Is Tianenman 2.0 inevitable?

From Jude Blanchette at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at the AFR:

Some argue that Beijing will ultimately refrain from the use of violence due to a concern over its global reputation or domestic blowback. Kerry Brown of King’s College London predicted: “Anything too dramatic is going to be quite a high cost. It will be called Tiananmen 2.0, and they don’t want that kind of reputational hit.”

Yet this fundamentally misunderstands the party’s long-running political calculus and how it interprets past events, including Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and even June 4, 1989. The great arc of CCP history – indeed, of one-party political systems in general – shows that international opprobrium and domestic blowback are manageable, if costly. The uncontrolled deterioration of political authority is not. And that’s exactly what Beijing sees in Hong Kong right now.

…Hong Kong is not the Beijing of 1989 nor the relatively remote region of Xinjiang. Rather, it is the financial capital of Asia, and perhaps more importantly, it contains untold sums of wealth controlled by China’s elite, including senior-level officials with the CCP. The deployment of domestic forces in Hong Kong, no matter how well calibrated, would be extraordinarily costly to China…But we’re veering into the realm of something more primal – the instinct for political survival.

They can’t be that stupid, surely. The fallout this time will not be manageable. It will end Chinese globalisation. Sacking the HK Government then show-trialing them for sodomy or some other trumped up charge is a much better idea.

Or have things devolved too far already? China Press:

And more:

Posts in LIHKG, Hong Kong’s version of Reddit, show photos of hard currency withdrawn from banks, as well as ATMs declaring they’re out of cash. While the official protest is set to take place on August 16, Hongkongers have begun to take out their cash in advance because they can withdraw only $US20,000 per day.

The Hong Kong student who started this latest protest, which activists have named the Cashout HKD to USD, told INSIDER that as of Thursday, over 70 million Hong Kong dollars (nearly $US9 million) had been withdrawn, both in Hong Kong currency and in US currency; the claim couldn’t be independently verified. More than 400 protesters have recorded their withdrawals, and a Telegram channel for the protest has over 1,500 members.

…“This may work because Carrie Lam and the PRC care much about the economy,” the Hong Kong student who started the protest told INSIDER.

The student said this movement, like the others, demands the Hong Kong government do five things: “Completely withdraw the extradition bill; retract the proclamation that the protests were riots; withdraw criminal charges against all protesters; thoroughly investigate abuse of powers by the police; dissolve the Legislative Council by administrative order; and immediately implement dual universal suffrage.”

And this:

Two pro-democracy lawmakers from Hong Kong are in the US to meet with government officials and business leaders to discuss the political unrest that has left the city in turmoil.

Dennis Kwok Wing-hang and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of the Civic Party said they wanted to tell the truth about what’s happening in Hong Kong to the international community. They will also speak to government officials about how to move forward a bill US Congress will deliberate next month that could tighten Washington’s watch over the city.

The bill they referred to – the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – was reintroduced in June and would require the US to assess Hong Kong’s level of autonomy each year to determine whether the city should continue to enjoy special trade status under the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. If passed, the bill could force Beijing to back down to keep Hong Kong from losing its special economic status, which would affect investment in the city as well as on the mainland.

Hong Kong has morphed into a white collar guerrilla war, with classic “hit and run” tactics designed to make the incumbent government look slow and stupid to the point where it overreacts and then alienates the wider population. They sure sound pissed, via The Australian:

Beijing has given its starkest warning yet of military action against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, with China’s ambassador to London telling reporters authorities were willing to send in forces.

“The central government will not sit on its hands and watch,” Liu Xiaoming said last night (AEST), repeating charges that some protesters had shown “signs of terrorism.”

“We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of (the) Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly,” Mr Liu said.

“The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss.”

If the CCP doesn’t blink then I can’t see how Hong Kong comes out of this with greater freedoms. But I can see it taking the contemporary Chinese economy down with it.

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