Recent events in Hong Kong have given us food for thought. Citizens of that city have been demonstrating for more democratic treatment, more freedom, similar to what they enjoyed when the city was a colony of Great Britain. When the lease on the colony ran out and the city reverted to China, a “one-country-two-system” was guaranteed by treaty to provide for a 50-year period of gradual transition to the city becoming totally reincorporated into the country. This year, however, the Chinese government passed four laws that strictly apply four new laws that greatly infringe upon the initial guarantees and thus greatly diminish certain freedoms the citizens of Hong Kong had enjoyed. Now if they speak ill or criticize China, as they had been doing prior to now, a citizen can not only be arrested, but forcibly taken to mainland China and imprisoned for many years.
Watching the news I sympathize with the demonstrators who seek to retain their democratic freedoms, but I am pessimistic about their chances of success. Indeed, in view of the heavy-handed manner in which China silences anyone who speaks out against the government, I cannot help but think that Hong Kong will suffer a fate similar to the Uyghurs, Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. These people have been herded up and placed in camps, essentially prison camps, where the Han Chinese try to make them give up their Muslim religion and culture and force them to integrate into Han Chinese culture. It is brainwashing on a massive scale and certainly reminds one of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four and Thought Crime. China being a huge nation totally controlled by the Communist Party, similar to The Party in Orwell’s book, resistance to it is all but impossible and no amount of international outrage and displeasure has any effect. Indeed, it only serves to make the government more arrogant and intolerant.
China is like a large bully who thinks that he can do whatever he likes in his neighborhood and force everyone in that neighborhood to accede to his demands and wishes or else face certain harassment and possibly even physical assault. No where is it more evident that its treatment of Hong Kong and its attempts to make the South China Sea its own territory. Countries in that region, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia can only sit back and watch, helpless to resist or confront China. Such arrogant behavior has even extended into Japan’s territorial waters.
Sadly, it does not appear that there will be any change to China’s arrogant and aggressive behavior and if anything it seems as though through its Belt and Road Initiative it intends to subjugate Africa and other distant regions, too. Not a pretty picture. It begs the question, though, of what, if anything can be done to counter this situation.