Have you ever received a defunct iPod for your birthday? I did, five years ago. The eleven year old me was head over heels when the package arrived, in its reflective transparent box that showcased a marvel; one that had no equal. But my momentary state of awe was crashed when the incompetent hardware revealed itself. It was an unpleasant feeling, one that cannot be truly described without the use of profanity (at least I tried).
The current situation in Hong Kong is all too similar. China’s pledge of holding fair elections in Hong Kong by 2017 has turned out to be a false promise, a non-functional iPod. Why false? In August, China stated that only candidates approved by its selection committee would be able to stand. Only two or three candidates would be permitted to run, and they would effectively be ‘Beijing puppets’. So much for “one country, two systems”, when two systems in context, would clearly be one sucking up to the other.
China has, not so beautifully, replicated the Trojan horse story, where the Greeks presented a wooden horse that housed an army of twenty odd men, in order to capture the city of Troy. China has deceived the Hong Kong populous, like the Greeks did with Troy, and protest in this case is perfectly justifiable.
Yet despite the presence of thousands of furious youthful protesters, adamant China has held its ground; firmly. The all too frequent dispersion of tear gas exemplifies this. That is why protesters, seeing how China has lived up to its stereotype, have tried gaining mass media attention. That’s right, all the umbrellas you see on television are media props, not ‘peaceful weapons’, don’t get ahead of yourself. If you can’t solve a problem ground-up, get the media involved; works wonders.
The Hong Kong vs Beijing debacle represents the middle domino; one that could lead to a chain of events if pushed to any side. Hong Kong is too invaluable to lose control of. It acts as China’s premier stock market by attracting investments from all ends of the globe. China believes holding free elections could impede this lucrative link between it and Hong Kong, causing instability. But at the same time, by not sticking to its word, by selecting the election runners, China will hamper existing relations, causing Hong Kong to be ever more aggravated with its partner. To be more precise, It’s a lose-lose situation for the holders of the red flag.
Now let’s imagine a hypothetical scenario where China does fall on it’s own sword by succumbing to the demands of Hong Kong (very unlikely, but let’s do it anyway). In such a situation, China would leave itself exposed. It might serve as an impetus for many to carry out anti-communist protests in China. There would be rioting, conflicts, bloodshed and non-vibrant democratic flags all over China. China might never be China anymore.
The fact that China ‘seriously’ promised free elections by 2017 is something I’m wary of. But either way, it’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. The longer China takes to come to terms with Hong Kong, the longer classes will be bunked and HK stock markets deserted. For now, Chinese officials need to find a way to build a bridge that connects free elections with stability. If it fails to do so, don’t be surprised to see a repetition of the Tiananmen Square incident.
And for those of you still wondering, I did eventually get my iPod fixed, and I hope the same happens for semi-autonomous Hong Kong.
(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/huiaaron/14546350761/)