What are the Hong Kong Protests About?
Hong Kong has had a chaotic past few months. Millions of Hong Kong citizens have taken to the streets in protest of the Beijing government. Some of these protests turned violent, as police applied force against demonstrators. To better understand the potential consequences of the Hong Kong protests, we need to first understand the cause. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has proposed a change to Hong Kong’s extradition bill. The proposed change would allow citizens of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. This would effectively enable the Chinese autocracy to target and prosecute any Hong Kong based threats to its government. Hong Kong citizens view the proposed change to the extradition bill as another example of Chinese government overreach. The protests don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. So, what will happen as Hong Kong protests Chinese autocracy?
1. The US Government is Using the Protests as Leverage in Trade War Negotiations
The US and Chinese governments are engaged in what has become a protracted trade war. The tit for tat tariffs have hurt the economies of both superpowers. As each country’s administration seeks to gain the upper hand in trade negotiations, the US is using the Hong Kong protests as leverage against China. US Vice President Mike Pence recently condemned China for its treatment of the Hong Kong protesters. By continuing to apply pressure on China, the US hopes China will be more willingly make concessions. We will likely see the US demonize China in an effort to gain support for its position in the trade war. That said, US condemnations of China’s actions against Hong Kong haven’t made any traction.
2. Hong Kong Tourism is Declining
Due to protests at Hong Kong International airport, flights in and out of the city were temporarily grounded. The tourism industry has been heavily affected. Videos of the protests have been syndicated across global media outlets, showing would-be travelers how dangerous the situation in Hong Kong is right now.
Representatives of Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s largest airline, advised against non-essential travel out of Hong Kong. Declines in tourism will drag on the region’s economy. Reduced tourism results in reduced consumption. Hong Kong may need to contend with tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
3. Regional and Hong Kong Based Banks are Urging for Quick Resolutions
HSBC, Hong Kong’s largest bank, recently published advertisements in five newspapers calling for a peaceful end to the protests. Citing that social stability and calm as cornerstones of Hong Kong’s success, HSBC’s business prospects depend on a swift end to the protests. The protests have provoked uncertainty in the financial markets, causing increased volatility amid an already volatile market backdrop. While slowing growth in the mainland is already hurting Hong Kong businesses, the protests are exacerbating the pain. Hong Kong pumped $2.4 billion into its economy in an effort to stave off a recession. Standard Charter and Bank of East Asia, two other large, regional banks, have also voiced their concerns about the protests. With the business community growing increasingly alarmed, Beijing is feeling the pressure from multiple angles.
How to Stop the Chinese Autocracy
Xi Jinping, China’s president, is now able to serve a lifetime tenure. Without term limits, he intends to carry out his vision of centralizing authority over China and its territories. Surveilling, censoring, and imprisoning government opposition is the norm under Xi’s regime. The only way to stop the Chinese autocracy is through collective action, just as that which we’re witnessing in Hong Kong. Ensuring that Xi does not maintain his tight grip over China for the foreseeable future is the best path forward for both the country and the world. The Hong Kong protests, one could only hope, are just the beginning of the revolution.
What do you think about the Hong Kong people protesting Chinese autocracy? Leave a comment below or contact me directly.