Should Beijing intervene forcefully in Hong Kong?

By Hu Xijin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/25 21:28:41

Photo: IC

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is in turmoil, the authority of the police is seriously challenged, and the SAR government faces serious difficulties in performing its duties. In these times, many people look to Beijing.

Would you like Beijing to be forceful, such as ordering the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to take to the streets to maintain order? Personally, I am against this idea. 

Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland follow the principle of "one country, two systems." The central government and mainland society actually lack key resources to directly govern the Hong Kong society. The "one country, two systems" principle, under which Hong Kong people administer Hong Kong, is, at least for now, the best way to minimize the city's troubles. 

Some people say if it doesn't work, one system for one country may be an option, but that would lead to a revolution in Hong Kong society.

If PLA dominates the situation in Hong Kong and squelches the rioters, what will happen next? Hong Kong's system lacks coordinated forces and mechanisms to consolidate the achievements of PLA intervention. The radical opposition forces have sufficient room to resist intervention of the PLA and to smear and disrupt it. A possible collective attack by the West would mean huge political costs and serious uncertainty about Hong Kong's future. 

If the PLA steps in to help stabilize the situation, Hong Kong will benefit from public security. But Hong Kong's public opinion will certainly not buy it. They will enjoy the benefits of restored order while accusing Beijing of undermining the "one country, two systems" principle. 

What Beijing can do at this stage, I believe, is to support the SAR government so it can perform its duties in accordance with the law, especially helping the SAR government to gain confidence and lend confidence to patriotic forces in the city, telling them not to be afraid, no matter how arrogant the extremist opposition is, because the mainland society and the central government have their back. 

The biggest problem now is that Hong Kong police cannot bring the situation under control, and in a new environment where politics trumps the rule of law, thugs who pass "pursuing democracy" off as "political correctness"  are more domineering than the police. Once the police become tough, those thugs will disperse right away.

If many people in Hong Kong fail to wake up to the reality and still believe that demonstrators are "helping them strive for more rights," and thus do not cooperate with SAR government and police to restore order, they will only suffer losses themselves. We might as well let the chaos in Hong Kong last for a little longer. 

Anyway, the principle of "one country, two systems" has played a protective role in mainland society. No matter how chaotic Hong Kong is, we will not lose it. When mounting chaos threatens the city's status as the financial center, when Hong Kong's economy and people's living standard deteriorate, more people will wake up to the truth. The Chinese mainland needs to be patient.

I don't think there is a need for any kind of strong intervention on the part of the mainland unless the following scenarios happen.

First, there is a big purge of patriotic forces in Hong Kong, which makes them leave Hong Kong and flee to the mainland. Hong Kong really becomes a bridgehead for the US to contain China.

Second, due to serious political turmoil, Hong Kong suffers humanitarian disasters, such as large-scale vendettas between different factions, and the city falls into complete anarchy. 

Third, armed rioters go on a rampage, which can't be contained by Hong Kong police. The extremists control the central institutions of Hong Kong and are close to establishing a de facto regime. 

Of course, there may be other scenarios, but it is only when something extreme and fundamental happens in Hong Kong that Beijing needs to take drastic action. 

The Basic Law stipulates that the PLA Hong Kong Garrison do not interfere in Hong Kong's internal affairs, and that only in extreme cases can they take to the streets to maintain order at the request of the SAR government. 

Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong means that Hong Kong society must take responsibility for the prosperity and stability of the city. 

The PLA Hong Kong Garrison is a symbol of national sovereignty and cannot be regarded as Hong Kong's police backup. It needs to be very clear, both in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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