No, they will go down as an act that accelerated a quite spectacular demise of one of the world’s most impressive cities, leading to an irreversible end to its prosperity – owed entirely to its youth’s reckless irrationality.
The political discourse in Hong Kong has been hijacked by individuals easily the least equipped to handle it – young, spoiled and angry – with their poster-child leader personifying the irrationality and deep ignorance of the entire thoughtless group.
Beijing’s Unexpected Ally
Sometimes I wonder if young Joshua and his followers are really so oblivious to the reality or perhaps they have been planted by the Chinese authorities to ruin the city, pushing it into ultimate submission and both national and international irrelevance.
In their blind, ignorant anger they fail to realize that what they do plays into CCP’s hands.
Beijing wins on the economy…
It’s hardly a disaster for the Party to see the troublesome city self-destruct, accelerating the distribution of business & financial activity to other parts of China. And while some of it is going to be lost to foreign alternatives – like Singapore – overall, it is a positive development for Beijing, even if it might be costly in the short-term.
Let’s be clear – business and money come to Hong Kong because of China. Without China Hong Kong has – and is – nothing.
The tiny enclave has become a platform for business activity between the PRC and the world – and it relies entirely on Chinese benevolence to continue with the status quo.
Its position has quite naturally declined over the past 20 years, due to China’s meteoric growth. Still, PRC does rely on Hong Kong as an intermediary for business & financial services between it and the rest of the planet – allowing red chip companies to expand overseas and foreign corporations to enter mainland through a legally and economically liberal environment.
That said, these advantages are merely a legal construct that is not set in stone – and can both be eroded by Beijing as well as recreated somewhere else, where the Party exercises complete control. In fact, such steps have already been taken, with elevation of Shanghai and Shenzhen as financial hubs on the mainland.
And now, thanks to the riots which have gravely damaged Hong Kong’s reputation abroad, Beijing may find it even easier to attract foreigners to conduct business on its terms and on its territory, if only for the sake of security and stability greater than in a politically shaken Hong Kong, whose future is uncertain.
Well done, Joshua!
Secondly, as long as the protests were peaceful and drew hundreds of thousands (if not millions) to attend, the image of Hong Kong as an orderly city was untouched – and maybe even bolstered a bit, as the world was impressed by their calm conduct. But as soon as the streets have become overrun by reckless rioters destroying everything in their way this impression is all but gone. Incidentally, it is exactly the message that the CCP wants to broadcast across China – one of disorder, violence and destruction that Western ideas bring.
I think someone from the Politburo should send a congratulatory letter to Joshua for serving the interests of the Communist Party by fundamentally tarnishing the image of Western civilization – and its supposedly great ideals – across mainland China.
If that’s how the supposed “liberties” look like then most people really do not want them. But 20-somethings with nothing at stake don’t really understand it yet.
Independent Hong Kong – and then what?
Another example of quite remarkable blindness of the rioting youth is complete lack of consideration for long term consequences, regardless of whether they achieve their goals or not.
Here’s what Joshua said about these goals:
Hong Kong protesters want to “determine [their] own future, [their] way of living things” and “not being dominated by Beijing authorities.
I have to say that it is quite a touching example of his complete naivety. Alas, the now 23-year old was busy protesting instead of studying geography and history in the past years, what clearly crippled his understanding of the political reality.
But let’s assume for a moment that all of these demands come true – that universal suffrage is granted, that the locals can freely elect their political representatives and live in a bubble of freedom, away from laws written in Beijing. Whether or not the protesters make open calls for the city’s independence from China, the fact is that instating a democratic order, allowing it to completely self-govern itself would mean a de facto independence from the mainland.
Alright, so Hong Kong becomes, in one way or another, independent. What now?
Do the protesters seriously believe that, once it happens, business in the city will continue as usual? That Beijing will accept dependence on trade & financial services ceded to an enclave which has expressed so much hostility towards it?
CCP has designated Shanghai as China’s global financial hub – what is already being recognized abroad. Just last month the London Stock Exchange rejected a surprise takeover bid from Hong Kong Stock Exchange, with the CEO LSE putting it quite bluntly: “We view Shanghai as the financial centre of China.”
In a letter rejecting the proposal, LSE has put into writing something that most people are already aware of:
“We recognise the scale of the opportunity in China and value greatly our relationships there. However, we do not believe HKEX provides us with the best long-term positioning in Asia or the best listing / trading platform for China. We value our mutually beneficial partnership with the Shanghai Stock Exchange which is our preferred and direct channel to access the many opportunities with China.“
Politicians in London may take angry postures or issue critical remarks about Chinese dealings in Hong Kong but business looks beyond such squabbles and acts in its long-term self interest. So, for all the sympathy Hongkongers may receive in the British capital, nobody is actually willing to bet their money against China.
The ignorance of the city’s history, exhibited by the young rioters and their leaders is rather mind-boggling. The only reason Hong Kong exists and the only reason it is prosperous, is China.
Hong Kong’s very existence has for two centuries depended on bridging Chinese and foreign interests – but, today, the protesters are burning the bridge with China, what destroys the reason for the rest of the world to come to the city at the same time.
Nobody needs Hong Kong unless it provides a friendly environment for doing business with China (or out of China with the world). Naturally, the fundamental lack of understanding of geopolitics is not surprising in a 23-year old blindly convinced of his righteousness. But given this glaring gap in knowledge he should not be in charge of anything other than his student’s notebook.
Prosperity of no country is attained merely by the liberty of its inhabitants to decide on the course of its politics. It is built on how it deals with the geopolitical situation it is in.
Unlike its cousin, Singapore, it doesn’t have a region to lean on – everything that goes on in Hong Kong, every plane that lands at its airport, every ship that collects cargo from its port happens under Beijing’s supervision. It is is entirely dependent on China.
The only way for Hong Kong to have any relevance is to maintain a positive relationship with Beijing – which is now being destroyed, condemning the city’s future, regardless of how it is governed in the end.
Tyranny of the Reckless
Responsibility is the price of freedom
This quote encapsulates the problem of the Western model of democracy built on largely unbridled freedom of expression. Freedom yields benefits only if it’s used responsibly. Unrestricted free speech is fundamentally at odds with democracy because it creates an environment in which a vocal and violent minority – fervently convinced of its righteousness and the right to voice it – can attempt to hijack the country and ruin everybody else’s lives (deliberately or not) in pursuit of its agenda.
This is something that is observable in the West as well – with the “yellow vests” paralyzing France, Antifa protests in America, antiglobalist riots whenever a G7 or G20 summit is held anywhere and so on.
As the West remains the model for all self-righteous activists – chiefly because it convinced them of their right to assail any legal order under the claim of freedom to express their dissent – it has also set the tone for the protests in Hong Kong.
Scores of angry young people are now running around, trashing their city, convinced by people like Joshua Wong that they are fighting for some greater cause – without even asking what that cause actually is and what its consequences might be.
The blind are leading the blind.
They are merely thoughtless, rebellious kids on the loose, trying to make a mark, showing how determined they are – while someone has given them a goal and convinced them of its righteousness. But it’s a self-delusion akin to that of a toddler throwing a tantrum as a demonstration of independence from his parents.
The reason that these stupid children can commit all of these absolutely idiotic acts largely unopposed is because they believe they have nothing to lose today and do not understand the impact their actions will have on their future.
There is no price that they realistically have to bear right now – even the odd chance of being shot by a policeman is rather contributing to an added thrill of becoming a hero, a martyr of the right cause, who will later wear his scars with pride.
Few people with real stake will oppose the rioters, because they have jobs, families, children to take care of and they can’t be running around throwing bricks in one direction or another.
Had these reckless youngsters spent more time diligently studying history they would have realized long ago that even the hippies of the 60s – the “flower power” generation that opposed the war in Vietnam and sympathized with Marxism, have by now become conservatives.
Why is that? Certainly not because they’ve turned into sour old farts but because over many decades of life they have learned what is truly worthy of appreciation and protection.
For Joshua Wong to speak about democracy he would first have to ensure he has the mandate of the majority. And does he? What can he know about what most people desire? A 23-year old who received an undeserved boost to his ego for merely having a loud mouth?
The only thing that matters to him is channeling his baseless anger towards a political cause that has no future at all. But he’s too stupid to see that.
Much like Greta Thunberg on climate issues, Joshua Wong shows that it would have been better if he had obediently gone to school, learning a thing or two in the process, instead of wasting time on protesting things he has no knowledge of.
Had that happened, then perhaps he would have understood that democracy is not only about honoring the will of the people but also about serving the best interests of the majority.
And in what way do the increasingly violent protests serve them exactly? What does idiotic destruction of public and private property bring? Ravaging MTR stations, forcing the operator to shut the entire network down to avoid further damage, effectively bringing the city to a standstill? Setting streets and buildings on fire? Assaulting Hong Kong police – the very same Hongkongers that Joshua and his companions are – with Molotov cocktails? Paralyzing the airport, inconveniencing thousands of innocent travelers, tarnishing the reputation of the city they profess to love?
What is the future that Joshua Wong proposes? One of reckless stupidity? One of violence and vandalism? Ignorance, incompetence and blind anger? What is the value that young Joshua is offering millions of Hongkongers exactly? A future of marginalization, economic decline and lack of perspectives?
Democracy – like any political system – is only a means to an end. So, what is that end? Joshua Wong doesn’t have an answer. What young fail to realize is that for meaningful change to happen it takes more than just being angry.
And that it is much harder to build than to destroy.
Which is why history will place Joshua Wong among those whose good intentions ultimately paved the road to hell.
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