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In Hong Kong's 2019 civil upheaval, China's communist dictatorship confronts two intricate information-age political battles.
One battle is a clash of national narratives, regionally with suspicious neighbors (including Hong Kong) who resist Chinese expansion, globally as the regime's most potent international adversary, the U.S., squeezes Beijing economically and cajoles it politically. For example, the U.S. threatens China with legal action and economic penalties for its pervasive theft of intellectual property. China has yet to effectively counter that verifiable charge.
State - Diplomatic - Reliability - Credibility - Prestige
Perceived state diplomatic and economic reliability, systemic credibility and cultural prestige are the stakes in this clash.
The second battle is for the Chinese Communist Party's authoritarian self-preservation -- in blunt terms, communist elites remaining in power.
Beijing - Power - Grab - Extradition - Law
A deplorable Beijing power grab, the Extradition Law, ignited Hong Kong's weeks of protests.
The 2019 protests, however, intentionally echo brutal Chinese history that scars the Chinese Communist Party.
Hong - Kong - Demonstration - March - Anniversary
Hong Kong's first major demonstration was a march commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In Beijing on June 4, 1989, the People's Liberation Army, on the order of leader Deng Xiaoping, attacked peaceful pro-freedom protestors and murdered over 2,000.
Hong Kong's 2019 reformers invoke Tiananmen 1989 as a warning that authoritarian brutality comes with a cost. Despite drastic efforts to literally erase the event's historical reality, for three decades, Tiananmen's dark "tiger" has haunted the regime, seeding distrust of regime motives and encouraging quiet resistance to the party dictators.
Politburo - Amounts - Money - Information - Eg
The Politburo knows it's distrusted. It spends massive amounts of money attempting to control information (e.g. digitally erasing internet mention of Tiananmen) and police Chinese citizens. Its Social Credit Rating system collects data on a particular person from cellphones, public video cameras, internet activity, travel logs and the opinion of neighbors. Security operatives analyze the individual's behavior, looking for criminal patterns or -- get ready -- signs of anti-government behavior.
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