Beijing folds on Hong Kong extradition law, but the genie is out of the bottle
After lots of growling from Beijing about how the communist regime wouldn't "sit on its hands" over the massive protests disrupting Hong Kong, and new threats to "show no mercy" to the protesters, the Chicoms have folded.
Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed puppet leader, Carrie Lam, has withdrawn the extradition bill that triggered the protests, the one that permitted Beijing to freely snatch back anyone who displeases Red China to face what passes for "justice" in the communist dictatorship.
According to the New York Times:
HONG KONG — Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, said Wednesday that the government would withdraw a contentious extradition bill that ignited months of protests in the city, moving to quell the worst political crisis since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 22 years ago.
The move eliminates a major objection among protesters, but it was unclear if it would be enough to bring an end to intensifying demonstrations, which are now driven by multiple grievances with the government.
"Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people," she said in an eight-minute televised statement broadcast shortly before 6 p.m. "We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times."
Her decision comes as the protests near their three-month mark and show little sign of abating, roiling a city known for its orderliness and hurting its economy.
It is a striking concession from Beijing. But it's probably too little, too late.
The protests that have engulfed Hong Kong have morphed into cries for full democracy, something that has to be Beijing's worst nightmare. As Austin Bay, citing the reporting of Michael Yon on the ground in Hong Kong, has noted (hat tip: Instapundit), the protests have moved well into the realm of civil unrest. Anecdotally, the whole world has seen how they have featured American flags, the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner, and signs calling for a Second Amendment. Young Hong Kong leaders have turned up in Taiwan with talks about taking in refugees now. Even leftists in the states have started scolding each other for not taking a more assertive stance on standing up for the Hong Kongers.
There's a feeling a Rubicon has been crossed, a bridge has been burned.
The other thing worth noting in this is that Beijing's nightmare is far from over. The protests not only have engulfed Hong Kong, but are actually no longer about Hong Kong. Chinese citizens have been caught sneaking over the border into Hong Kong for no other reason than to join the protests. The impact of the protests has already spread — far into the Chinese interior and into Taiwan.
Gordon Chang, that most astute of Hong Kong observers, notes this:
Lam's formal withdrawal of the extradition bill will not placate #HongKong, but it could embolden people in #China to act on their own grievances. #XiJinping should now expect things to go badly for him everywhere. https://t.co/umg2k1Zni0— Gordon G. Chang (@GordonGChang) September 4, 2019
A genie seems to be out of the bottle. Beijing is going to have a hard time putting it back in.
Image credit: Base 64 and Carol Spears via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.