If Hong Kong Avoids a Bloody Crackdown, It Can Thank Taiwan
As Hong Kong recovers from a general strike that paralyzed transportation and led to mob violence and tear gas fired on protesters, the Beijing-controlled government’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, is hinting at even stronger action. “Such disruptions have seriously undermined Hong Kong’s law and order and are pushing our city, the city we all love, and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” she said. The Chinese government agency that oversees Hong Kong held a rare press conference Tuesday, announcing support for Lam and accusing the protesters of fomenting a revolution. Most ominously, Chinese authorities have mobilized troops near the border with the mainland.
Having visited Hong Kong many times in the course of my naval career, both when it was a British Crown Colony and after the 1997 handover to China, I think I have a pretty good feel for how large the stakes are and how worrisome the situation is. My military and diplomatic colleagues are questioning the long-term viability of the “one country, two systems” construct that has governed the relationship between Hong Kong and the rest of China for two decades. The threat of large-scale capital and physical flight is increasing.