The graphic reports of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, and the official and un-official reactions to those protests should have only reinforced what was to be expected from the Chinese Government in Beijing. The sham of Chinese democracy cannot tolerate exceptions to their rule, and Hong Kong and Taiwan are obvious exceptions.
Unfortunately, the Chinese Government in Beijing has two great advantages over most other jurisdictions that claim to be democracies: they have a president for life, and they can afford to take a long-term view of achieving their goals. Russia is in a somewhat similar position but Putin’s position is more tenuous and his philosophy is shorter range – he wants to achieve his goals within his political lifetime – the Chinese merely want to achieve their goals. Admittedly, the Chinese do have an Achilles heel in that they have allowed the door to be opened towards capitalism and world experience has shown that that door cannot be opened slowly. At some point, it will slam against the hinges as the mass of the people realize they have the power. So far the Chinese Government has effectively kept the lid on, but cracks are showing in the form of localized protests and strikes. Eventually those protests will become coordinated and then control will be lost by the Central Government. The only factor in doubt is the timing of that change.
However, in terms of Hong Kong it will probably come too late to save that unique jurisdiction.
The idea that the recent gangs of white-shirted thugs are anything other than an extension of Chinese Central Government policy is naïve at best and stupid at worst. It fits Beijing’s goals and their strategy pattern perfectly.
We also have to remember that the Chinese Government now have submarines patrolling the straits between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, which has effectively banished the resident U.S. Carrier Force to patrolling in open ocean rather than in the straits as they used to. This has made invasion, or re-assimilation, much easier and, in any case, would the U.S. really go to war with China over Taiwan. Donald Trump might, but no U.S. president in his right mind would. All the Chinese have to do is wait for the right, least risky, opportunity. A future, insular, anti-war democratic U.S. president would work well for them.
We really need to wake up to these long-term threats. Russia and China are the pre-eminent threats and we need a consistent, long-term strategy to deal with them, not a seat-of-the-pants, knee-jerk, reaction to each encroachment. They will nibble away at our advantages until they deem it the right time to take decisive action and then it will be too late for us to stop it, short of a world war.
What China is doing in Hong Kong is an excellent example of this strategy and one we should learn from. One frightening scenario is Vladimir Putin waiting until we are distracted by the Chinese invasion of Taiwan and using that distraction to quickly gobble up Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. He might even try for Poland. The time to wake up America is way overdue.