Tensions between mainland China and Hong Kong are spiralling out of control. Towards the tail end of last year, the Chinese government supressed with disproportionate vigour the pro-autonomy protests. The protests died down slightly since then but there has been a continuation of the independence movement until now.
Thursday marked a new phase of the conflict. It saw a move by the Chinese government which attempted to seize control of Hong Kong by force, in direct contravention to international treaties. The ‘one state two systems’ deal ensured that, for the time being, Hong Kong would be a semi-autonomous entity which was not answerable to Beijing. This treaty was ripped to shreds when they announced that citizens of Hong Kong would be accountable to the Chinese authorities, who were specifically looking to arrest those who undermined Chinese control. According to the treaty, this is not within the remit of Beijing’s power.
This is a clear attempt from mainland China to pull Hong Kong, against its own wishes, further under their reigns. This amounts to nothing less than annexation by a tyrannical regime.
The question we should be asking ourselves is why should we care about the ongoing situation in Hong Kong? When the UK signed off on the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984, arguably the UK also signed off on any responsibility and connection to the area. At this point, we have no contractual obligations to fulfil.
But the truth is that we do have an obligation to fulfil. When those who oppose our values forcefully attempt to place their worldview on our allies we must step in to defend our values as much as the physical peril that they are under.
Some post-modern thinkers believe that all values are equal, so that in the West we do not have the right to judge other ideas because all ideas are of equal value. Then there are ideas from far left theorists who believe that Western values on the contrary are morally lacking and prefer the collectivised ideologies prefaced by Marx. These views are mistaken.
What the battle for Hong Kong epitomises is a battle of ideology as much as it is a physical take over. The communist regime in China is very much the antithesis of the freedom and individualism promulgated by the West and adopted by Hong Kong. Were we to simply roll over and concede to Chinese aggression, it would show a lack of conviction in our own beliefs.
Our Judaeo-Christian values which encompass the rights of all individuals, the sanctity of human life and the rights to freedom will stand the test of time. The Chinese regime, on the other hand, scorn these values. Time after time we have seen human rights violations committed by the government and blatant disregard for human life. One only has to look to the time when the coronavirus pandemic first began to see their attitudes to the rights of the individual. Whatever happened to the doctors who first warned of the coronavirus threat? Faced with complete silence from the Chinese government, one can only imagine the worst. They have repeatedly committed similar atrocities to anyone who dares go outside the desired ideological box or questions the regime.
The West must also be proud of their part in the role that capitalism has played in spreading freedom and prosperity to Hong Kong. Capitalism is a natural outgrowth of Judeo-Christian ideals of people’s rights and liberty; the two cannot be divided. While capitalism enables human freedom to take hold, communism constricts it. Hong Kong is a primary example of what capitalism can achieve both in regards to freedom and prosperity. In 1987, Hong Kong had a per capita income of $8,260 while just a few miles away in Communist China the per capita income was only $300. The West’s capitalist vision helped make Hong Kong succeed.
Hong Kong has chosen to adopt western morality. In a time where our values are being attacked from within by people who believe that our values are not worthy of any praise, we must defend them. These notions have to be tackled in our own society but we must also be willing to take our arguments abroad and face those who disparage our values. If we want to protect our values we must be willing to fight for them home and away, including in Hong Kong.