Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

China and its transition imperatives 12.5: an inserted news update re Hong Kong

Posted in in the News, macroeconomics by Timothy Platt on October 1, 2014

I have been writing and posting next installments to this series at a relatively leisurely pace and well-ahead of their publication dates. So I actually wrote my Part 13 to this series and uploaded it to the blog server on September 22, 2014 for it to go live on December 7. And the title for that posting does (and will) include the differentiating tag line: “Xi Jinping’s emerging resolution to the challenge of leadership 1”

I am going to keep that posting basically as is and in its current publication queue position, but have decided to add a series update note here and now, and on one of my “off-days” for posting in general.

In anticipation of its going live, I have begun writing in Part 13 to this series of Xi Jinping’s autocratic and power-consolidating turn as he seeks control over China as a whole, and as he seeks to address his country’s many challenges and opportunities – and with an iron hand.

I have been following the sometimes growing, sometimes lessening tensions that have taken place between The People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong, essentially from the beginning of their current connectedness when Great Britain relinquished control over its now former colony there. And the tendency in this China and Hong Kong relationship has been one of grip tightening from Beijing followed by reductions in tension with that cycle recurringly repeating but with tensions never quite going back to any particular status quo ante.

My thought on this complex of issues was that I would continue posting to this series and delve into the Hong Kong challenge in a Part 14, or maybe even in a Part 15 and after the start of 2015. I will delve more deeply into at least some of the details of this complex set of issues in this series, at least beginning with Part 14 and with Part 13 serving as a foundation piece for that, as well as for discussion of the Xi administration and its actions in mainland China itself, and in dealing with the world at large. But I make note of this here in a special supplemental posting because events have taken such a dramatic turn with civil unrest and public protest mounting in Hong Kong, and in spite of and perhaps even largely because of China’s attempts to crack down on this through its combinations of promises and threats. The immediate impetus for this unrest is in how the Beijing government has chosen to ham-handedly manipulate what were promised to be free and open elections of Hong Kong’s local leadership by imposition of a slate of central government and Communist Party approved candidates as the only options that people would be allowed to vote for and with any voter selections at the polls rendered farcical for that.

I do not know what will happen in the coming two months between now and when Part 13 to this series goes live, but I am concerned enough to raise this issue now, and with memories of Tiananmen Square firmly in mind. No one anticipated anything like that happening until it did. That type and level of response to challenge to Beijing’s central authority need not happen again. And I add that unlike a public square in the middle of Beijing that could be surrounded by and cut off from communications by forces of the People’s Liberation Army, there is no way that any military intervention here and now, could be in any way covered up or hidden from direct world view. So sounder minds on all sides should be saying that direct confrontational action on the part of Xi’s government should be impossible now, in addressing this challenge to authority. But I do not know what will happen, or how much Xi Jinping would feel he can back down without losing face, and a measure of his power.

I write this now on September 30, 2014 and post it to go live the next day on October 1 as an In the News benchmark posting and in acknowledgement that I write here in this series, not from the perspective of history’s distance but from that of today’s news and its immediacy – even if I am more historian than reporter.

So I post this fractional number posting entry in this series here and now and will add an updating note to the end of Part 13 on its issues if needed, before that goes live. And I will write further on this complex of issues in subsequent postings. I see both Hong Kong and China as a whole, facing a major turning point in their histories, once officially separate and now fully recombined again, and with crucial first steps of that taking place in the coming weeks and months. And however this crisis is resolved there can be no return to any status quo antes – only recognition of new normals, and hopefully positive and mutually constructive ones.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business and in In the News.

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