Why America Must Stand Up for Hong Kong’s Democracy Movement

Mike Gonzalez | 17 July 2014 | The Heritage Foundation

Loath to become the world’s policeman, the Obama administration has turned instead into its fireman. Hither and thither, the administration runs to different corners of the world trying to put out fires—today Central America, tomorrow Jerusalem, next week Syria. Such an approach may rack up air miles for the Secretary of State, but clearly, it’s no substitute for a preventive blueprint that safeguards our national interest.

As it happens, one part of the world experiencing a mini–flare up—Hong Kong—affords us an opportunity to pursue a long-term strategy pertaining to a much larger actor: China. Our foreign-policy challenges would ease considerably if China became a normal, status-quo country with elections, free markets and checks and balances that its leaders could use to manage internal tensions.

Allowing the 7.1 million people of Hong Kong to practice real democracy would let the authorities in Beijing see up close that there’s nothing to fear from a sovereign people. Over time, familiarity with democratic practices in this one Chinese city would help China’s leaders acquire for themselves the frame of mind needed to begin to introduce universal suffrage on the mainland itself.

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