The 235 days that rat­tled China and shook the world

Antelope Valley Press - - Opinion -

WASHINGTON — They were 235 days that shook the world, rat­tled China’s regime and re­futed the most per­ni­cious wish­ful think­ing since the ap­pease­ment of dic­ta­tors col­lapsed eight decades ago. Noth­ing more mo­men­tous hap­pened in 2019 than Hong Kong’s heroic in­sur­rec­tion.

It be­gan with the April 3 in­tro­duc­tion by Bei­jing’s Hong Kong satraps of an ex­tra­di­tion bill that would have fa­cil­i­tated the sweep­ing of in­con­ve­nient peo­ple into the main­land’s sup­pres­sion ma­chin­ery that is both Kafkaesque and Or­wellian. The con­vul­sions cul­mi­nated in, but did not end with, Nov. 24’s cym­bal-crash elec­tions in which the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party (CCP), which had counted on the is­land city’s ma­jor­ity to re­buke the demon­stra­tors, learned the lim­its of its ster­ile pro­gram of pur­chas­ing sub­servience by promis­ing pros­per­ity.

Else­where on China’s pe­riph­ery, Tai­wan has a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in less than two weeks. China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping be­gan 2019 with a Jan. 2 speech iden­ti­fy­ing Tai­wan as the fo­cus of his cam­paign to make China great again. If — when, prob­a­bly — on Jan. 11, 2020, Tai­wan re­elects Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen, the Tai­wanese will have joined Hong Kongers in dis­dain­ing the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” fudge as a for­mula for the in­cre­men­tal suf­fo­ca­tion of free­dom.

Thirty au­tumns ago, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet Union teetered, ap­prox­i­mately 1.5 bil­lion peo­ple lived under com­mu­nist regimes. To­day, ap­prox­i­mately 1.5 bil­lion peo­ple still do. The 1989 fig­ure was 29% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion com­pared with 20% in 2019, but 89% of to­day’s 20% are caught in the tight­en­ing vise of China’s Lenin­ism, whose in­vi­o­lable tenet is that noth­ing shall chal­lenge the party’s supremacy.

With this year’s rev­e­la­tions about the mil­lion, or per­haps mil­lions, swept into the gu­lag ar­chi­pel­ago in North­west­ern China, it is pos­si­ble to hope that in 2020 we will hear less from Amer­i­can busi­ness­men who are as ob­tuse as they are cock­sure. Just 51 days be­fore The New York Times pub­lished more than 400 pages of doc­u­ments on China’s con­cen­tra­tion camps, pres­i­den­tial aspi­rant Michael Bloomberg said the CCP’s lead­ers “lis­ten to the public,” and “Xi Jin­ping is not a dic­ta­tor.”

Not con­tent to just “lis­ten to” the public, the CCP, us­ing ever-more-so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy, surveils al­most ev­ery­thing done by al­most ev­ery­one. Per­haps 2019 fore­shad­owed the day when to­day’s Bloombergs will be re­mem­bered as Charles Lind­bergh and oth­ers are re­mem­bered be­cause they thought dic­ta­tors in the 1930s were “the wave of the fu­ture.”

Would that Amer­ica’s serial grov­el­ers had the gump­tion of the cre­ators of “South Park.” When China, a sup­pos­edly great power that was ac­tu­ally dis­com­bob­u­lated by this an­i­mated TV se­ries, banned it, the cre­ators said: “We wel­come the Chi­nese cen­sors into our homes and into our hearts . ... Xi doesn’t look just like Win­nie the Pooh at all . ... Long live the Great Com­mu­nist Party of China! May this au­tumn’s sorghum har­vest be boun­ti­ful! We good now China?”

“We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also stand­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi,” said Amer­ica’s pres­i­dent, who also said of Xi: “He’s a friend of mine.” Xi should re­cip­ro­cate friendly feel­ings be­cause Don­ald Trump’s big­gest blun­der, made three days after his in­au­gu­ra­tion, was jet­ti­son­ing the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, thereby un­rav­el­ing a 12-na­tion fab­ric of com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion that ex­cluded China.

Two other Trump chums are Rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. The for­mer con­tin­ued his in­cre­men­tal dis­mem­ber­ment of Europe’s ge­o­graph­i­cally largest na­tion, Ukraine, and the lat­ter took Trump’s warning against at­tack­ing the Kurds as se­ri­ously as Trump meant it.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un does not have to set­tle for mere friend­ship — in 2018 Trump said “we fell in love” — but in 2019 the ro­mance seemed un­re­cip­ro­cated. Kim ended a 522day self-im­posed mora­to­rium on bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests, but Trump min­i­mized their im­por­tance be­cause the mis­siles could not reach the con­ti­nen­tal United States — just South Korea, Ja­pan and the 80,000 U.S. forces in both places. How­ever, North Korea has given Trump un­til right now — the end of this cal­en­dar year — to make ad­di­tional U.S. con­ces­sions, be­yond the scal­ing back of joint U.S.-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, to avoid “shock­ing pun­ish­ment.” Fresh con­ces­sions are North Korea’s price for re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions that will lead, if the fu­ture is like the last 25 years, to other con­ces­sions.

How­ever, be­cause nu­clear weapons are at is­sue, you must re­mem­ber this: In 1945, hav­ing wit­nessed the New Mex­ico birth of some­thing used on Ja­pan three weeks later, the Man­hat­tan Pro­ject’s lead­ers would have been have been pleas­antly sur­prised had they known that 2019 would be the 73rd year with­out the use of what they had cre­ated. Some­times what does not hap­pen is it­self mo­men­tous.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.