Hong Kong

Jan Myrdal

To put it simply. The ongoing riots/uprisings in Hong Kong have their specific historical explanation. Seventy years ago, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai chose a different policy for China when it came to the British enclave of Hong Kong than Jawaharlal Nehru and Patel choose for India regarding the then when the British left formally independent state of Hyderabad. The People's liberation army stopped at the Hong Kong border and that enclave first remained as British and later in a special positions as another "system" on the Chinese mainland. For this they had reasons.

In India, Nehru and Patel made another assessment. The state of Hyderabad within India had formally when the British left declared itself independent but was occupied by the Indian army and incorporated with military force into the new Indian state on direct order by Interior Minister Patel with Nehru's silent consent.

The reason for Mao's and Zhu's decision was entirely rational. This background should therefore be discussed. I still believe that Mao and Zhou made a correct political assessment. For at least six decades, it proved to be hugely profitable for China not to do as Nehru and Patel did and allow the army to march in but let Hong Kong continue as first British and then in a special situation. Of course, an occupation would have been entirely possible. Sure, Britain and the United States would have come up with verbal protests. But they would not have triggered a specific war against the new China for this. The war conflict that later emerged and evolved to a possible nuclear war came to be wages on Korea. But even there in that war, it proved necessary for the United States to avoid the extreme, nuclear war, and eventually after a nasty bloody war, accept the ceasefire that still holds.

Hong Kong was allowed to continue as British despite the victorious People's Liberation Army being fully prepared and having marched up to its borders. Eventually it became an enclave on the Chinese mainland with a special "system" as this for decades was most economically profitable for China. It is evident that China's economic gain of Hong Kong as a capitalist enclave during the often turbulent Chinese build-up to its current position of strength was, as we can all figure out, enormous. This is not said openly in the "West". But so I have discussed it with Chinese friends. I also know that the knowledge exists in Swedish Foreign Ministry that this was the trade-off that caused Mao not to do with Hong Kong as Nehru at that time let Patel do in India.

I then considered and still consider today, that Mao despite all that is now happening in Hong Kong made the assessment that proved most profitable for China and one that for almost seven decades has made a major contribution to China's economic development.

Even when there is an ideological and political conflict between the "West" in general and China (for fully explainable and analysable economic reasons), it is both possible and sensible to look at these realities in the "West". Even when there is a direct conflict China's actions are both from a Chinese view politically realistic and from outside possible to understand as such.

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Vol. 52, No. 12, Sep 22 - 28, 2019