Democracy Worldwide: Unrest in Hong Kong escalates as Beijing’s response looms

The semiautonomous city of Hong Kong has been rocked by protests for the 9th straight week. What began as a protest against an extradition proposal has become a wide-ranging offensive for democracy. On the ground, the situation gets more volatile by the day. Demonstrators have converged on the Hong Kong airport and will remain there for a 3 day sit in. No room for doubt of their motives is left by their signs and slogans. TIME Magazine reports that,

“Tourists came up to take pictures of the protesters, who sang ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ from ‘Les Miserable’, and handed out fliers in a variety of languages that said things like ‘welcome to Hong Kong, not China’ and ‘please ask me about Hong Kong.’ At least three people waved big American flags, while a banner was unfurled that read ‘Liberate HK Revolution Now.’”

–TIME Magazine

The references to classical liberal values could not be more evident. Around the world, America epitomizes the ideal of freedom, of citizenship and civil government more so than any other country. America’s Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers created the template for future liberal states and did so in the most eloquent way possible. The people of Hong Kong recognize the beauty of the American system to the extent that they will wave our banner while under threat from the authoritarian Chinese. Their courage is to be admired. Not content with references to the American Revolution, the pro-democracy demonstrators also pulled from the history of revolutionary France in the form of a song from the musical version of Les Miserable. “Do you hear the people sing” could be called the theme song for classical liberalism. The song refers to the liberal revolt that occurred in Paris in 1832 (Paris being in chaos is rather topical). Scores of liberals were killed when the boot came down. It is a romanticized anthem for freedom and self-government which makes it a perfect choice for the Hong Kong protestors.

In the 2014 unrest in Hong Kong, “Do you hear the people sing” was a favorite of the protestors as well. Evidently, Beijing has had enough of these toxic liberal ideas because they have decided to censor it across China. Another popular protest song is the Christian hymn “Sing Hallelujah to The Lord.” This is particularly noteworthy considering China’s renowned persecution of Christians which the Guardian has called, “the worst crackdown on religion in the country since the Cultural Revolution when Mao Zedong’s government vowed to eradicate religion. China’s persecution of religious minorities –especially Christians, is a long running trend that was grandfathered in from the communist days. It is also a subject so expansive that it merits its own article so this deviation must end here.

These ultra-liberal demonstrations come at a time when Chinese police and military forces are massing just outside Hong Kong. It does not take a military genius on par with Karl von Clausewitz or Helmuth von Moltke the Elder to see that nothing good can come of this development. Without mincing words, it is reasonable to assume that China is preparing to put down the pro-democracy demonstrators with extreme prejudice. Hong Kong is on the brink of another Tiananmen Square. Today, few Chinese are aware of the massacre at Tiananmen Square because of the government’s monopoly on the media. Few Chinese are also aware of the concentration camps set up by the regime Uighur region of Xinjiang. George Orwell would soberly nod at seeing how well Xi’s Jinping China has mirrored Big Brother’s Oceania in 1984.

Photo credit: “US monitoring Hong Kong border as Chinese forces gather en masse” via the New York Post

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