The West Lost the Right to Protect Citizens of Hong Kong in 1997
I feel for the Hong Kong protesters. Hong Kongers are accustomed to Western freedom, and that freedom has shaped their souls. Their oppression by the Chinese Communist Party must feel like a foreign invasion, because, in many respects, it is.
Most conservative pundits share this feeling with me. In many cases, the feeling leads them to advocate running political interference against the CCP's crack-downs on the political protests that continue to crop up in the region. The Hong Kongers' occasional usage of American symbols of freedom in their protests only tugs harder at these conservatives' heart-strings. For David French, the fact that the CCP will likely crack down on Hong Kong's churches turns American meddling in the region into a moral imperative.
This shared, completely understandable sentiment should be resisted by reason. No Western nation has a right to interfere in Hong Kong, and any political meddling on our part will only make things worse.
The West had the right to protect Hong Kong's citizens. We gave that up when, in 1997, Britain willingly handed the colony over to China in exchange for nothing but a feeling of supreme moral virtue. Until 1997, Hong Kongers were citizens of the West with all the rights and protections that come with that designation. After 1997, they became citizens of China—Western souls trapped in an Eastern autocracy.
Make no mistake about it, those advocating Western political interference in the Hong Kong situation are advocating colonialism by another name. Any assertion that citizens of Hong Kong deserve the protection of Western governments whenever their Western rights are infringed is nothing short of a declaration of Western hegemony over the region. If we are going to make such a declaration, we should make it boldly and unequivocally. Either re-colonize or don't re-colonize, but do so openly.
Hiding behind the facade of "internationalism" or "human rights" is a cruel joke. When push comes to shove, Western nations will not commit the resources necessary to defend a territory like Hong Kong against the full might of the Chinese war machine without a claim of territorial sovereignty. China, on the other hand, who has such a claim, absolutely will. The CCP knows that Western babbling about violations of United Nations resolutions, etc., is so much meaningless twaddle. What a terrible shame it would be if our twaddle gave vain hopes to Western souls with lives on the line in Hong Kong!
Moreover, any meddling by Western nations in Eastern affairs will likely make matters worse. China sees America as its greatest geo-political foe. The Chinese feel about American flags waving on their soil the way Americans would feel about flags of the CCP waving on American soil. Imagine, for a second, what it would be like if it were discovered that the CCP had bank-rolled a portion of the Black Lives Matter movement. Would that benefit the cause of BLM? Of course not. Neither will our agitations benefit the Hong Kong protesters.
What, then, should we do? Two things.
First, fight the Culture War. Keep pointing out the hypocrisy of corporate hacks and athletes who toe the CCP line at the behest of their money managers. Unlike former-president Bush, Trump is unafraid to disinvite people to the White House or even to openly criticize them on national television. This is a good thing. Negative public pressure from the bully pulpit is the least we can do to punish our own mega-millionaires who peddle Chinese propaganda or perform censorship on behalf of the CCP.
Second, adjust our immigration laws to acknowledge the fact that Hong Kongers are trapped, Western souls. Trump has rightly restricted travel/immigration from China, but these restrictions should be eased in the case of Hong Kong so that those who want to flee CCP oppression for the cause of "freedom" can bring their businesses to our shores. I can think of no better punishment for Chinese communists than for America to absorb all the fruits of capitalism that their own oppressive policy squanders.