Hong Kong in Crisis: The Protesters' Battle with Beijing & the Chinese Communist Party (香港vs北京)
SPEAKER 1: If the investor lose confidence in Hong Kong and because of this ego bill, they know that Hong Kong will economically would also be destroyed. SPEAKER 2: One country, two systems. This was the political and legal framework created to govern Hong Kong when the territory returned to China after 150 years of British rule in 1997. Under this model, Hong Kong was given a special status which allowed the city a degree of autonomy, free speech and a free flow of information, all of which did not exist on the Chinese mainland. Over the two decades since the sovereign handover, Beijing chipped away to Hong Kong's independence. Each time, Hong Kong was pushed back. Detention had an apex this summer. It started in March when the Hong Kong government announced a bill that would allow any Hong Kong citizen and for an individual passing through Hong Kong to be extradited to China. This sparked a series of protests that have drawn upwards of 2 million people into the streets of this global financial center. The protesters have five core demands: full withdrawal of the extradition bill and independent commission to investigate alleged police brutality, retraction of the classification of protesters as rioters, amnesty for September 30th , 2019 - www.realvision.com 3 The Big Story – Tiananmen to Hong Kong: The Fight for Democracy arrested protesters and universal suffrage. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, withdrew the extradition bill in September but after all the police brutality that occurred, it was in the words of the protesters, too little too late. The people of Hong Kong want the remaining four demands met. The question now, how will Beijing and its leader, Xi Jinping, respond? ALEXANDER GORLACH: How this scenario would pan out is utterly unclear. I believe that Beijing has actually no interest in repeating Tiananmen's situation. However, President Xi has navigated himself into such a deadlock situation that it's that scotch-frankly, like I don't know how much choice he has. SPEAKER 2: Exactly 30 years ago, Chinese citizens took to Tiananmen Square in Beijing demanding greater democratic freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party. The results was a lethal crackdown by the Police Liberation Army and the massacre of thousands of peaceful protesters. The leaders of the movements then, as now, were students. One of them was Zhou Fengsuo. In the aftermath of the massacre, he would be labeled as number five of the 21 Most Wanted Student Leaders. ZHOU FENGSUO: I went to Tiananmen Square in the afternoon. I think I arrived at about 4pm. The moment I was there, I can smell the tear gas. I think this was the first time for me to smell tear gas. I knew this time, it's different. I realized this will be a long night. That time, I believe that Tiananmen Square, it was the center of the moment. It will be the most dangerous place. That's where I chose to stay. The real shooting actually began at about 9:30pm in the evening of June 3rd. As we were on Tiananmen Square, we heard gunshots coming from all sides of Beijing. It became really dense at about midnight. It was definitely like a war zone. We were at the center of the storm. Soldiers were pushing down from the top of the monument, of the stairs of the monument. They were pushing that. They were pointing guns and using sticks to beat us. That's how we left tenement Tiananmen Square. I was about the last one to leave on the south side. There was a nurse there. She saw my name tag with Ching Hua, she said there's a student from to Ching Hua who died there. She led me into this bicycle shed as there was no bicycle there, there were about 40 bodies on the tramp, many wrapped in white. That's where I saw Chung Ching[?]. The first one from Ching Hua, my school, who I knew who died there. That was a moment I would never forget. That's, for me, as a survivor, it's a duty for me to tell the world what I saw. SPEAKER 2: Speaking openly about the Tiananmen Square massacre is not only banned inside Mainland China, but many Chinese citizens have never even heard of the incident due to state censorship. In Hong Kong, however, June 4 th , 1989 is a date that is commemorated with candlelight vigils across the city. MICHAEL DAVIS: Hong Kong people very much have in their DNA an understanding that Tiananmen was a major event and so when there have been protests of half a million people on the street, a million people on the street were often thinking at what point does China start trying to come into Hong Kong? This thought occurred again with this recent extradition protest. It's in fact ongoing right now. September 30th , 2019 - www.realvision.com 4 The Big Story – Tiananmen to Hong Kong: The Fight for Democracy HELEN RALEIGH: There's going to be some crackdown sooner or later and the rest of us just wondering what crackdown is going to take place? Is it going to be like a Tiananmen style, or it's going to be something slightly different? MICHAEL DAVIS: China has intervened in Hong Kong to such an extent now that it can do what it wants without sending in the army. The way they control Hong Kong now pretty much does the job for them. I think they've almost turned the Hong Kong Police into a branch of the mainland police in a way. The police in Hong Kong are acting so out of character. Generally, they've been respected in Hong Kong. Now, they're these hardline guys who are using all kinds of abusive tactics. Beijing is using its hardline approach. SPEAKER 2: One important factor protecting Hong Kong is the city status as a global financial center, and specifically, China's reliance on Hong Kong to internationalize the Chinese currency, the renminbi also known as the yuan. HELEN RALEIGH: Because Hong Kong is the International Financial Center, over 75% of yuan, Chinese yuan dominated the transactions still are settled in Hong Kong. Even something happened, even the government tried to take a tournament style crackdown on Hong Kongers, we can easily see that with international sanction, China's going to lose that access to international financial market and a settled the yuan-based transaction. This will be not only hurt China economically, but also hurt their ambition because of the Chinese government really want to turn Chinese yuan into a US dollar style, or international reserve currencies. ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: I don't think that at this point, Beijing would crack down because to be honest, other cities just could not compete with Hong Kong. SPEAKER 2: Because China still relies on Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party may take a more measured approach in intervening in the semi-autonomous city. That doesn't mean Beijing has no options. The Hong Kong government, under the leadership of Carrie Lam, may activate an antiquated ordinance to restore order. JOSEPH YU SHEK CHENG: If the protest activities continue, then the government may be tempted to introduce the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which was an old ordinance established in 1922, in those days. This will give the government very widespread powers to arrest protesters, to denying them previous [inaudible], to close down media, and so on. MICHAEL DAVIS: A big debate has occurred because Carrie Lam has hinted that she might use this thing. Instead of sending in, there's two nuclear options or what I'm telling you, one is for Beijing to send in the PLA. The other is for Hong Kong to use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and issue these draconian regulations to stop public assemblies and everything. SPEAKER 2: Regardless of how Carrie Lam and her Hong Kong administration moved to contain the interest, Beijing's propaganda machine is already working overdrive. September 30th , 2019 - www.realvision.com 5 The Big Story – Tiananmen to Hong Kong: The Fight for Democracy HELEN RALEIGH: Couple of things that Beijing is doing after that are very similar to what they did back in 1989. One is to change the PR to have a PR war. When we saw Hong Kong, the 2 million people in Hong Kong peacefully protest back in June, there was no coverage about the peaceful protest in China. Basically, the state controlled it, the media did not report about a peaceful protest at all. As soon as some the young protesters vandalized the Hong Kong legislature office, once they have some images about violence, the Chinese media basically open the floodgates, they started to broadcast those images everywhere. They basically labeled those protesters as rioters, as violent, the hooligans. Those are very similar language the Chinese government used to describe pro-democracy students back in 1989. They used those language months before they eventually send the troops for the Tiananmen crackdown. ORVILLE SCHELL: Well, I think in both cases, the demonstrators have had their fill of the party sophistry and prevarication. In both cases, they got the ball rolling to the degree where they could do what they wanted to do and force the government in Beijing to listen to them. Of course, while they did that and they had a certain justification for doing it, what nobody accounted for was the ways in which that wounded the pride and deprived the government of a critical face that they depended on to maintain their rule and that when that happens with a Leninist party, it begs an inevitable response. The response came in 1989. I think it's inevitable that a similar response, maybe not absolutely like response, but a similar counter-response will come from Beijing in regard to Hong Kong. SPEAKER 2: Not only is the Chinese Communist Party using propaganda methods they used during Tiananmen to discredit the democracy movements in Hong Kong, they are also exporting current military tactics being used inside the Mainland to Hong Kong as well. HELEN RALEIGH: One of the protests recently, the Hong Kong police used the water cannons to shoot the protester back, but the water cannons, the water, they put it in blue dye. Because all the protesters wear black and a mask, so it's hard to identify. When they get hit with the blue dye water, it's very easy for them to be identified by the police. People quickly pointed out in Xinjiang, where right now, Chinese authorities basically put over several millions of [inaudible] in intern camps and those are the same tactics they used, to use a dyed water cannon to shoot at the protesters so they can identify who they are. SPEAKER 2: Hong Kong and Beijing are seemingly in a deadlock. Where do we go from here? MICHAEL DAVIS: We've reached a point in Hong Kong where it's very difficult to imagine how it can end with a restoration of the status quo. Xi Jinping in the Beijing government are very loathed to have to go into Hong Kong with, particularly with the PLA and maybe the people's armed police. Even so, I think they recognize this would be a terrible Rubicon to cross. Something could happen in Hong Kong, like a bomb could go off. There could be some major violent confrontation. We were edging ever closer urban guerrilla warfare. HELEN RALEIGH: We should have never, never rule out that if none of this works, a Tiananmen style crackdown, it's still possible. September 30th , 2019 - www.realvision.com 6 The Big Story – Tiananmen to Hong Kong: The Fight for Democracy ALEXANDER GORLAC: It's an ideological grip that Xi Jinping wants to hold over Hong Kong and he also wants the world to see that. Talking about what sacrifices is Xi Jinping willing to make, I would say you could, at least with some plausibility, think he's actually also willing to pay the ultimate price. However, I feel like the nonmilitary options are not yet fully used up. You have control over Hong Kong's electricity, Hong Kong's water, because it is a part of China, even though the protesters now say it's not. ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: I just see a really, really bad result if their bring in the PLA. Obviously, I don't want that to happen but I can foresee that is one possibility if Xi Jinping wants to reinforce his power over not just Hong Kong people but more like the other party that wants to take over his rule. He wants to show them that you can't mess with Hong Kong. This is my land. It's not as simple as just repressing the Hong Kong people. SPEAKER 2: The democracy movements in Hong Kong is not solely a Hong Kong issue. How the civil unrest resolves itself has repercussions far beyond the South China Sea. HELEN RALEIGH: Even the western democracies, especially United States, just lap Hong Kong fall like this, and with no support, is going to be considered a loss for the liberal order. It's going to be considered a win for the authoritarian model, and we're going to see there is going to define for decades to come, where the rest of the world is going to go. SPEAKER 2: No one can predict how the current democracy movements in Hong Kong will end. What is certain is that the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing will continue to evolve. For now, the political and economic destinies of these two very different societies are intertwined. ZHOU FENGSUO: Hong Kong will likely win their freedom through their fighting, it would be a long struggle, there's a long way to go. I don't think it would come tomorrow or in a few months. There are a lot of uncertainties, but I think Hong Kong will definitely win. There is no other choice. What happened in Tiananmen was a clear example that Chinese people love freedom, and they're willing to sacrifice for it. 30 years ago, the Communist Party and against all odds, seems invincible now. This is a very short time of history. It's just a blink of time. I think history is on our side.