Monday, September 08, 2008

Hong Kong and the Beijing bounceback

Here in the United States, talk of a "bounce" was centered on the Republican and Democratic conventions. In Hong Kong, however, it was a "Beijing bounce" that overawed the political culture. In theory, a surge of "patriotism" from the Communist Olympiad would lead to smashing pro-Beijing victories in Hong Kong's Legislative Council (half the seats are elected by the people, the other half by "functional constituencies," i.e., group designed to ensure a pro-Communist majority).

However, like nearly everything else about the Games, the intended effect was nowhere to be found (BBC). Pro-democracy candidates won 60% of the vote (again - BBC) a majority of the elected seats (again), and even took a couple of the functionals (again). The result was so shocking that the city had its own Dewey-defeats-Truman moment, courtesy of the Hong Kong Standard. So, here, even in a city under Communist control with limited liberty, the Communists' Olympic game plan went awry.

Things have been no better outside Communist China. Japan is still concerned over the Communist military (Japan Times); Communist espionage in Canada continues to be front-page news (Ottawa Citizen) and Europe (London Telegraph); businesses around the world are having second thoughts about using Communist China as an export platform (Washington Post); the Long Arm of Lawlessness continues to rankle in New York (Epoch Times); and even the Communists' claim to Taiwan was turned against them by Congressman Elton Gallegly, who cleverly used it to demand the regime make good on $260 billion in Nationalist Chinese debt (Washington Times).

Even elsewhere inside Communist China, things are less than what the cadres had expected: protests in Hunan (Epoch Times), a Paralympiad that merely highlights how terrible the regime treats the disabled (Radio Free Asia via Epoch Times and the Washington Post), Sichuan earthquake victims demanding to know what happened to aid promised them (Sound of Hope via Epoch Times), soaring inflation (Epoch Times), and a teenage girl beaten by police (Epoch Times).

About all the Communists can do is declare war on the German press (Epoch Times) and try to divert attention to its space program (BBC), although the Korean colony had a good weekend (One Free Korea).

Still, the big news is in the former British colony. The Communists have now had over a decade to try and wear down and overwhelm the Hong Kong democrats - once united as the Democratic Party and now split among several parties. Yet the regime has always failed. This was their best chance. They had the urbane Donald Tsang as Chief Executive instead of the deeply unpopular Tung Chee-hwa; they had years of building goodwill with democratic nations that should know better; and, of course, they had the Olympics.

In the end, though, it got them nothing in Hong Kong. The voters refused to be seduced by Tsang, or the Games, or anything else. In the one place where democracy was allowed to live - for the express purpose of dying so the Communists could showcase the body to the rest of China - it has continued to survive because the people of Hong Kong refuse to let it expire.

The people of Hong Kong have shown uncommon bravery, compassion, and concern for their fellow man at the ballot box. They live a quiet heroism the cadres fear, and the free world must not ignore (including certain bloggers who usually focus on rural unrest).

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