Everything You Need to Know About What’s Going on in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a situation unfolding that is not necessarily an accurate read for the political climate and social perception of the Communist party in mainland China. Having studied abroad in Shanghai at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, I can say with confidence that as for open protest in China (like we see with Hong Kong), it’s a different story. The reliability of the so-called “Umbrella movement” is definitely there for Chinese people, but with Hong Kong there has always been this certain disconnect. The “one country, two systems” setup, used to manage the port since the transfer of Hong Kong in July of 1997 to Chinese hands has created this distance.
President Xi Jinping, the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, remains well-liked and is perceived even just one year into his presidency as an improvement over China’s former leader the impersonal Hu Jintao. Having secured natural gas contracts with a few Central Asian Republics, including a pipeline with Turkmenistan, Jinping has supplemented China’s growth with alternative resources. Xi Jinping also connects with the middle-aged, being 61 and coming from a “red” background meaning his father served the Communist Party of China diligently back in the day.
Aside from the popularity of Xi Jinping, China-not Hong Kong-faces a list of issues waiting to be voiced. Most if not all of China’s domestic problems stem from overpopulation, which gave way to the controversial “One Child Policy” and an outline to preserve locales both rural/urban called the Hukou system. These two procedures have altered the organization of Chinese society so much so that Chinese graduates actively seek ways to get around them. Another way to attain a second hukou certificate for instance is to find a job somewhere else outside of home, so Chinese students purposely apply for jobs either abroad or in Shanghai (the Shanghai hukou is very coveted though because of the demand).
Above all, the Chinese Government faces contest from minority groups seeking greater autonomy. Given the Kunming attacks and roadside bombings at Urumuchi earlier this year, tensions between the state and its diverse amount of ethnic groups are at an all time high. Motivated by the power of violence, the terrorists behind Kunming advocated for the creation of East Turkestan or the Uygur state in Western china, which is today defined by the Xinjiang region. Feeling marginalized, extremists are attacking the state to generate fear and a sense of public insecurity. As a result the state’s capability to protect its people is more tested, directly affecting the trust Chinese people have in their government.
The Chinese government’s standing over China is not jeopardized for the time being, but Hong Kong’s entire administration is. Chief Executive of Hong Kong CY Leung is being called by protesters to step down. How long will it be until something like this happens in mainland China? It could be soon or simply never happen, with a number of Chinese students opting to continue their studies at American universities, I do think that they are catching onto Hong Kong’s train of thought. Liberal leaning institutions, will teach young Chinese students to think contrarily to the dictation of their government, with classes offered in political science and philosophy. They also now have access to information previously blocked by the renowned “Great Firewall of China” that monitors websites like Wikipedia and doesn’t allow YouTube in China.
The 21st Century has been dubbed the “Chinese Century” by Chinese people everywhere, with the success of Shanghai as the symbol of this momentum. Really at hand however are a range of political obstacles that should be addressed. Chinese people may sympathize and applaud for what’s going down in Hong Kong, but until they do the same in their capital of Beijing and ask questions from their government then Hong Kong will continue down its separate path towards fair democratic processes.
Christian Westermann | News Cult