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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hong Kong

I loved Hong Kong.

It was one of the great places on the planet. Nowhere near, of course, as neat and clean as Singapore, but lively, vibrant, an adrenaline rush, and overwhelming to the senses. I found the people there, although hard-working and determined to get ahead, friendly and polite. The non-stop 24hr food, the bargains, the pure capitalist joy of the place were something to partake. I visited HK several times both before and after the 1997 hand-over; the change in the city was dramatic, and not for the good.

I remember discussing Hong Kong with a Canadian diplomatic colleague--also a big fan of Hong Kong--some three years after the hand-over. I said the change in the city was palpable. The first thing I had noticed was the police force. The English-language comprehension in that force had dropped perceptibly. My friend, who had worked in HK for some time, agreed, and said that yes, indeed, the police force was being replaced gradually by personnel from the Mainland with a much lower level of education and professionalism, and much less regard for legal niceties. In addition, it seemed clear to us that Beijing promoted Shanghai and other Mainland cities as investment alternatives to HK to diminish the importance of the old Crown Colony. We were both very pessimistic about the future; neither one saw HK maintaining its "two systems" status until 2047, as required in the hand-over treaty.

It seems that our pessimism has proven justified. Beijing looks determined to annihilate Hong Kong as a beacon of democracy and hope. The frightened bully plutocrats of the CCP are on something of a rampage these days, be it on the border with India, in the South China sea, and, of course, in Hong Kong. Can Taiwan be far behind?

We have to break our reliance on China and do it ASAP. SecState Pompeo's announcement on our recognition of what is going on in Hong Kong is a good first step, and an affirmation that the Trump administration recognizes reality as the basis for a foreign policy.

Fellow blogger Lorenzo has an excellent piece on China, and its bully-boy policies. Well worth reading (here).

13 comments:

  1. I'm very pleased, and proud, of my local Federal Member of Parliament here in Western Australia.
    Ex-SAS soldier and a strong critic of China's behaviour. Bear in mind: Liberal Party in Australia is the same as your Republican party.

    https://www.andrewhastie.com.au/

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  2. I would like to be optimistic about future US action to cut dependence on China -- but it is hard to find anything solid on which to base such optimism.

    We have all learned (to most of our surprise) that we are very heavily dependent on China for medications and other medical supplies. Not smart. And what are Nancy Pelosi and her co-conspirators in Congress doing about it? Nothing!

    My State is being flooded with TV ads for the upcoming Democrat Primaries -- and all the candidates competing are promising goodies for illegal immigrants and serious action on the "Climate Emergency". Reacting to China is simply not on the Democrat agenda. Are the candidates stupid, or are they dependent on illegal Chinese contributions (a la Clinton)? Who knows?

    If we want to begin to reshore productive tax-paying industry, the first steps are to roll back excessive regulation, simplify business taxes, rein in excessive litigation risk, and level up the playing field with foreign producers. Those are all tasks which fall into Congress's remit -- but Congress is not interested.

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    Replies
    1. "Are the candidates stupid, or are they dependent on illegal Chinese contributions (a la Clinton)?"

      Embrace the empowering power of "and."

      Neither of these options are mutually-exclusive.

      Delete
  3. Loved stepping off the Liberty Launch and hitting Fleet House for the first cold one and currency exchange.
    Then off to the Bull and Bear for the real thing. And ending the nights (mornings) prowling Wan Chai. Custom made tailored suits in 3 days, Victoria Peak Tram, watching the 747s make maneuvers that can make a fighter pilot blush as they fly into Kai Tak.
    Got to go back after the handover. All the charm and energy was gone. China had turned it into another blank Asian walled city.

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    Replies
    1. Me too! 3X Station ship CO in 1970-71. Actually met and had tea with Mary Soo.

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  4. I did a stint in HK in the early '90s when it was still a Crown Colony and enjoyed the almost endless optimism of the locals and their confidence in everything they did. I also had dealings with the local Police who were very amiable and professional.

    In 2015 I returned there with my wife for a few days on our way back to Oz. The influence of Beijing was obvious. When I sought out an old contact from my previous time there I found that he had left HK for the UK as he didn't feel his old activities would endear him to the CCP.

    A friend who flew 747s for QANTAS was fond of saying you couldn't miss the runway at Kai Tak so long as you made sure to turn right as you passed Mrs Wong's flat on the top floor of the nearest apartment building.

    The CCP will screw a once vibrant place and reduce it to the level of the rest of China.

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  5. backofanenvelopeMay 29, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    I flew into Kai Tak several times in RAF Shackletons. The squadron had a rule that pilots had to make at least one trip as a co-pilot before trying their own hand. The choice was approach over the sea onto a runway that ended in blocks of flats. Or dive over the flats and try and get down before you ended in the sea. And who knew that "Swedish" massage had nothing to do with Sweden?

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  6. You are all bringing back some great memories of the old Hong Kong. Wonderful place now being ground into dust by the CCP.

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  7. I was going to take my daughter to HK before the change over. I have always regretted not doing so.

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  8. Beijing waited longer than they strictly had to. HK is theirs to do with as they please. There weren't a whole lot of other options. If the US and the UK had maintained recognition of the RoC, I suppose the UK could have made a case for 'handing HK over' to Taiwan or even 'extending the lease' through them.
    Would it have triggered a shooting war?
    I'm thinking everybody expected the CCP to fall after the soviets, but then we started flooding China with money, the exact opposite of the tactics though which we defeated the Soviet Union.
    We aren't exactly learning from experience.

    - reader #1482

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  9. In 1997 I was stationed at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. I didn't go down to HK for the handover. My husband, less disposed to avoid massive crowds than I, did go and found it an amazing, historic occasion. We HOPED at the time that Hong Kong would be able to retain its unique system of governance within China but EXPECTED that it would not....and of course that has been shown to the be case and much sooner than 2047.

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    1. I was in Guangzhou 1992-94. The most poignant thing I remember about visits to HK back then was the number of white-sun-blue-sky flags that were displayed.

      I'm aware that optimism is to the diplomat what courage is to the soldier, but, re the CCP, 天下乌鸦一般黑 (all crows are black). It's probably too late to avoid a shooting war in both the S. China Sea and the Taiwan Strait--and at a time when the USA and allies are in no position to engage in one.
      What I see of Taiwan is a hollowed-out military coupled with a street-level willingness to resist and an ill-advised belief that the USA and Japan ccan be trusted to help. Hence, I foresee a very bloody and unpleasant Chinese Communist takeover of the island.

      But, by far the worst thing I saw about China was a conversation with a low-level functionary of the Foreign Affairs Bureau. The woman noted that my last name "didn't sound very American." I explained that my grandfather came from Germany, preparing to make the "nation of immigrants" talking point. The woman then said she thought that Hitler was a very great man, and couldn't fathom it when I explained that my father's family was Jewish, and lost a small-town's worth of kin to the HOlocaust. "But, wouldn't that be a small price for the nation to be unified?" Came the Chinese reply. I then explained that if German-Americans had a WWII hero, it was Gen. Eisenhower. It didn't register. I then explained that "Eisenhauer" is German for "Iron-cutter". The woman was shocked to the bone. What I'd done was leave the impression that the USA is a nation of race-traitors.

      If the USA made off with the moral capital of 19th century Germany (and the rest of Europe, perhaps), China learned an unholy mix of socialism and rankled, jackboot nationalism to add to its millennia-old heritage of despotism.

      Delete
  10. One other comment on China. I recall all the shameful puffery of Deng Xiaoping that went on in our media prior to 1989. But the fact of the matter is that his survival in Mao's court and the events of 06/04/89 displayed what he really is to the whole world.

    Take a Danny DeVito character. Strip away the humor, pathos, warmth, complexity, and "lovabel rogue" mask. You then get a nasty little man. That was Deng Xiaoping.

    Now we have Xi Jinping, a Stalin wannabe.

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