Anderson’s Input

Political turmoil in China begins new era

Anderson Blum, Columnist

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For decades while China has been achieving incredible economic growth, observers have been wearily expecting the nation to reach its full potential and come head-to-head with the United States in the global struggle for power. This year in Hong Kong, we are seeing the first major proxy confrontation of this conflict that could define an era.

You may have heard about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, but here is a little bit of background: since being returned to China by the UK in 1997, Hong Kong has legally maintained a high degree of political freedom from the People’s Republic of China, being considered a gateway to the West. By 2047, Chinese law mandates, Hong Kong will be fully integrated into the Chinese political system. Over the years, the Chinese Communist Party has begun to limit the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong, and their most recent encroachment, an attempt to allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China, has sparked millions in the city to protest for their freedom.

The USA, as the de facto “leader of the free world,” can not ignore this situation. Hong Kong protesters wave American flags because they see American democracy as a beacon of hope as they begin worrying for their future. It is important that we uphold this perceived reputation of freedom. The whole world is looking to us for guidance, and actions like putting migrant children in cages or claiming 22% of the world’s prison population do not help the global image of freedom.

Apart from acting like the democracy we’re supposed to be, the United States can do even more for the freedom struggle in Hong Kong. While the Trade War is putting a heavy and unnecessary strain on US-China relations, coming to an agreement over Hong Kong could help steer the relationship towards peace. Instead of fighting the silly economic conflict with no exit strategy, Donald Trump could shift his focus and demand freedom for Hong Kong in exchange for an end to the pointless tariff contest.

China is definitely interested in ending the Trade War (as are the people of the United States), and it can easily be argued that freedom for Hong Kong is not a bad thing for the Communist Party of China. In fact, free Hong Kong was partially responsible for China’s economic boom. If Donald Trump uses these fact to his advantage in negotiations, he could accomplish both a return to economic stability and freedom for Hong Kong. Let’s hope that he can set his ego aside and navigate this situation successfully.

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