Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 8, 2017

The US media is pulling out a trump card that has been hiding in the deck since 2016. Otto, a traveling student, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by the Kim dynasty for touching a government propaganda poster. Now, his parents are near tears on national television as released film of the large assembly sitting in approval of his sentencing replay in homes across America and the world.

Otto is only one person. His parents know this. Americans know this. But, Otto is one person whom Americans can identify with to understand all the others. Americans can understand why China is preparing for Korean refugees.

The story is beyond bad press. Skinny people seen collecting grass in parks, skinny soldiers working on farms to get enough food to eat, people pushing their own buses when they run out of gasoline, and no reports of what is happening in Korean hard labor camps—and now pretty-handsome college boy is put in a labor camp for touching a poster? What’s next, hating pink ponies, baby kittens, and Santa Clause?

There’s no defense for keeping North Korea. Not even Russia can object if the US peppers Pyongyang with BLU-82 “Daisy Cutters”.

On Friday China’s Finance Minister Xiao Jie left an annual conference in Japan for an “emergency domestic meeting” in China. No one knows why, not even Forbes or their friends in Hong Kong.

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Cadence of Conflict: Asia, November 7, 2016

China had been doing so well. Hong Kong had one of the best democratic systems of representation in the world—allowing a plurality of representatives to be elected in each legislative district. Since the Crown left Hong Kong, the number of newspapers went from three to countless. Hong Kong became a world city, dearly loved from the four corners of the world.

Then, it all changed.

The decline began with a natural sentiment against status quo. That wasn’t enough by itself. China, having possessed Hong Kong for just over 15 years, declared that politicians would be vetted for being pro-China in advance. That was the first clue.

Foreseeable anger was ignited by likely influence from media mogul Jimmy Lia—who to this day captured some of the best photojournalism of protests he likely created. The “Umbrella Movement” started as a face, but was given a name when police used pepper spray, provoking the crowds to respond with umbrellas. The Western media’s influence can’t be ruled out, but neither can many factors.

Latest episodes of the ongoing Hong Kong drama included the recent elections. A few students from the Umbrella Movement protests were running. A number of pro-Independance candidates were not allowed to run after Hong Kong mandated a pro-China affidavit signed in advance—and the election office could decide if the signers were “sincere”. Two Umbrella students seemed to get past the process and were elected, but not allowed to take their oaths. This week, after turmoil, disruption, and well-covered attention from international press, the State-run People’s Daily declares that they should never take their oaths. Beijing will decide next week. Beijing also removed Hong Kong’s minister of finance, Lou Jiwei, 66.

The argument against pro-Independence legislators is rooted in the Basic Law, a kind of Constitution for Hong Kong. The Basic Law states that Hong Kong is part of China. All laws are open to request for review. China and India both did with Britain. But, in this situation, there is no distinction explained as to the right or wrong way Hong Kongers may ask to seceded. It’s all either forced or just not allowed.

Beijing miscalculated. Free people, such as in Hong Kong and much of the West, must be governed and laws must be controlled. Things work reverse of that way in China. Perhaps China’s control of Hong Kong would have gone better had there been a powerful British advisory envoy to help China understand the newly acquired anomaly called Hong Kong SAR. But, the Chinese don’t like to take advice and the British don’t like to give it.

Hong Kong could have been happy without changes. But no one liked status quo, not the people, not even Beijing, and arguably not the Crown. The question remains unanswered: Was it Beijing’s goal to incite Hong Kongers to rise up by vetting people before rather than reviewing laws after? Or, was it the Crown’s goal to allow China to irritate the dragon by not training Beijing how to ride it yet handing over the reigns? Was it all a plot from the Western press who just want to sell newspapers? Or, is it all some alien plot managed from a secret extraterrestrial base on the moon? All possibilities remain equally on the table since we don’t really know what’s actually going on.

It is unlikely that China wanted Hong Kong to break down. It was one of the best things China had going. Hong Kong won’t be the same. Change is coming before China promised and before Britain required, one way or another.

Hong Kong didn’t see the only shuffle in the Western Pacific. Taiwan was booted from Interpol. The guesses as to that hidden hand and its motive are much less vague than guesses about Hong Kong’s.

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