China at 70

Written by: Pitman B. Potter 
Posted on: October 2, 2019

The 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China saw striking contrasts between the patriotic submission on display in Beijing with the principled resistance on the streets of Hong Kong over issues of rule of law and democracy. While in Beijing, an undemocratic regime used its control over the PRC legal system to clear the streets, order people to vacate their apartments, ban a range of activities like pigeon flying, kites, and sky lanterns, and restrict live entertainment venues, all to ensure National Day celebrations would not be disrupted, students in Hong Kong are in the streets protesting the lack of rule of law and democracy. The Hong Kong demonstrations are being applauded in Taiwan and among many Chinese communities around the world – putting the lie to the long-standing conceit that Chinese people don’t care about the rule of law and democracy. Instead, it would appear that Chinese people seem quite supportive of political systems that ensure accountability of the governing regime and protections for individual freedoms – for it is upon these that sustainable prosperity depends. There is a lesson here for everyone, namely that the desire for genuine political accountability and effective legal protection of civil and political rights is not unique to any particular society or ethnic group, but rather is more universal than the authoritarian PRC regime would have us believe.