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Hongkong: The West Again Miscalculated

Updated on June 4, 2020
emge profile image

An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.

Background

The island of Hong Kong is very much in the news these days as the Chinese disregarding the agreement with the British have decided to integrate Hong Kong more closely with the mainland. A contentious security bill has been cleared by the Chinese government which will apply all Chinese laws to Hong Kong and could also mean the deportation of people to the mainland.

Hong Kong became a crown colony in 1842. This was after the First Opium War fought between the British and imperial China. The British transported Indian troops to China to fight and they decisively defeated the imperial army. Hong Kong was then ceded to Britain by China.

In 1896 other areas and hundreds of islands were ceded to England by the Chinese who at that time was militarily and economically weak. A 99-year lease was signed between China and Great Britain. Britain continued to have unfettered control of Hongkong till 1941 when it was occupied by the Japanese. In 1945 after the defeat of Japan the Hong Kong islands reverted to British rule.

Momentous events were taking place in China with the civil war which saw the emergence of the Communist Party as the main ruler on the mainland. That is the first time China laid claim to Hong Kong.

After the Korean War, the western world was in dread of communism and they were looking for ways and means to create a schism in the Communist movement. The western world thought that the best bet was to placate China. They, therefore, allowed China to go nuclear in 1964.

After the departure of Lyndon Johnson, the next President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger thought that they could bring China into the world polity of nations and at the same time the hegemony of the United States and the Western power would continue.

This was extremely fallacious thinking but it dictated the future course of action. In 1984 the British began talks with China to hand over Hong Kong once the lease expired.

The British were extremely naive in thinking that China will honor the agreement which they were agreeing. The agreement stipulated that the capitalist society and democracy of Hong Kong would be preserved by China for 50 years. China also began to propagate the concept of one country-two system.

All this was an eyewash but the British swallowed the Chinese promises hook, line, and sinker. The colony was handed back to China and for two decades we have seen the Chinese generally allowed Hong Kong to continue its system. However, there was growing undercurrent for independence, and China cracked down.

The Western powers are now powerless to enforce the agreement entered into by China with Great Britain and all they can do is to give statements. This should have been known to the western world. It is a surprise that the western world thought that they could do business with China and share the sun with that nation.

The Problem now

China is a Marxist Leninist country. Though it has the facet of capitalism it is a communist country which is a one-party rule and dictatorship. At the time when China signed on the dotted line for one country two systems, it was known to most of the historians that this agreement would not be worth the paper on which it is written. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher who was the Prime Minister in 1984 when the negotiations for the transfer of Hong Kong began should have been more alert. At that stage, if America and the United Kingdom had decided to grant independence to Hong Kong it would have probably been the better solution.

But the Western think tank at that time believed that it was better to engage with China than to have a confrontation. They assumed that China would honor all its agreements and once China was inducted into the world committee of nations it would become a responsible member.

Many top Indian historians have commented that China always considered itself to be the center of the world. The Chinese were also resentful of the fact that for close to 150 years the western world including Japan had exploited them to the extreme. They have always felt that the historical wrongs have to be set right. In contrast, the Western leaders thought that China once is given its due in world affairs, it will be a responsible member of the world community of nations and will not be aggressive. They assumed that China would be grateful and help the western world to continue its domination.

Thus we see a string of American presidents from Johnson to Clinton treating China with kid gloves. The Chinese were extremely clever as they were able to take over technology from the western world and do reverse engineering and make their duplicates. Same time China was building up its military might and now has the largest military force in the world. China has also started exerting itself and almost the entire South China Sea has become a Chinese preserve. This would not have happened without the connivance of the United States. The American think tank assumed that China would be more interested in trade and better lot of its people and there was no harm in letting China have their say in the South China Sea.

When the entire South China Sea had been almost occupied by China, President Duterte the President of the Philippines made a very telling comment when he said that if the Americans were serious in stopping the Chinese they could have sent five aircraft carriers into the South China Sea and nipped everything in the bud. It didn't happen that way and the Chinese and Americans continue to have more trade with the balance of payments inordinately in favor of China.

China also copied Western technology which they got free and in no time it became the number two power. From the time Hong Kong was handed over to China, the Chinese slowly began to undermine all the institutions of Hong Kong. It is a wonder that the British thought that the Chinese will keep their promise of 50 years. What was the basis of their promise or faith in China is not understood but the real fact is that Britain at that time was militarily very weak and reliant on the United States and the United States had decided China wants to be our friend so it was like the catch 22 situation.

One is reminded that when the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre took place the American president at that time was Bush senior and he did not condemn the massacre.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China decided that it would have to have a stronger centralized government. It is a moot point as to how many years more China will take to completely integrate Hong Kong with the mainland.

Epilogue

There is an old saying that the birds come home to roost. This is precisely what has happened to the western world who put all their eggs in the China basket but they have become rotten. They have now realized that China cannot be trusted. Its action during the spread of the China virus has brought to the fore the malicious approach of the Chinese regime and America has lost over a hundred thousand dead in just four months. One has only to compare the casualties suffered during the various wars by America to realize the enormity of the number of deaths in America.

The Western world is also on a weak wicket as far as Hong Kong is concerned. To my mind, Hong Kong may well within the next 3 to 4 years likely to be integrated as a province of China. The USA and UK will not be able to do anything because China is now economically also fairly strong and any sanctions against China will have a reverse effect also.

Western Europe which had thought that it could ride piggyback on the Chinese market and the Chinese labor force has now been reduced to penury. The economy of Spain and Italy is destroyed. Even the United States has astronomical numbers of unemployed while China because of its dictatorship and censorship supported by the Gun has been able to marshal its resources much better.

The entire world is now extremely angry with China. But my question is what are they going to do? many in the western world still feel there is no harm in re-engaging with China. At the moment the only man holding the sword against China is the American president Donald Trump. Americans have been talking of the Russian connection but in my opinion, it is China they must be wary of because China would be very happy in case Donald Trump is defeated. It must also be noted that most of the Western European nations like Italy and Spain have said nothing against China because their economy is dependent on China and they would perhaps be looking for a way out as to how they can re-engage with China so that they can survive and live.

This is what Marx called the decadent society of the West and unless something superhuman happens it is not going to be easy to contain China. As far as Hong Kong is concerned the West might as well forget about it and try and salvage at least the independence of Taiwan because the Chinese have been making a devious plan to take over the island.

In hindsight, one can see that the decision of the Americans to allow China to go nuclear and also to capture Tibet and the South China Sea were momentous decisions that spelled doom for them. It is not understood how men could form such opinions about China without realizing the true nature of China.

However, things cannot continue and history has a method of leveling. China is it an advantage because it holds the purse strings of Western Europe. Much of the position which China has achieved is entirely due to the complicity of the United States. it will be interesting to watch how Donald Trump who is blowing hot and cold against China will be able to collar the communist regime.

Comments

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    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      2 weeks ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Siddharth, for commenting

    • Siddharth Shankar V profile image

      Siddharth Shankar V 

      2 weeks ago from India

      A very good article

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Clive, thank you for sparing time and commenting.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      4 weeks ago from Jamaica

      Nations are filled with Greed these days. Leaders are insane reptilians feeding on the flesh of the nation.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      4 weeks ago from Florida

      @Flourish

      "Since the Coronavirus our cable news stations like CNN can only cover one topic at a time. First it was Coronavirus 24/7 then the protests. What we miss is the rest of the news like Hong Kong, earthquakes, and all the other stuff. "

      That is exactly what is intended... keep the American population in the dark about most things and manipulate it with propaganda while bombarding it with Ads to purchase more junk.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Chitra, nice of you to have commented. We are passing through a state flux and just awaiting what will happen next.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      A good read and an interesting perspective.

      So much is happening in the World, unfortunately only unpleasant news, all around.

      The World order might change, but right now everything seems uncertain. The countries of the World have a huge and difficult task to fix their economies first, once this pandemic is over.

      Thank you for sharing another engaging article.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Flourish, thanks, cable operators will always worry about TRP ratings. I think if you watch BBC or CNN -international you will get the news.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Ruby, thanks, I am pained at what all is happening.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      Since the Coronavirus our cable news stations like CNN can only cover one topic at a time. First it was Coronavirus 24/7 then the protests. What we miss is the rest of the news like Hong Kong, earthquakes, and all the other stuff. This is important yet it’s barely mentioned.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      Who knows what's coming down the pike? The world is in turmoil. I wonder if anyone or anything can fix it. Interesting read.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Ken, China's rise was not anticipated by anybody. Add to it they are ruthless and that is the reason they have a mindboggling 2016 executions in 2018. In 2012 they had over 10000. Hongkong has no chance and now its utility to China is much less( economically). Whatever his faults, Trump remains the best bet to contain China. but you are right he is encircled with all this violence. Can't think it is justified with its byproduct of looting.

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 weeks ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Pamela, China has surprised the world with its rise. For all her acumen Ms. Thatcher lost out finally as the dragon now gobbles Hongkong.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      4 weeks ago from Florida

      I don't think Thatcher or anyone else would have believed that China would become the world's leading Industrial & Economic Nation by 2020.

      In less than 40 years...Hong Kong went from having 3x the GDP of China, to Hong Kong now being only 3% of China's GDP.

      China wants to clamp down on Western Influence and opposition to the CCP from any faction, within or without.

      Hong Kong is part of China... Hong Kong's independence will not be recognized by China, they will not be allowed to remain separate.

      A wise person would move themselves and their wealth out of Hong Kong while they can. No one will be coming to Hong Kong's rescue.

      Not now... not with the Lock Downs, economic crisis, social unrest throughout America and Europe.. China knows Trump's hands are tied, too much unrest in America, elections coming up, little more than saber rattling will occur.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      China has certainly been a problem for many countries and I agree with all of the facts in your article. I think China would be very happy if Trump loses the election. President Trump has said several things about the horrible way China handled the virus but I don't know if he will do anything. He has his hands full right now anyway.

      I have also seen how hard the people in Hong Kong fight the Chinese but I can't see how they can win either. This is a very good article, MG.

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