Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Founding Fathers of Hong Kong Protests Blink, Retreat, Surrender

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

If anyone hadn’t noticed already, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests are running out of energy and options. Benny Tai’s announcement, actually planned for some time, simply confirms it. After two long months, the movement has achieved nothing in the way of concessions from Hong Kong’s own government, let alone China’s.

(BBC News, December 2, 2014)

_79441903_024950221-1Benny Tai is one of the founders of the protests who announced yesterday not only that the time had come to “retreat from protest sites,” but that he and fellow founding fathers Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming intended to turn themselves into the police today.

I hope we can show others the meaning of the surrender. We urge the occupation to end soon and more citizens will carry out the basic responsibility of civil disobedience, which is to surrender.

(Reuters, December 3, 2014)

Recall that protesters want Beijing to withdraw plans to screen all candidates for Hong Kong elections. Moreover, they want to renegotiate terms of the 1997 “one country, two systems” reunification agreement to guarantee Hong Kong greater democratic freedoms.

hong-kong_3064102bI should clarify, however, that, even though all of these protesters are “running out of options” (assuming they ever had any), not all of them are running out of energy. Indeed, these middle-aged founding fathers calling on young student protesters to retreat, is rather like President Obama calling on restive Ferguson protesters to be sweet.

Unfortunately, just as protesters in Ferguson have nothing to show for their efforts, except vandalized businesses and growing public disgust, those in Hong Kong have nothing to show for theirs, except squalid encampments … and growing public disgust.

But, just as I warned it would be thus in Ferguson, I warned it would be thus in Hong Kong:

I fear the only issue here is whether these student protesters will give up their demands and return to classes before Chinese leaders do to them what they did to their predecessors in Tiananmen Square.

As sympathetic as I am to their cause, I pray they will be guided – not only by the tragic outcome of Tiananmen Square, but by the boomerang outcome of Tahrir Square as well – to give up their demands and return to classes before the tanks come rolling in … again.

After all, it would be tantamount to suicide for Chinese leaders to give in. Not to mention the pandora’s box of similar demands that would immediately flow from other regions, including Xinjiang, Uighar … and Tibet, if they do.

If Beijing learned anything from Tiananmen Square, instead of sending in tanks again, its leaders would send in local police to quarantine the protesters in one area and ensure access to vital businesses and public services. They would then just let the protesters vent their spleens until they become too hungry, thirsty, and/or tired to continue and begin begging to go home.  In other words, show that vaunted Chinese patience by simply waiting them out.

(“Hong Kong Protesters Raise Spectre of Tiananmen Square,” The iPINIONS Journal, September 23, 2014)

joshua_hongkongMeanwhile, student leader Joshua Wong and two others preempted the co-founders’ announcement by going on a hunger strike. Except that Beijing probably deems this the equivalent of a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum just to get attention.

Besides, given that Beijing was perfectly prepared to let renowned Chinese dissidents (like the “Four Gentlemen” of Tiananmen Square fame) die on hunger strikes, it behooves Wong to appreciate that Beijing is perfectly prepared to let him, a relatively insignificant student protester, die as well.

Nonetheless, these protesters should be encouraged that, unlike many of their Tiananmen predecessors, they are still alive to protest another day. And, with hundreds of daily, unheralded anti-government protests all over Mainland China, that day will surely come.

In fact, I’m on record predicting – in such commentaries as “Gap Between Rich and Poor in China Is Sowing Seeds of Resentment and Terminal Unrest,” December 22, 2005, and “Jasmine Revolution Simmering in China,” January 19, 2012 – that it’s only a matter of time before Beijing faces far more formidable protests (a la Tiananmen 2.0). Hong Kong protesters would be wise to join those protests in pincer fashion….

Related commentaries:
Hong Kong protesters
Jasmine revolution

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