is no question that Beijing is waging a war on nerves. Last month, it assembled troops and equipment along the border with Hong Kong. They’ve also begun airing footage of troops training for suppressing riots in urban settings.
This all speaks volumes about the callous cynicism with which the Chinese government treats its own people. The Hong Kong police are already doing Beijing’s dirty work for them (helped, to be fair, by protestors and agitators who have crossed the line and become violent or destructive).
As long as “pro-democracy” demonstrations don’t spread to the mainland cities, Beijing might not be too concerned to see Hong Kong’s stature as a stable and dependable place to do business diminished. Hong Kong just doesn’t mean near as much to the Chinese economy as it did 20 years ago. Besides, the Chinese would rather see investment flow to mainland cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai that are more firmly under the regime’s control. As for the welfare and future of the people of Hong Kong, that is the last thing Beijing cares about.
Most mainland Chinese seem indifferent about the protests. Many are jealous of the privileges long enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong. Rather than press for similar freedoms, they are happy to see the islanders brought down a notch. This is yet more evidence that the hope that opening up China to the world would encourage Beijing to integrate smoothly into an equitable and liberal rules-based order is little more than magical thinking.
Finally, there are lessons for the rest of us. China’s encroachment on Hong Kong represents yet another in a long string of promises broken by the communist regime. They have violated their commitments to U.N. Convention on the Law Seas, violated U.N. sanctions (which they voted for) against North Korea and delivered debt and corruption (rather than the promised prosperity) through their vaunted Belt and Road economic “initiative.”
Beijing has a well-deserved rep for playing fast and loose with the rules as it tries to bully its way to the top—and its actions with Hong Kong only reinforce that reputation.
Nothing reflects the contemptuous attitude of the Chinese more than its prosperous propaganda claim that the Hong Kong demonstrations were engineered by the CIA. They know no right-thinking person in the world would believe this, but they don’t care. They know that the people of China will accept this explanation (after all, they’ll hear no other), and that’s all they want.
China is acting like a global bully. Like most bullies, it will continue to do so—until the world stops tolerating Beijing’s intolerable behavior.
Hong Kong is a warning to the world. The world ought to take notice.
James Jay Carafano is the director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies and Vice President of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Carafano is also an adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics.