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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

American Ideals Crumbling In Hong Kong

On June 9th, 2019 the government of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong brought forth to the Legislative Council the ‘Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019.’ This proposed bill would permit the autonomous city state to extradite supposed criminals to other nations which do not have a formal extradition agreement with Hong Kong such as the mainland of China. Many Hong Kongers saw this as Beijing’s rapidly growing influence as well as the deterioration of the 1984 ‘Sino-British Joint Declaration’ freedoms and separation of powers, which has made the people to protest as well as placing the United States in a complicated situation.

Hong Kong (HKSAR) is undoubtedly a part of the sovereign territorial rights of the People’s Republic. However, retroactively killing and ignoring the Joint Declarations are a violation to the commitments that were agreed upon with the United Kingdom during the negotiated handover. This class of pervasive approachment has become a point of contention for American politicians as well as the administration headed by President Donald Trump. It is argued by many that if the central government of China allows to rip out the splinter of freedom that is Hong Kong then many nations may follow suit and be prone to an encroaching expansionist Chinese presence which would in turn erase American ideals of democracy and the rule of law. This class or argument has been compared with the era of the Cold War as the United States and Soviet Union were each trying to garner influence and support from other nations and the mindset of the domino theory has been brought back to life with the case of Hong Kong.

The failure of democratic principles and liberty at the borders of such an authoritarian regime would be a prime example that the prestige and influence that the United States once shed has begun to slowly turn into a faint whisper in the distance. US senators such as Marco Rubio and notebley Josh Hawley have pushed for legalization such as the “Hong Kong Human Rights & Democracy Act” and “Be Water Act” to counter the effects of the encroaching push by Beijing to rapidly incorporate the autonomous city state without adherence to its agreement. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong’s government, Carrie Lam has actively discredited American lawmakers concerns and stated the the central government would not be involved if not resolved quickly, notably stating, “At this point, I strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves, that is also the position of the central government [in mainland China], But if the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance.”

With these pressing issues the United States is now in a deadlock. At the moment the present American administration is attempting to resolve its trade war with China, thus any wrong move in regards to the protests of the Hong Kongers could lead to an even worsening of relations. This balance between economics and democratic freedoms which the United States always argues for with a strong conviction now pose a challenge for the political power player. China’s goal of becoming the world’s sole superpower while other nations stay under the thumb of authoritarianism is very worrying and is something that the United States must work to address quickly.

In order to solve this crisis with Hong Kong’s dying freedoms, solutions must be created and implemented in such a way that does not risk further violence. I created two solutions for this case, the first being that of a diplomatic dialogue between the government of Hong Kong, the Chinsese Central Government, the protestors and the United Nations (the United States using its diplomatic envoy as a means to be a part in this matter) as a way to address the concerns of the protestors while still maintaining the sovereignty of the People’s Republic intact as satisfying this demand for autonomy and fulfilling some demands by the protestors may wrap up the protests completely. My second solution is very much risky in regards to preserving democracy and that would be the Chinese use of the People’s liberation Army to regain control of the city and effectively kill the cities autonomy and its people such as in the vein of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. This second solution however would carry with it almost international condemnation and immediate sanctions, thus the Chinese government would reclaim its free city but at what cost? The difference between Tiananmen and Hong Kong is that almost all of the protesters would be willing to fight to the death this is why this must be resolved in a diplomatic and formal matter.

The United States is seen as a bastion of freedom, democracy and the rule of law which many nations lack, this is why Hong Kong is of great importance to the United States. Hong Kong is an example that democracy and those who are willing to fight for it are still alive, this also exemplifies that democracy is still alive. It is our duty as free people to spread and protect the rights that we hold so dear, just like those who sacrifice themselves to protect their homes.

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