Monthly Archives: October 2014

What are the risks and opportunities connected with the protests in Hong Kong?

Pasu Au Yeung/Flickr/Creative Commons

During the last weeks, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations in Hong Kong, demanding – in different ways and forms – more democracy. The protests were set in motion when China’s National People’s Congress announced that candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 chief executive elections would have to be approved by a Beijing-controlled committee; this, according to the protesters, contradicts the principle of universal suffrage that was established in the handover agreement in 1997. More recently some of the protest leaders became more daring and called for “self-determination” and “independence”.

So far, no meaningful procedure of conflict resolution has been established. The Beijing leadership tries to remain invisible, but calls the shots behind the curtains. The local administration is general powerless and clueless. Increasingly, ‘ordinary’ Hong Kong citizens feel embarrassed and harassed by the ongoing blockades of main thoroughfares and businesses.
In the mainland, many mid-level officials explain their conviction that the current form of governances is not sustainable. Against this background, Hong Kong could also be treated as a laboratory. But currently, the dominant position seems to be to prevent by (virtually) all means a June 4, 2.0. From the outside it is not clear what, if any, spaces for compromise exists.

, , , , , , , , ,

Violence is making a come-back into Western societies – how are we prepared for this? Is looking the other way a solution?

Never since about half a century back, the world was in such a disarray as now. There is a whole range of failed, or failing, states in the MENA area: Afghanistan, Pakistan (nuclearized), Iraq, Syria, Libya, Palestine.
Sectarian violence is on the rise, and a strange caliphate shows the world how easy it can be impressed by a few beheadings.
Lesson 1: violence pays off. In Europe, the Russian aggression against Ukraine – stealing Crimea and meddling in provinces – trashed the post-Cold War order in Central Europe.
Lesson 2: violence pays off. In East Asia, there is an intensifying anatgonism allegedly about hundreds of rocks in he East and South China Seas, wrapped in the language of sovereignty, and targeted at assumed energy potentials. The climate between China and Japan, on the one hand, and Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei, on the other hand, is deteriorating rapidly.
Lesson 3: violence may pay off. The current protests in Hongkong may initiate new unrest in mainland China as well: Violence as identity currency.
Europe seems to be suspiciously unprepared for this new wave of violence. Can we afford to ignore it? What if ‘talking’ doesn’t lead anywhere?