zugzwang[ tsook-tsvahng ]noun Chess.
a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect.
by Martin Harris 3/8/19
An extraordinary situation is taking place in Hong Kong. Handed back to China in 1997 after many years of British Colonial rule, Hong Kong has continued to enjoy relative freedom compared to it’s mainland counterparts. The lucrative Hong Kong movie industry that spawned so many Martial Arts epics now churns out films (backed by mainland China) with a distinctive anti-Western/Colonial flavor, but otherwise little has changed until recently.
The protests began after a planned extradition bill. The bill is now suspended. Rather than dissipating, the protests, astoundingly, have gained size and momentum, with no signs of letting up. Wise to the bill being merely a foot-in-the door for gradual erosion of treasured freedoms, the citizens of Hong Kong are calling for the resignation of Communist party puppet Carrie Lam and for a return to greater levels of democracy.
Now, thousands of Civil Servants have joined the protest. It appears that China is losing control.
A short but powerfully presented video has been released by the Chinese government warning of the impending consequences: A show of strength.
Here’s the problem. too many remember Tiananmen Square and the heavy-handed military action that resulted in a massacre of protestors. Only a few days back, the author listened to a military strategy expert on TV suggesting that China would be too wise to repeat the Tiananmen scenario. Maybe, maybe not.
So China is “in Zugswang”. They cannot pass up their move in the game. They can bow to the protestor’s pressure (a win for Western Democracy) or they can resort to the heavy-handed military action suggested by their video. In which case they risk international condemnation, and potentially damage their high standing in the UN (undeserved anyway in this author’s opinion).
Of course, China tells the world “butt out: This is our internal problem”. Trouble is, thanks to it’s global ambitions, China has already well and truly poked it’s nose into every other nation’s business. Works both ways. Putting investment and infrastructure around the world is a smart move for sure, but it only goes so far. How long before the Belt and Road signatories get wise and cut their losses if Hong Kong becomes a blood bath? There’s already the Organ-harvesting scandal lurking in the shadows.
Perhaps China has something up it’s sleeve? technology? Non lethal weapons, mind control and hi-tech crowd dispersal methods? If so, why haven’t they used these already and avoided the whole mess right from the start?
The combination of the Hong Kong situation and Trump’s trade tariffs (and China’s response) put China between a rock and a hard place.
Political chess. an interesting game to watch.