79 Days That Shook Hong Kong

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Hong Kong’s Final Protest Site Has Been Cleared

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Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says

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[PHOTO] Kin Cheung: Walking through Tunnels on Barricaded Road in Hong Kong

China and Taiwan: Beijing’s Hong Kong Blunder Derails ‘One China’ Dream


A Model to Bring Back Taiwan Into Beijing’s Fold Turns Into a Negative Example

HONG KONG — Andrew Browne writes: For modern Chinese leaders, no mission carries more patriotic importance than realizing the dream of “One China.”

“As prospects for political accommodation between China and Taiwan evaporate, expect tensions to increase.”

Deng Xiaoping saw Hong Kong as an opportunity to win over hearts and minds in Taiwan, the greatest and most elusive part of that vision. Freewheeling Hong Kong was the opportunity to show a model that could work: “One Country, Two Systems.”

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

If China could take over and preserve Hong Kong’s existing capitalist system and way of life, the thinking went, it would demonstrate to Taiwan “compatriots” that their future, too, would be secure under Communist rule.

President Xi Jinping is now watching as prospects of Taiwan returning to the embrace of the motherland recede into a far distant future, as parts of Hong Kong remain paralyzed by pro-democracy protests.

“By Beijing’s own calculation, Hong Kong was the key to bringing Taiwan back into the fold.”

Although it isn’t apparent from the rhetoric coming out of Beijing, one of the most significant outcomes of the rallies in Hong Kong over the past weeks has been to further diminish whatever was left of the hope that China could achieve the reunification of Taiwan and its 23 million people.

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

The implications of this may not be felt immediately, but they could be far-reaching over time. Behind Beijing’s stated wish for “peaceful reunification” is the threat to use force if necessary. That keeps the Taiwan Strait as a potential flash point for conflict between China and the U.S., Taiwan’s main arms supplier and international supporter.

“Now, Mr. Xi confronts simultaneous challenges from two sets of students in Taiwan and Hong Kong…”

As prospects for political accommodation between China and Taiwan evaporate, expect tensions to increase.

By Beijing’s own calculation, Hong Kong was the key to bringing Taiwan back into the fold.

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

Its return was relatively straightforward: It fell back into China’s arms because a British lease over the main part of its territory expired in 1997. Taiwan, a self-governing island, would have to be persuaded through powerful example.

“Worse, the groups are finding common cause: Leaders of the Sunflower Movement have been sharing street tactics and negotiating skills with those running the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong.”

For a while it looked promising, but for many Taiwanese, Hong Kong is now a negative example—proof that China won’t tolerate genuine democracy, can’t be trusted to deliver on its promises of autonomy and lacks the flexibility needed to manage a sophisticated population and their political aspirations.

Taiwan has even more to lose since it is an independent country in all but name, with an already-flourishing democracy.

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

Photo: Pundit Planet Hong Kong Bureau

“Hong Kong Today, Taiwan Tomorrow,” has become a slogan of the student-led Sunflower Movement in Taiwan, which engulfed Taipei in protests earlier this year against a proposed free-trade agreement with Beijing. Opponents argue the arrangement would make the island dangerously vulnerable to economic coercion from the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »

Umbrella Up, Hong Kong Makes TIME


Streaming Video of the Occupy Central Protests in Hong Kong

On Sept. 28, organizers of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement pushing for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, joined student protesters in calling for democracy in the city. Occupy Central decided to launch its protests early after student protesters attempted to break into the Hong Kong government headquarters, sparking clashes with police.

The Wall Street Journal is now streaming video from the site of the protests here with periodic live updates when local Internet bandwidth permits… (more)

China Real Time Report – WSJ

Hong Kong Democracy Movement Losing Mojo


A police officer looks out over a highway in Hong Kong’s Central district on Sept. 1. Hong Kong activist group Occupy Central says some of its support is weakening.  Bloomberg News

HONG KONG—Chester Yung and Isabella Steger report: A co-founder of the activist group at the center of threats to paralyze Hong Kong’s business district with anti-Beijing protests adopted a somber tone on Tuesday, saying its goal of securing a representative voting system in the city was “close to failure.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure.”

— Chan Kin-man, one of Occupy Central’s co-founders

Chan Kin-man said some of its support is waning after Beijing’s decision on Sunday that effectively allows China to determine who can govern Hong Kong. The group had led a pro-democracy charge demanding popular input on candidates in Hong Kong’s next elections.

“Many people in Hong Kong are being pragmatic…We need to sustain our civil society.”

“Our goal to achieve genuine universal suffrage in 2017 and a reform of the system is close to failure,” said Mr. Chan. He said he only expects a few thousand people, below the number originally expected, to join planned sit-in protests.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tocqueville on the 47 Percent

Noting Romney’s “inelegant” comments about the 47% who don’t pay taxes, Powerline turns to the always elegant Alexis de Tocqueville, quoting from his chapter in Book 1:


Let us now suppose that the legislative authority is vested in the lowest order: there are two striking reasons which show that the tendency of the expenditures will be to increase, not to diminish.

As the great majority of those who create the laws have no taxable property, all the money that is spent for the community appears to be spent to their advantage, at no cost of their own, and those who have some little property readily find means of so regulating the taxes that they weigh upon the wealthy and profit the poor, although the rich cannot take the same advantage when they are in possession of the government.

In countries in which the poor have the exclusive power of making the laws, no great economy of public expenditure ought to be expected; that expenditure will always be considerable either because the taxes cannot weigh upon those who levy them or because they are levied in such a manner as not to reach these poorer classes. In other words, the government of the democracy is the only one under which the power that votes the taxes escapes the payment of them.

In vain will it be objected that the true interest of the people is to spare the fortunes of the rich, since they must suffer in the long run from the general impoverishment which will ensue. . .

Here we should observe that Tocqueville inclines toward supply-side economics.  To continue:

Again, it may be objected that the poor never have the sole power of making the laws; but I reply that wherever universal suffrage has been established, the majority unquestionably exercises the legislative authority; and if it be proved that the poor always constitute the majority, may it not be added with perfect truth that in the countries in which they possess the elective franchise they possess the sole power of making the laws? It is certain that in all the nations of the world the greater number has always consisted of those persons who hold no property, or of those whose property is insufficient to exempt them from the necessity of working in order to procure a comfortable subsistence. Universal suffrage, therefore, in point of fact does invest the poor with the government of society.

The disastrous influence that popular authority may sometimes exercise upon the finances of a state was clearly seen in some of the democratic republics of antiquity, in which the public treasure was exhausted in order to relieve indigent citizens or to supply games and theatrical amusements for the populace. It is true that the representative system was then almost unknown, and that at the present time the influence of popular passions is less felt in the conduct of public affairs; but it may well be believed that in the end the delegate will conform to the principles of his constituents and favor their propensities as much as their interests.

But then Tocqueville provides the remedy that is missing from Romney’s rhetoric—how opportunity and social mobility, rather than redistribution, is the better road to advancement:

The extravagance of democracy is less to be dreaded, however, in proportion as the people acquire a share of property, because, on the one hand, the contributions of the rich are then less needed, and, on the other, it is more difficult to impose taxes that will not reach the imposers.

via Tocqueville on the 47 Percent | Power Line