ANDRE HACOBIAN WRITES—Recently, against the backdrop of escalating violence, protesters marched through the streets of Hong Kong, waving American flags while singing the Star Spangled Banner. They love freedom, democracy and the American way—as they perceive it.
They also want America’s help. A lot of it.
Recently, as police fired teargas into the Causeway Bay shopping district, protesters gathered in front of the US Consulate, urging US government intervention. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, while in Paris a few weeks ago, called on China to show some restraint toward the protesters. Similarly, U.S. President Donald Trump has called on China to refrain from violence while working to resolve the ongoing protests.
Where there is hysteria, there is history — a long history, in which America was not involved. Remember: Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, on the premise of: one country (China), two systems. This was supposed to afford Hong Kong its own economic and administrative infrastructures while maintaining a good measure of independence from the mainland—yet still be part of China. The people of Hong Kong wanted to maintain the freedoms they believe that Chinese mainlanders lack.
For that 1997 moment, America was not there. And so ultimately, the Hong Kong people and the China government in Beijing will have to reach a settlement. America can coach, advise or help—but it is not to fully intervene.