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Hong Kong and Puerto Rico: Two Colonies Doomed to Second-Class Status by Remote Central Government Control

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/24/hong-kong-and-puerto-rico-two-colonies-doomed-second-class-status-remote-central

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I usually gain some understanding of current events when I read Mr. Lindorff’s articles. This article contains very relevant information, especially the historical aspects of Hongkong’s and Puerto Rico’s formation and current status. However, I am disappointed by a couple of omissions and one mis"reading" of a past event.

The anniversary of the Tiananmen protests of 1989 happens every year, but it never really progressed to a point that is close to this year’s events in HK. The current protest really has a genesis in the reactions to the proposed amendments to the fugitive extradition law. Here’s where Mr. Lindorff fails to mention the case of a HK man who went to Taiwan with her girlfriend, where she was killed and the suspected killer was the HK boyfriend, who fled back to HK. There is no formal extradition agreement between Taiwan and HK to cover the case (a consequence of the HK handover agreements with China). The boyfriend is currently in jail for other offenses, but will be released in October, unless he can be extradited to Taiwan to face trial for the murder of the girlfriend.

Mr. Lindorff mentions that HK residents are afraid that the amendments to the fugitive extradition law represent a slippery slope to the erosion of HK residents democratic rights. The HK SAR headed by Madam Lam have made changes to the amendments to cover only crimes punishable by seven years jail time, and the procedures have been clarified in order to ensure that the fears of HK residents will not happen. But still, the protests continued, EVEN when the HK SAR announced that the amendment process has been stopped and officially “dead.” IMHO, the accusations that the extradition law amendments will be used to curtail “political rights” are just plain overblown and a lame excuse by organizers of the “radical” protesters to destabilize HK, which is indisputably part of the PRC.

The other omission is the level of violence that has been attributed to the more “radical” elements of the protesters. It is a very small minority compared with the generally peaceful protesters. However, the level of violence is quite high, AND the response of the HK police has been for the most part quite restrained. HK police have been cognizant that if they respond with more force, this would be picked up by western media as heavy handed violence. The worrying development is that other HK residents are now responding with violence against the more “radical” protesters. I think the local residents response has to do with the disrupted business in the city, where there are way less tourists and many shops have closed. Keep in mind that the Triads gang in HK is not at all dead and the local businesses probably have some connection to them.

Mr. Lindorff mentions Tiananmen protests of 1989 as an event that so-called pro-democracy protesters have in mind in these latest protest. Mr. Lindorff mentions the response of the PLA to the Tiananmen protests as being heavy-handed. I challenge him to produced ANY photo that would conclusively verify his allegation. I mention this because there are now reports in western media that the Tiananmen protests of 1989 was an example of western media manipulation. G o ogle this event and you’ll see the rebuttals by fair members of western media.

Thanks for reading.

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I never said that the protesters are thinking about June 4 and Tiananmen as they are protesting, though in fact in the back of their minds is the repressive government that did that massacre in '89, so in a way they are thinking of it. As for the legal case in question, my Hong Kong friends, and I have many from my years there-- people who are very plugged in including young people, are clear that the law in question is not that big a deal, but it is something that everyone finds repellent, given what they know about the Chinese “justice” system, which is pretty much still the Alice in Wonderland “verdict first, trial later” approach, and so it has been made a target. The demonstrations have moved beyond that now to focus on the undemocratic nature of the government, which is represented by the unelected and rather politically clumsy and fawning Beijing puppet Connie Lam.

I should add that I was in Hong Kong for a week and left three days before the protests began (unfortunately, because I had a flight booked for that date with my wife and it would have been too expensive to change the ticket), but it was already clear that something was brewing. The issue of the extradition law was hot at the time, and there was already talk among young people about joining protests both of that and of the 1989 massacre in Beijing. I wish I could have stayed for a while longer…

It’s unfortunate US Americans don’t get as charged up about issues as the people of Hong Kong do. We should be massing on the border to liberate the camps, and sitting in at the Pentagon again, not just signing internet petitions.

Dave Lindorff
founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

The protests in Puerto Rico have resulted in the resignation of the island’s governor. That’s quite a victory, though of course it does little to change the terrible crisis that is still facing the island – infrastructure that is still in disastrous shape following the hurricanes of two years ago, and a new hurricane season already underway, and a financial crisis far from solved, with no real help coming from Washington as the Trump administration continues to ignore the crisis. Many Puerto Ricans who can afford to do it have abandoned their home and moved to the mainland US looking for work and sanctuary from the ruined infrastructure. More than half a million Puerto Ricans have migrated from Puerto Rico since 2010, 130,000 of them after Hurricane Maria, leaving the island population at 3.2 million. Unlike migrations in the past, most of those fleeing their island this time have been professionals and middle-class people with assets and education. This is a body blow to the country’s future.

Dave Lindorff
founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

I guess a lot of people are thinking about comparing PR and HK. Here are a few ways they are different:

  1. Geographically HK is closer to the big country.
  2. HK belonged to China before it got loaned to Britain. PR was a colony of Spain, is now a commonwealth of the US, but before all that, it was independent.
  3. HK has a higher literacy rate and education level. In fact, among the higest in the world.
  4. HK has a higher standard of living.
  5. HK public transportation includes not only roads and airport, but also metro.