Tensions in Hong Kong remain very high as huge numbers of residents there continue pro-democracy protests aimed at keeping the communist Chinese regime at arm’s length and forces loyal to the Chinese government take stronger action to put down the protests.
A leading expert on China policy says the showdown is critically important and that President Trump must do much more to support those demanding their freedom.
The demonstrations began in June in fierce opposition to a proposed law in the Hong Kong legislature that would make extradition to mainland China much easier. With more than a million people in the streets, officials shelved the legislation. But protesters want it permanently withdrawn and more power in determining their government among other demands.
“People in Hong Kong, and not just the pro-democracy kids on the streets but also a very large segment of the Hong Kong population, just believe this is their last stand for autonomy,” said Gordon Chang, a China expert and author of “The Coming Collapse of China.”
Peaceful protests have turned more confrontational lately, both in the streets and this week at an airport sit-in. Chang admits some of the demonstrators have gotten more rowdy but he sees something out of place with the Hong Kong police as well.
“I don’t think they’re answering to the Hong Kong commissioner of police. I think that essentially we’re seeing Beijing dictate what’s going on,” said Chang.
Chang says YouTube videos show supposed Hong Kong police officers unable to speak the native Cantonese language or present their police identification. Another shows an officer oddly addressing fellow officers as “comrades” and another showing an officer alternately speaking Cantonese and Mandarin, which is highly unusual he says.
And as China appears to be taking a hard line on the protesters, President Trump appears to be going very soft on China, at least for now.
“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough. We’ll what see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China, by the way,” said Trump on Tuesday.
“He’s also said things like, ‘This is a matter between Hong Kong and China.’ That is uninspiring and completely inadequate,” said Chang.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Chang discuss how China is likely to act as the protests continue, why he believes this crisis matters a lot to the United States, and what the proper U.S. position should be right now.