Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
On Christmas Eve, democracy protesters in Hong Kong ignored police warnings and began the countdown to midnight. The courageous young men wearing antlers wished the uniformed Communist regime thugs, “Merry Christmas”, and continued the fight.
While Time’s Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg, was yachting and traveling first class on trains, being feted at parties and getting giant murals painted of her, true activists were fighting against Communism
The protests over China’s brutal attempts to terrorize Hong Kong residents began in the spring and continued on into the summer, autumn and winter. Christmas is a traditionally cheerful time in this capitalist enclave of the People’s Republic which has a large Christian population who, unlike their mainlander cousins, are still free to worship, but it’s now marked by the brutality of the regime.
Christmas Eve saw clashes in shopping malls between protesters in Santa hats and gas masks, and Communist regime thugs, in and out of uniform, wielding guns, batons, and noxious sprays. While Greta’s environmentalist supporters claim that they’re opposed to consumerism, the protesters in Hong Kong were putting their bodies on the line in shopping malls to sabotage the shopping season.
Their message to Xi’s Communist regime, and to his puppets and allies in Hong Kong was that there would be no business as usual. The People’s Republic of China had avoided the catastrophic collapses that befell the Soviet Union and much of the Communist bloc by finding a balance between the economic prosperity of free market economies and the authoritarian control of Communism.
After Tiananmen Square, the Communist regime had bribed its populace with economic prosperity obtained through dirty trade tactics aimed at the United States of America and the entire world. The Hong Kong protesters are sending a message that they won’t trade shopping malls for freedom.
Protesters courageously fought so that Christmas in Hong Kong won’t be a Communist shopping mall.
The protests sent Hong Kong into a recession. Its third quarter GDP fell by 2.9%. Retail sales, of the kind represented by the mall shoppers, fell by 24.3% or $3.85 billion while tourism declined by 43%. And the city is on track for a budget deficit and a larger recession that will depress its prosperous economy.
Despite that, Hong Kong residents continue to support the protests because they know what’s at stake.
Democracy protesters are fighting China by taking their own economy hostage because freedom matters to them more than retail shopping. They’re sending China and the rest of the world a message that taking away their freedom will kill the golden goose. And challenging the devil’s bargain of cheap prosperity that China has used to convince their mainlander cousins to stop caring about freedom.
The Hong Kong protesters weren’t just fighting for their own freedom. They’re part of a global struggle against Chinese colonialism that extends from America to Asia and across Africa. That’s why Hong Kong protesters have waved American flags and posters of President Trump. And why they’ve tapped into human rights causes beyond the islands. The protesters are not under the illusion that the same world that abandoned Taiwan and the protesters in Tiananmen Square will risk anything for them alone.
The Hong Kong protesters are not alone in putting their bodies, their jobs, and their futures on the line. Courageous men and women are doing the same thing in Iran and Venezuela. Among other places. But the Hong Kong protesters are unique in speaking to the new threat of dot com totalitarianism.
Cold War opposition to Communism had insisted that prosperity and tyranny, a plethora of products and Communism, were incompatible. Americans had pointed to the plethora of products in our supermarkets and the scarcity in the Soviet Union as proof of economic manifest destiny. But these days most of our plethora of products are made in China. Lenin had been apocryphally quoted as saying that the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them. China is selling us our Amazon rope.
President Trump’s trade war with China did the unthinkable by rattling our economic chains. He did it over the hysterical protests of libertarians who shrieked that having slave labor goods dumped on Walmart as a military tactic by a Communist regime was the essence of a free market economy. There were tough times for some, but the supply chain tottered, and manufacturing began to trickle back.
Like the Hong Kong protesters, taking a stand for freedom was painful. There are no Chinese riot police in our malls yet. But when we tried to get the Chinese rope off our necks, it became hard to breathe.
If that’s how hard it is in 2019, imagine how impossible it will be to break free in 2029 or 2039.
Eventually we will become a Chinese colony. Our governments, like Hong Kong’s, will put down protests, sign extradition treaties, and do anything that Beijing says or face total economic catastrophe.
We have a choice between Freedom and ‘Made in China’.
After Tiananmen Square, Bush and Clinton refused to touch China’s most-favored-nation status. Under Obama, the People’s Republic of China hacked our economy, stealing everything in sight, copying products, industries, infrastructure, intellectual property, and personal data on an inconceivable scale, while burying its internet behind the Great Firewall and its economy behind protectionist restrictions.
Chinese spies openly operate on our soil in the thousands and tens of thousands. The secret police of the Communist regime openly threaten political dissidents, not just in Shanghai, but in California.
California Highway Patrol officers have arrested people driving Communist Party of China’s People’s Armed Police cars in Irvine, California. Those are the same thugs likely operating undercover on the ground in Hong Kong disguised as mainlander tourists who assault protesters in shopping malls.
Our economy is dominated by dot coms that have hollowed out our retail and manufacturing sectors, allowing China to dump even more stolen and slave labor products on our markets. Our entertainment industry attacks America while its film productions are closely controlled by Chinese Communist officials. This is our Amazon, Google, and Disney future. The one that Hong Kong protesters are fighting.
To paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, when Communism comes to America, it will be wrapped in One Day Prime and Disney+. We can have our 5G and Google Home as long as we shut up and do what we’re told.
For all the pretense that Greta Thunberg represents something more than an astroturf social media influencer manufactured by big green business, that’s also her message. It’s the message of the Left.
Obey. Do what you’re told. And we’ll let you enjoy your stuff.
The Hong Kong protesters have spent six months refusing to obey the world’s mightiest and wealthiest tyranny. They have stood up to a regime that has killed millions and could crush them in minutes.
And they’re doing it to show the world what is at stake.
Hong Kong is the canary in the Communist coal mine. The protesters gathering to sing “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” are telling us what’s at stake for us. They’re refusing to trade moral and political freedom for consumer goods. They’re raising their voices to shout that it’s not enough to have full supermarkets if you have empty souls, that Disney and Amazon aren’t a substitute for the freedom of a people.
This is a new generation of protests against a new form of consumeristic Communism.
America is in the thrall of an oligarchy of leftist corporations that trade ideological obedience for consumerism. If you have the right politics, you will have a place in their new economy. If you don’t, you will be deplatformed, demonetized, and cancelled. Your leaders will be the social media influencers, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, manufactured on these same platforms. Obey and enjoy the good life.
It takes courage to rise up against tyranny. But it takes even greater courage to resist the inertia of a new prosperity which hacks the human mind, and to take a stand for the principles of freedom.
That’s why the Hong Kong protesters are Front Page Magazine’s Person of the Year.
President Trump’s trade policies asked the nation to choose between America and Made in China. The Hong Kong protesters are asking us to choose our freedoms and theirs over Made in China.