Show an ad over header. AMP

Hong Kong's fate could represent the death of globalism

A new security law in Hong Kong is the latest blow to a globalist vision of the free movement of people, ideas and capital.

Why it matters: The law all but eliminates the civil rights that people in Hong Kong have exercised for years. But it also points the way to a more dangerous and divided world that will be increasingly defined by borders and nationality.


What's happening: At 11pm local time on June 30, the Chinese government released the details of a security law long in the works that effectively criminalizes pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It also gives Beijing wide latitude to treat Hong Kong citizens suspected of security violations with the same draconian approach used in mainland China.

  • After thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the law on July 1 — the 23rd anniversary of the city's transfer to Beijing's control — police arrested more than 300 people, including at least nine over new offenses created by the law.

Between the lines: While Hongkongers will be the first and primary victims of the law, its passage casts doubt on the future of the place that has long branded itself as "Asia's World City."

  • If globalization could be said to have a capital, it would have been Hong Kong — or more precisely, its gleaming international airport, used by 71.5 million passengers from around the world last year.
  • The city's freewheeling capitalism, and its location geographically inside but politically outside of China, made Hong Kong rich, with its per capita GDP rising from $429 in 1960 to nearly $50,000 in 2018.
  • More than that, Hong Kong was a place where East and West could mingle, home to a pungent press, and overseen by an independent judiciary and civil service that was internationally respected for its adherence to the rule of law.

Hong Kong's economic primacy declined after it returned to Beijing's control in 1997 and China itself began to open up to the rest of the world, but Hong Kong's value as a symbol of globalism only increased.

  • The hope of many in the West was that China would become more like Hong Kong and that the influence of global capitalism would lead Beijing to become politically more liberal over time.
  • This was globalization Hong Kong-style — economic and a growing degree of political freedom, and membership in a near-borderless world.

Yes, but: In truth, that vision only ever applied to a minority of actual Hongkongers, many of whom resented the city's extreme inequality and were all too aware that even under the British, Hong Kong had never been a real democracy.

  • These are the people who have taken to the streets off and on for 17 years, dating back to July 1, 2003, when half a million Hongkongers marched in opposition to proposed national security legislation — an early version of the law now being imposed on them.

The big picture: That free Hong Kong seems near death, as does the broader globalist vision the city represented.

  • Beijing, far from liberalizing, seems increasingly eager to impose its rules on the rest of the world. That includes the new security law, which explicitly applies beyond Hong Kong's borders and to non-Hong Kong residents, potentially making what was long an open city unsafe to anyone perceived as an enemy of Beijing.
  • Growing economic tensions between the U.S. and China have fractured free trade, and even the global internet is increasingly breaking down along national lines.
  • International borders that were once porous, like those between EU nations or the U.S. and Canada, have been shut because of the coronavirus, and it's far from clear when they will reopen.

The bottom line: Hong Kong was far from perfect and it was far from fully free. But at its best, it represented a hope for a brighter, more global future — a vision now dimmed by the old forces of nationalism and disease.

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

Keep reading... Show less

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

Keep reading... Show less

Off the rails: Inside Air Force One ahead of Trump's last stand in Georgia

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

If both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — the two embattled Georgia senators he was campaigning for — lost their runoff elections the following day, the GOP would lose control of the U.S. Senate. And Trump did not want the blood of Georgia on his hands.

Keep reading... Show less

Parler shows signs of life

Far-right-friendly social network Parler is beginning to resurface after going dark last week following a series of bans by Google, Apple and Amazon.

The big picture: By getting a new internet provider that's friendly to far-right sites, Parler — home to a great deal of pro-insurrection chatter before, during and after the Capitol siege — may have found a way to survive despite Big Tech's efforts to pull the plug.

Keep reading... Show less

Historian Michael Beschloss: Trump has "no business" dictating who is an American hero

Data: Trump Executive Order and Axios reporting. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Delivering on a promise he made at Mount Rushmore this summer, President Trump yesterday released his 244 candidates for a "National Garden of American Heroes."

By the numbers: Men outnumber women nearly four to one (192 to 52). 86 of the nominees,nearly a third, were born between 1900 and 1950. 

Keep reading... Show less

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply — as expected

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Keep reading... Show less

First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Keep reading... Show less

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories