Protestors Stand FIrm in Demands For Free Elections

For the last week, students have gathered in the streets of Hong Kong demanding the resignation of the city’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, and calling for free elections.

China has responded by asserting it will not back down in the face of protestors.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his government would “unswervingly implement the guidelines of ‘one country, two systems’,” reports Bloomberg News.

The democracy movement in Hong Kong comes at a time when China is in the midst of a massive defense buildup designed to dominate East Asia, has mounted nonstop cyber attacks on U.S. computer networks and supports rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran. And likely will not shy away from cracking down on the demonstrators.

While recognizing the limited impact the U.S. can have on the situation in Hong Kong, Max Boot says “we should not be constrained by fears of alienating China from speaking out forcefully about its human-rights violations. The U.S. should champion the cause of Chinese democracy by every means available, much as we once worked by peaceful means to undermine the Soviet bloc.”

Andrew Peek of The Fiscal Times also believes it is important for the Obama administration to state in clear and uncertain words its support for the democracy movement.

“President Obama must speak out publicly in support of the demonstrators in Hong Kong, and the sooner the better. This is a vital moment for US-China relations. So far, the Administration’s spokespeople have been guardedly supportive of the demonstrations and have urged restraint on the Chinese security forces. But a strong statement from the president would send a clear signal to Hong Kong’s (and, one hopes, China’s) civil society that the US is on their side,” he argues.

Martin Jacques of The Guardian, however, contends the protests are inspired by envy, rather than a desire for democracy.

“Two decades ago westerners comprised the bulk of Hong Kong’s tourists, today mainlanders account for the overwhelming majority, many of them rather more wealthy than most Hong Kong Chinese. Likewise, an increasing number of mainlanders have moved to the territory – which is a growing source of resentment. If China needed Hong Kong in an earlier period, this is no longer nearly as true as it was. On the contrary, without China, Hong Kong would be in deep trouble.

“Understandably, many Hong Kong Chinese are struggling to come to terms with these new realities. They are experiencing a crisis of identity and a sense of displacement. They know their future is inextricably bound up with China but that is very different from embracing the fact. Yet there is no alternative: China is the future of Hong Kong,” he writes.

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