The Nature of the Hong Kong Protests

Democratic freedoms aside, many nations in the world but particularly the U.S., Britain and China have interests to protect in Hong Kong.

By Mary Beaudoin and cross-posted from Consortium Dreams.

Should peace and justice advocates support pro-democracy efforts whenever they arise in the world? Even some U.S. alternative media identifying as liberal and progressive have joined the chorus, portraying the protests in Hong Kong as the noble pursuit of democratic freedoms, brave resistance to the authoritarian Chinese government oppressing the people.

Democratic freedoms aside, many nations in the world but particularly the U.S., Britain and China have interests to protect in Hong Kong. The island-city is a special administrative district within China with a unique history. It was subject to British colonial rule for approximately 150 years but, under an agreement with the People’s Republic of China, in 1997 it was returned to China and governed as “one country, two systems” with its own legal and administrative systems. Hong Kong’s special status enabled it to become a leading financial center and tax haven for international corporations. Its free market is so free from regulation and accountability that the conservative American think tank, the Heritage Foundation, has consistently ranked the city as No. 1 in its Index of Economic Freedom.

The arrangement has been of mutual benefit to both foreigners and the Republic of China. As a Reuters primer explains: “China uses Hong Kong’s currency, equity, and debt markets to attract foreign funds, while international companies use Hong Kong as a Launchpad to expand into mainland China”

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