Congratulations to Hong Kong. The protests worked.
Or did they?
This morning, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced that she has withdrawn the controversial extradition bill that initially sparked mass demonstrations over the last few months.
It’s only one of the five demands that protestors need fulfilled before a ceasefire is called; which include the resignation of Lam, the end of government-driven misinformation about the protests, an independent inquiry into the police department’s actions, criminal immunity for all protestors, and of course, the withdrawal of the extradition bill.
The demonstrators can check one “item” off their list today in what has not only been a partial victory for Hong Kong, but civil liberty in the Far East. A small, wealthy nation faced off against the influence of Communist China.
And Communist China blinked, for all the world to see.
A national crisis has quickly turned into international shame for President Xi Jinping, causing equities to rise mightily stateside.
The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq Composite were all up pre-market after the news broke. Unsurprisingly, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong erupted as well, rallying more than 4% following Lam’s statement.
“The government will formally withdraw the bill in order to fully allay public concerns. The Secretary for Security will move a motion according to the Rules of Procedure when the Legislative Council resumes,” Lam said.
“Our foremost priority now is to end violence, to safeguard the rule of law and to restore order and safety in society. As such, the government has to strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts.”
And though the extradition bill has been taken care of, it appears as though Lam isn’t willing to meet the protesters’ other demands. If the demonstrators are serious, and protests won’t stop until all five action items are taken care of, then today’s Hong Kong-driven rally may be a bit premature.
Don’t forget that just a few weeks ago, the strife in Hong Kong caused equities to sink significantly. One of Asia’s largest financial centers was in crisis.
And as of this morning, it still technically is.
Protestors have refused to back down following the bill withdrawal, while China continues to hire gangs of anti-Hong Kong thugs to do the “dirty work” police can’t – like attacking crowds of peaceful demonstrators with improvised weapons.
Based on the market’s reaction, though, you’d think that the whole fiasco is over and done with.
Sadly, it’s not. The extradition bill was simply the tip of the iceberg for the people of Hong Kong, who have lived under the increasingly oppressive shadow of China for decades. Finally, they’re fighting back.
And they won’t stop until they’ve achieved independence (or near-independence) – something that could cost investors dearly if tensions boil over once again.
It’s like the classic children’s story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which describes the slippery slope of giving in to someone’s demands.
As of this morning, the Hong Kong Protestors just got their “cookie”.
And now they want a glass of milk to go with it.