Tag: <span>Hong Kong</span>

Tiananmen Square Appeals

4 June: Memories of Tiananmen Square.

4 June makes the security forces in China somewhat uneasy, especially in Hong Kong where, in the past, there were large memorial meetings tp remind people of 4 June 1989 when the military and police moved against those who had been protesting publicly for over a month.  Students from colleges and universities in China’s capital initiated protests after the death of the former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Hu Yaobang on 15 April 1989 who was considered a liberal reformer. 

The movement then spread over a number of weeks to most of the major cities.  Students made numerous demands, among them were calls for an end to government corruption, increased funding for education, and freedom of the press.  As the movement went on, students were increasingly joined by industrial workers.

Hu Yaobang (1986). By dati.camera.it, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

There were differences of opinion within the ruling government circle as to how to deal with the protests.  As the protests continued, there was more and more international media attention, especially as there were an increasing number of journalists in Beijing in advance of the visit of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev with a large delegation of Soviet officials.

Mikhail Gorbachev in The White House Library, 12/8/1987. By Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Goddess of Democracy.

Students and intellectuals started writing petitions setting out demands that were signed by more and more people.  The decentralized structure of power and decisionmaking among groups in Tienanmen Square allowed for tactical innovation as each group was free to act as it desired and stress the symbols it wanted.  Thus art school students created the Goddess of Democracy, largely based on the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.  The growth in support for the student-led protests led the more anti-reformist faction in the government to order a crackdown by the military and the police.  The tanks started to move into Tiananmen Square.

Replica of the statue “Goddess of Democracy” from the Tiananmen square protests in 1989. Photo taken in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, during the commemoration event for the 21st anniversary of the massacre. Photo by MarsmanRom & Isa Ng, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Goddess of Democracy: 4 June 1989.

Democratization from Below.

Since June 1989 there have been reforms within China – what we might call “democratization from below” but without large scale, highly visible public protests.  ‘Stability’ and ‘harmony’ have been the stated government policy aims, coloured by the breakup of the Soviet Union and fundamental changes in Eastern Europe.  So democratization needs to proceed quietly and gradually.  Such democratization requires long-term vision and skilful leadership.  Democratization is basically linked to individualization, to an ever-larger number of people thinking for themselves, creating their own life styles and ‘thinking outside the box’.  It can be a slow process and repressive forces within the government watch events closely. 

However, it is likely that the direction of individualism is set and cannot be reversed.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

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South China Sea Appeals

Saber Rattling in the South China Sea.

Featured Image: The USS John S. McCain conducts a routine patrol in the South China Sea, Jan. 22, 2017. The guided-missile destroyer is supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez. By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Six days of Chinese naval maneuvers have begun on 6 August 2021 near southeast Hainan province in the South China Sea at the same time as war ships of the U.S.A, the United Kingdom, Australian Defence Forces ships and those of the Japan Self-Defense Forces are also training in the area. The South China Sea is fast becoming a theatre of brinkmanship.

“We view with concern China’s unlawful claim to the entire South China Sea – directly and negatively impacting all the countries in the region from their livelihood, wheither it be with fishing or access to natural resources.” said John Aquilino, commander ot the US Indo-Pacific Command at the Aspen Security Forum on 4 August. The U.S. Commander added that he was concerned by China’s suppression in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, as well as China’s military actions on the border with India. “These are the tings that lead me to believe that our execution of integrated deterrence has to occur now with a sense of urgency.”

John C. Aquilino

Admiral John C. Aquilino, USN Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. (April 2021). By United States Department of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi quickly replied that “foreign powers” must stop extending “black hands” in the South China Sea and show “four respects – respect for historic truth, inernational law, the countries of the region and their agreements.

China’s Global Times published a harsh editorial on the same lines warning to:

follow the current international shipping lanes and stay at least 12 nautical miles away from the Chinese islands and reefs…Stopping such intrusive behavior that violates China’s territorial waters is a struggle China is destined to intensify… Under international law, warships, including those of the US and its allies have been able to pass through the South China Sea unimpeded. But if those shipes want to exert geopolitical pressure and build a wall to contain China along those shipping lines, those warships will face a confrontation from China. And the intensity of the confrontation is bound to increase constantly.”

Wang Yi

On November 25, 2019, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi. By 首相官邸ホームページ, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

It is probable that the Cold War-like rhetoric in Washington has encouraged China’s siege mentality. While it is unlikely that there will be a deliberate use of violence by any party, there can be miscalculations and misinterpretations of actions. In addition to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei all make claims to some of the islands in the South China Sea. Slowly but surely, Beijing has been expanding its strategic influence in the South China Sea. The South China Sea islands and surrounding waters are crucial as potential military platforms, plausible points of strategic surveillance as well as sites of energy reserve.

It is in the interest of the world society that the tensions concerning the delimitations in the South China Sea be reduced. The current tensions could slip out of control.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

1 2 12