Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Year 2020, and… how anti-protests is not anti-anti-government

Happy New Year, one and all!

Listening to some reviews of 2019, the “Hong Kong protests” pop up repeatedly as one of the top stories of 2019. “Hong Kong protesters” are named Time magazine readers’ pick for “Person of the Year”.
The narrative is simple: they are brave freedom fighters, “pro democracy” and “anti tyranny” (aka “anti-government”).
So if I come out as anti the protests, a “blue”, not a “yellow”, does that mean I’m anti democracy and pro tyrant? Am I anti-anti-government?
No, it does not, because I’m also pro democracy and anti tyrant.
I’m pro democracy: the difference is I think the results of rioting demonstrators will be less democracy, not more. That’s why I’m against them.
Re the “tyranny” issue, I’ve written often enough in this blog about how much I hate Xi Jinping’s dictatorship. The protests encourage the tyrant, they do not keep it at bay. That’s why I’m against them. Much as we may despise Xi and his cronies, we have to live and deal with China. We can’t live in perpetual opposition, unscathed. “One Country, Two Systems“ is all we have to protect us from the full force of tyranny.
And often enough I’ve criticised the Hong Kong government. I think it’s backward and incompetent.
So I reject the binary. The binary that says, if you’re anti demonstrators you are anti democracy. You’re pro tyranny. Or if you’re anti protesters you’re anti-anti-government. I’m pro democracy. I’m anti tyrant. We can’t let the media hijack the terms and  bestow them only on the protesters.
The costs of rioting, of the vandalism, of demonstrations overall are in the billions. Worst affected are charities and small businesses, the mom and pops of Hong Kong.
And the benefits are: zero.
Yes, the government did withdraw the extradition bill. But that was in June.
Since then any extra benefits of the protests, to repeat: zero.
Unless you count being the darling of western Mainstream Media as big benefit. Being labelled “pro democracy and anti tyrant” as enough payoff. Waving their American flags, I guess many do value being media darlings.
You may burn, young millenarians. I won’t burn with you.

So what of 2020 for Hong Kong? I’ll go for the time-tested three options: The same, worse and better:

1. The Same: that’s Yonden’s take. This is the new normal. Weekly forays by rioters, travel disruptions, police fear gassing, business down, people getting on around the sporadic mayhem. Kind of like the opening scene of the movie Brazil: a lady pushes a prom along the street; a bomb goes off in a shop behind her; glass shatters; the woman keeps going, unaffected by the bomb, uncaring, not noticing. (Likelihood: 80%).
Last night, New Years Eve, the same new normal Hong Kong: Tear gas. Rioters smashing shop windows,… revellers celebrate fireworks…

2. Worse: riots escalate. Police crack down more brutally. Government continues to sit on its hands. Beijing intervenes. Carrie Lam is sacked. A Beijing stooge, a strongman, is installed. Martial law. Mainstream and social media is muzzled. Protests banned. Beijing really does take control, as opposed to the imagined control animating the protesters. (Likelihood: 15%)
Another version of “worse”: the “Revolution of our times” (時代革命) happens, the government is overthrown, radicals take over the government. Beijing sits idly by and lets it all happen. (Likelihood: zero).

3. Better: the government appoints an independent commission to look into alleged police brutality. It restarts talks on Universal suffrage. Beijing agrees and sits down to constructive talks. (Likelihood: zero).
Alternative “Better”: Carrie Lam does the above, Beijing sacks her and she leaves as a fallen hero.(Likelihood: 5%).

Meantime: another demonstration is approved for this afternoon. Masses expected. Organisers have appealed for them to be peaceful.
And also: a Reuter’s poll says most Hongkongers support the protesters. But most do not support independence. I guess gratefulness for small mercies.