Will the protests in Hong Kong and the vandalising of the legislative council HQ provoke a military intervention by China, to attempt to subdue the once British-controlled region?
|The people protest ... Hong Kong will have learned from Britons what to do when you're not happy with government decisions. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the image, 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests. Studio Incendo [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]|
And Hong Kong citizens weren’t required to forego their English ways because China did agree to guarantee Hong Kong's economic and political systems for 50 years after the transfer – you’ll know the phrase, ‘one country, two systems’.
Onto the streets
Like Brits back home, the locals know that if you resent something badly enough, or fear a likely move by government, get out onto the streets and make your ill-feelings known.
Which of course, the ex-colonials did this weekend.
Not so very long ago, from a historical point of view, transfer of ownership of a country would be performed by the military, with no reference to local opinion.
Locals would do as they were ordered, or be shot. Often, it seems, they were shot anyway.
One of our great thinkers, Samuel Johnson – ‘Dr Johnson’ – had strong condemnation to offer when Britain argued over another island, Falklands.
One of his most powerful pieces of writing is a 1771 pamphlet entitled Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland's Islands.
|In the Seven Years War, for every man who died in battle, an incredible total of 88 died of disease.’|
'A crisis had flared up between Britain and Spain over that small archipelago, three hundred miles off the coast of Argentina', writes Leo Damrosch.
No possible benefit to Britain
Johnson argued convincingly that the island, ‘the barren territory’ could produce nothing of value and had no possible benefit to Britain.
Should China contemplate putting an army into Hong Kong to end rebellion, let its soldiers read Dr Johnson’s history.
‘It is wonderful with what coolness and indifference the greater part of mankind see war commenced. … The life of a modern soldier is ill represented by heroic fiction. …
‘War has means of destruction more formidable than the cannon and the sword. Of the thousands and ten thousands that perished in our late contests with France and Spain, a very small part ever felt the stroke of an enemy; the rest languished in tents and ships, amidst damps and putrefaction; pale, torpid, spiritless, and helpless; gasping and groan¬ing, unpitied among men made obdurate by long continuance of hopeless misery; and were at last whelmed in pits, or heaved into the ocean, without notice and without remembrance…
Leo Damrosch offers this astonishing statistic: ‘In an era when there was no effective defence against infectious disease, the toll among soldiers could be staggering.
'In the Seven Years War, for every man who died in battle, an incredible total of 88 died of disease.’