Friday, 10 Jul 2020

Opinion | A Visit to China: How Its People View Hong Kong

To the Editor:

“Will Hong Kong Become Tiananmen?,” by Madeleine Thien (Sunday Review, Aug. 18), is a reminder of the fact that the Communist Party of China never completely bought into the concept of “one country, two systems.”

I was in China in 1997 on the day that Britain returned the crown colony to China, and I have recently returned from a monthlong trip to western China visiting friends and family. The folks I spent the month with included middle-aged men and women who have seen changes in China that were unimaginable when they were born, and young people who have known only prosperity and good times.

The most important thing to many Chinese is order, and what is happening in Hong Kong does not look like order to them. Chinese society puts great value on success, but that success must be achieved within the parameters that Chinese society sets.

When I found myself in settings intimate enough that we could discuss the Hong Kong demonstrators, my friends and relatives said, “Hong Kong people are arrogant and need to be taught a lesson.”

The 1989 Tiananmen uprising occurred as the Warsaw Pact was in the process of self-destructing. The old men who gave up power in places like Prague and Warsaw realized it was time to go. The men in Beijing were not going to let that happen. Not in Beijing in 1989 and not in Hong Kong today.

Roland Nicholson Jr.

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