I. THE LAW AND THE PROTESTS
1. ‘China is not an enemy’

<tr><td class="bg-holder"><img width="100%" src="https://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/2vDcAxa4LLR6QVySUIV2AVut6ng=/1484x0/arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/QREWWMU4GAI6TBOWKIIXGP4SY4.jpg" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption">The Washington Post</p><p class="excerpt"></p><p><strong>On July 3, 2019,</strong> the <em>Washington Post</em> published an op-ed, '<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/making-china-a-us-enemy-is-counterproductive/2019/07/02/647d49d0-9bfa-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html?utm_term=.997d1427c2b0" target="_blank">China is not an enemy</a>.'</p><ul><li><strong>The op-ed was</strong> in the form of an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress.</li><li><strong>The letter was written</strong> by five prominent China experts wrote and more than 100 influential business, foreign policy, and military leaders.</li><li><strong>The full text</strong> is below.</li></ul><hr></td></tr><tr><td class="quotation"><img src="https://www.freeiconspng.com/uploads/quotation-icon-20.png" style="display:block; width:70px;"alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><table class="intable"><tr><td class="intable-border"><h5>Dear President Trump and members of Congress:</h5><p>We are members of the scholarly, foreign policy, military and business communities, overwhelmingly from the United States, including many who have focused on Asia throughout our professional careers.</p><ul><li><strong>We are deeply concerned</strong> about the growing deterioration in U.S. relations with China, which we believe does not serve American or global interests. Although we are very troubled by Beijing&rsquo;s recent behavior, which requires a strong response, we also believe that many U.S. actions are contributing directly to the downward spiral in relations.</li></ul><p><strong>The following seven propositions</strong> represent our collective views on China, the problems in the U.S. approach to China and the basic elements of a more effective U.S. policy. Our institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.</p><ol><li><strong>China&rsquo;s troubling behavior in recent years</strong>&mdash; including its turn toward greater domestic repression, increased state control over private firms, failure to live up to several of its trade commitments, greater efforts to control foreign opinion and more aggressive foreign policy &mdash; raises serious challenges for the rest of the world. These challenges require a firm and effective U.S. response, but the current approach to China is fundamentally counterproductive.</li><li><strong>We do not believe Beijing is an economic enemy </strong>or an existential national security threat that must be confronted in every sphere; nor is China a monolith, or the views of its leaders set in stone.<ul><li><strong>Although</strong> its rapid economic and military growth has led Beijing toward a more assertive international role, many Chinese officials and other elites know that a moderate, pragmatic and genuinely cooperative approach with the West serves China&rsquo;s interests.</li><li><strong>Washington&rsquo;s adversarial stance</strong> toward Beijing weakens the influence of those voices in favor of assertive nationalists.</li><li><strong>With the right balance</strong> of competition and cooperation, U.S. actions can strengthen those Chinese leaders who want China to play a constructive role in world affairs.</li></ul></li><li><strong>U.S. efforts to treat China as an enemy</strong> and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States&rsquo; international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations.<ul><li><strong>U.S. opposition</strong> will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China&rsquo;s role in world affairs.</li><li><strong>Moreover,</strong> the United States cannot significantly slow China&rsquo;s rise without damaging itself.</li><li><strong>If the United States presses</strong> its allies to treat China as an economic and political enemy, it will weaken its relations with those allies and could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.</li></ul></li><li><strong>The fear that Beijing</strong> will replace the United States as the global leader is exaggerated.<ul><li><strong>Most other countries</strong> have no interest in such an outcome, and it is not clear that Beijing itself sees this goal as necessary or feasible.</li><li><strong>Moreover</strong>, a government intent on limiting the information and opportunities available to its own citizens and harshly repressing its ethnic minorities will not garner meaningful international support nor succeed in attracting global talent.</li><li><strong>The best American response</strong> to these practices is to work with our allies and partners to create a more open and prosperous world in which China is offered the opportunity to participate.</li><li><strong>Efforts to isolate China</strong> will simply weaken those Chinese intent on developing a more humane and tolerant society.</li></ul></li><li><strong>Although China has set a goal</strong> of becoming a world-class military by midcentury, it faces immense hurdles to operating as a globally dominant military power.<ul><li><strong>However</strong>, Beijing&rsquo;s growing military capabilities have already eroded the United States&rsquo; long-standing military preeminence in the Western Pacific.</li><li><strong>The best way to respond</strong> to this is not to engage in an open-ended arms race centered on offensive, deep-strike weapons and the virtually impossible goal of reasserting full-spectrum U.S. dominance up to China&rsquo;s borders.</li><li><strong>A wiser policy is</strong> to work with allies to maintain deterrence, emphasizing defensive-oriented, area denial capabilities, resiliency and the ability to frustrate attacks on U.S. or allied territory, while strengthening crisis-management efforts with Beijing.</li></ul></li><li><strong>Beijing is seeking to weaken</strong> the role of Western democratic norms within the global order.<ul><li><strong>But it is not seeking</strong> to overturn vital economic and other components of that order from which China itself has benefited for decades.</li><li><strong>Indeed,</strong> China&rsquo;s engagement in the international system is essential to the system&rsquo;s survival and to effective action on common problems such as climate change.</li><li><strong>The United States should</strong> encourage Chinese participation in new or modified global regimes in which rising powers have a greater voice.</li><li><strong>A zero-sum approach</strong> to China&rsquo;s role would only encourage Beijing to either disengage from the system or sponsor a divided global order that would be damaging to Western interests.</li></ul></li><li><strong>In conclusion,</strong> a successful U.S. approach to China must focus on creating enduring coalitions with other countries in support of economic and security objectives.<ul><li><strong>It must be based</strong> on a realistic appraisal of Chinese perceptions, interests, goals and behavior; an accurate match of U.S. and allied resources with policy goals and interests; and a rededication of U.S. efforts to strengthen its own capacity to serve as a model for others.</li><li><strong>Ultimately,</strong> the United States&rsquo; interests are best served by restoring its ability to compete effectively in a changing world and by working alongside other nations and international organizations rather than by promoting a counterproductive effort to undermine and contain China&rsquo;s engagement with the world.</li></ul></li></ol><p><strong>We believe</strong> that the large number of signers of this open letter clearly indicates that there is no single Washington consensus endorsing an overall adversarial stance toward China, as some believe exists.</p><ul><li><strong> Taylor Fravel</strong> is a professor of political science at MIT.</li><li><strong> Stapleton Roy</strong> is a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center and a former U.S. ambassador to China.</li><li><strong>Michael D. Swaine</strong> is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.</li><li><strong>Susan A. Thornton</strong> is a senior fellow at Yale Law School&rsquo;s Paul Tsai China Center and a former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.</li><li><strong>Ezra Vogel</strong> is a professor emeritus at Harvard University.</li></ul><p><strong>The above individuals</strong> circulated the letter, which was signed by the following: [all influential business, foreign policy, and military leaders.]</p></td></tr></table></td></tr>

2. Alipay & WeChat: China’s retail payment revolution

<tr><td class="bg-holder"><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d2003814c55f35fcc9ca9b5_Aaron%20Klein.jpg" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p><p><a href="https://www.brookings.edu/experts/aaron-klein/" target="_blank"><strong>Aaron Klein</strong></a>, Brookings Fellow and former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, has produced an excellent study of China&rsquo;s revolutionary payment system.</p><iframe src="https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ES_20190620_Klein_ChinaPayments.pdf&amp;embedded=true" style="width:100%; height:500px;border:none;"></iframe><p class="caption"><a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/ES_20190620_Klein_ChinaPayments.pdf" target="_blank">open in a new window</a></p><p>&lsquo;<strong>While America spent</strong> the past decade upgrading its bank based magnetic striped cards with chips, China experienced a retail payment revolution,&rsquo; write Aaron Klein of Brookings.</p><ul><li>'<strong>In the past decade</strong> China has experienced an internal payments revolution, leapfrogging magnetic cards, moving to a system based on smartphones and QR codes.'</li><li>'<strong>But the changes</strong> from this system go far beyond just a new technological form. The Chinese payment system has done something far more revolutionary: it has largely disintermediated the banking system.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>Leapfrogging</strong> the card-based system, two new payment systems have come to dominate person-to-person, retail, and many business transactions.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>China&rsquo;s new system</strong> is built on digital wallets, QR codes, and runs through their own big tech firms': <ul><li>'<strong>Alipay</strong> running through Alibaba (China&rsquo;s version of Amazon)'</li><li>'<strong>and WeChat Pay</strong> running through Tencent (China&rsquo;s version of Facebook).'</li></ul></li><li>'<strong>The number of users</strong> and growth on both platforms has been substantial and reached near ubiquity in under a decade.'</li><li>'<strong>Starting from zero</strong> at the beginning of the decade, these two payment platforms are now the largest system in China and among the largest in the world.'</li></ul><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d200195fce0e3a6f68b1b59_brookings.2019_06_ES_20190620_Klein.png" alt="CHINADebate"><p>'<strong>Mobile payments</strong> in China have reached over $41 trillion (277 trillion yuan) annually.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>More than 92 percent</strong> of the mobile payments are made over the two dominant platforms: Alipay (53%) and WeChat Pay (39%).'</li><li>'<strong>This rise</strong> is even more stunning when considering its rapidity.'</li></ul><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d2001954c55f3e6b09ca3ce_brookings2019_06_ES_20190620_Klein.png" alt="CHINADebate"><p>'<strong>China&rsquo;s system </strong>largely disintermediates banks from payment transactions robbing banks of an important and long-standing source of revenue.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>It creates</strong> an alternative payment ecosystem with different incentives between merchants, consumers, and payment system providers.'</li><li>'<strong>It challenges</strong> the long-standing placement of payments on the side of banking as opposed to commerce.'</li><li>'<strong>In doing so</strong>, this system creates new incentives that could realign existing business models and relationships between merchants, banks, and technology providers.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>China&rsquo;s new payment system</strong> exploded in under a decade, growing from inception to dominance.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>With over a billion users</strong> on each platform, the power of network incentives has been unleashed.'</li><li>'<strong>The new payment system</strong> has replaced cards and cash at registers, how families give gifts, and even how beggars ask for money, with QR codes replacing tin cups.'</li></ul></td></tr>

3. Can Facebook’s Libra replicate WeChat Pay’s digital payment dominance?

<tr><td class="bg-holder"><img width="100%" src="https://i0.wp.com/technode.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/calibraapp_earlylook_en402x.png?w=1680&ssl=1" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p><p>&lsquo;<strong>Facebook</strong>, the world&rsquo;s most popular social network platform,&nbsp;<a href="https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/06/coming-in-2020-calibra/" target="_blank">announced</a>&nbsp;a new project&mdash;to launch a cryptocurrency named Libra on WhatsApp, Messenger and a dedicated standalone app in 2020,&rsquo; write <strong>Nicole Jau</strong> in <a href="https://technode.com/2019/06/28/facebook-libra-replicate-wechat-pay/" target="_blank">&lsquo;<strong>Can Facebook&rsquo;s Libra replicate WeChat Pay&rsquo;s digital payment dominance?&rsquo;</strong></a></p><ul><li>'<strong>The announcement</strong> grabbed headline attention around the world, including in China, where mobile-based digital payments have become ubiquitous thanks to the rise of Tencent&rsquo;s WeChat Pay and Alibaba&rsquo;s payment arm Alipay.'</li><li>'<strong>However</strong>, regulations remain tight on cryptocurrency activities in the country and Facebook products are practically outlawed.'</li><li>'<strong>Facebook&rsquo;s brave move</strong> into digital payments can be construed as an effort to emulate WeChat&rsquo;s successes in the sector.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>There are both similarities and differences</strong> between Calibra, Facebook&rsquo;s planned e-wallet for Libra, and WeChat Pay.'</p><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d2004522e58b72759c4b820_Can%20Facebook%E2%80%99s%20Libra%20replicate%20WeChat_%20-%20https___technode.com_2019_06_28_f.png" alt="CHINADebate"><p>'<strong>The two share</strong> the same vision of using digital payments as a means to broaden financial access.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>For a long time</strong>, WeChat Pay and Alipay were flag-bearers in terms of providing financial services to the masses via digital platforms.'</li><li>'<strong>Facebook</strong> will likely leverage social media and digital currency to drive traffic to apps within its ecosystem, just like WeChat did.'</li><li>'<strong>However</strong>, Libra will be able to call on Facebook&rsquo;s massive userbase of 2.7 billion people, larger than that of China&rsquo;s mobile payment duopoly combined.'</li><li>'<strong>WeChat&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://technode.com/2018/11/19/wechat-1-minute-statistics-report/" target="_blank">reported</a> more than 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide as of the third quarter end last year while Alipay&nbsp;<a href="https://technode.com/2018/11/19/wechat-1-minute-statistics-report/" target="_blank">posted</a> over 700 million MAUs.'</li></ul><h5>'Calibra, the WeChat Pay of everywhere but China'</h5><p>'&ldquo;<strong>WeChat has China</strong>, Facebook wants the rest of the world,&rdquo; Bob O&rsquo;Donnell, president and chief analyst of California-based market research and consulting firm Technalysis Research, told TechNode.'</p><p>'<strong>WeChat Pay and Alipay</strong> have focused on expanding services overseas by catering to Chinese tourists.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Calibra can steal</strong> a march on Chinese digital wallets because, unlike WeChat Pay and Alipay which are tied to the yuan, it is pegged to a basket of currencies.'</li></ul><h5>'China misses out'</h5><p>'<strong>China has maintained</strong> a firm stance against most cryptocurrency activities.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>In 2017</strong>, authorities issued a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and existing cryptocurrency exchanges, which has remained in place ever since.&nbsp;'</li></ul><p>'&ldquo;<strong>If China cannot participate</strong> in this new phase of the digital economic revolution, then it may find itself in a passive position within currency competition, not to mention it could lose its advantages within the internet and financial technology sectors,&rdquo; stated an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1155562.shtml" target="_blank">article</a>&nbsp;published on state-run Global Times, the country&rsquo;s main foreign-policy publication.'</p><ul><li>'&ldquo;<strong>Unfortunately</strong>, we are increasingly seeing this gap between China and the rest of the world when it comes to anything digital,&rdquo; said O&rsquo;Donnell from TechAnalysis Research. &ldquo;This is just another example of China isolating itself, trying to create a more controlled digital environment, he added.'</li></ul></td></tr>

II. POTENTIAL BACKLASH FROM THE U.S.
4. 'Hong Kong Has Nothing Left to Lose'

<tr><td class="bg-holder"><img width="100%" src="https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/07/03/opinion/03eswar-prasad/merlin_157332486_e1eeb32f-43f8-456d-867a-e224e6695416-jumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p class="caption">NYT</p><p class="excerpt"></p><h5>1. 'Why China No Longer Needs Hong Kong'</h5><p class="excerpt">'The mainland Chinese economy now dwarfs the city&rsquo;s, and rivals are usurping its status as a hub of global finance.'</p><p>&lsquo;<strong>For many years</strong> after regaining control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, China mostly&nbsp;respected&nbsp;the territory&rsquo;s institution.&rsquo; Writes <strong>Eswar Prasad</strong>, professor at Cornell University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, '<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/opinion/hong-kong-protest.html" target="_blank"><strong>Why China No Longer Needs Hong Kong</strong></a>.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>That is no longer the case</strong>, as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/world/asia/hong-kong-protestors.html?module=inline" target="_blank">Beijing&rsquo;s heavy hand during the recent protests</a> in the city has made obvious.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>So what changed?</strong>'</p><p>'<strong>In 1997</strong>, China needed Hong Kong. China had not yet&nbsp;been allowed to join&nbsp;the World Trade Organization.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Chinese exporters</strong> had limited access to the global market.&nbsp;Hong Kong&nbsp;was the solution: It served as a channel for entrep&ocirc;t trade &mdash; goods from China could enter the territory&rsquo;s ports and then be sent as exports from Hong Kong to the rest of the world, thus evading&nbsp;the trade restrictions&nbsp;imposed by member nations on nations outside the organization.'</li></ul><p>'<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/11/world/world-trade-organization-admits-china-amid-doubts.html?module=inline" target="_blank"><strong> When China became </strong>part of the trade organization in 2001</a>, entrep&ocirc;t trade through Hong Kong lost its importance.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>By some estimates</strong>, nearly half of China&rsquo;s trade went through Hong Kong in 1997, today that figure is less than 12 percent.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>In terms of total size</strong> and wealth, Hong Kong has also shrunk relative to China, which has experienced more than three decades of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/18/world/asia/china-rules.html?module=inline" target="_blank"> astoundingly high economic growth</a>.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>In 1997</strong>, Hong Kong&rsquo;s economy was one-fifth the size of China&rsquo;s, and its per capita income was 35 times higher.'</li><li>'<strong>By 2018</strong>, Hong Kong&rsquo;s economy was barely one-thirtieth the size of China&rsquo;s. Hong Kong is still richer, but the gap is narrowing, with its per capita income now five times higher than China&rsquo;s.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>In the period right after 1997</strong>, China wanted to strengthen Hong Kong&rsquo;s reputation as an open and market-oriented economy governed by the rule of law.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>This was a large part of</strong> its appeal as a major international financial center, a status that benefited the mainland economy.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>Hong Kong was</strong> also used as a controlled testing ground where China&rsquo;s currency, the renminbi, could find its feet as an international currency.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Hong Kong had</strong> the trust of international investors, and the renminbi could trade more freely there than in China, where capital controls restricted the movement of financial capital across China&rsquo;s borders.'</li><li>'<strong>China&rsquo;s dependence on Hong Kong</strong> is a thing of the past. The size of China&rsquo;s financial markets now dwarfs that of Hong Kong&rsquo;s.'</li><li>'<strong>China&rsquo;s four largest banks</strong> have become the four largest in the world in terms of their assets. In 1997, China&rsquo;s stock markets were barely half the size of Hong Kong&rsquo;s stock markets.'</li><li>'<strong>Today</strong>, the capitalization of China&rsquo;s stock markets stands at nearly $8 trillion, among the largest stock markets in the world, and about double that of Hong Kong&rsquo;s.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>It is not that Hong Kong&rsquo;s</strong> markets have shrunk &mdash; the value of new public listings in Hong Kong was higher than any other exchange worldwide last year.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Rather</strong>, it is simply that China&rsquo;s financial markets, like its economy, have expanded so fast they have left Hong Kong in the dust.'</li></ul><h5>2. Hong Kong: &lsquo;People here know that time is not on their side.&rsquo;</h5><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d200e6f4c55f33be89cba41_3.%20%27Hong%20Kong%20Has%20Nothing%20Left%20to%20Lose%27%20.jpg" alt="CHINADebate"><p>&lsquo;<strong>During British colonial times</strong>, many Hong Kong people identified with mainland China, the motherland, and were deeply&nbsp;interested in&nbsp;developments there,&rsquo; writes <strong>Lewis Lau Yiu-man, </strong>a political commentator based in Hong Kong, in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/opinion/hong-kong-protests-extradition-china.html?action=click&amp;module=RelatedLinks&amp;pgtype=Article" target="_blank"><strong>&lsquo;Hong Kong&rsquo;s Protesters Are Resisting China With Anarchy and Principle.&rsquo;</strong></a></p><ul><li>'<strong>But colonialism</strong> also acted as a shield. The British authorities quashed&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/opinion/ching-cheong-hong-kong-revolution.html?module=inline" target="_blank">Communist-led riots in 1967</a>.'</li><li>'<strong>And Hong Kongers</strong> could support the student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 without risking any reprisals.'</li><li>'<strong>They were patriotic</strong> from&nbsp;a safe distance.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>But after the British</strong> handed formal control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and as political and economic pressure from China intensified, more and more people in the city have identified as Hong Kongers rather&nbsp;than as Chinese, Chinese living in Hong Kong or Hong Kong-Chinese.&nbsp;'</p><ul><li>'<strong>They have also</strong> increasingly borne the brunt of the Chinese government&rsquo;s growing authoritarianism.'</li><li>'<strong>Hong Kongers</strong> are finally beginning to emancipate themselves from&nbsp;their old views.'</li><li>'<strong>But</strong> the process is still at an early stage.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>People here</strong> know that time is not on their side.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>This is</strong> a moment of desperate hope.'</li><li>'<strong>One-quarter</strong> of Hong Kong&rsquo;s population has marched against Mr. Xi&rsquo;s attempt to extend the Chinese Communist Party&rsquo;s absolute rule to the city.'</li><li>'<strong>After that</strong>, how could things go back to normal?'</li><li>'<strong>China is likely</strong> to seek revenge for our recent audacity.'</li><li>'<strong>But punishing&nbsp;</strong>Hong Kongers&nbsp;would only unite us&nbsp;further.'</li></ul><h5>3. 'Hong Kong Has Nothing Left to Lose'</h5><img width="100%" src="https://assets.website-files.com/5c864c33af62620dca1373ac/5d200e702e58b745fbc4c76f_2.%20%27Hong%20Kong%3A%20%E2%80%98People%20here%20know%20that%20time%20is%20not%20on%20their%20side.%E2%80%99%27%20.jpg" alt="CHINADebate"><p class="excerpt">'Inside the protests, I heard a collective roar of rage against a government that has failed, by design, to represent its people.'</p><p>&lsquo;<strong>After breaking into</strong> Hong Kong&rsquo;s legislature, protesters left a message for Carrie Lam, the city&rsquo;s top government official, spray-painted on a pillar:&nbsp;&ldquo;<u>It was you who taught me that peaceful protests are futile,</u>&rdquo; writes <strong>Lousia Lim</strong>, formerly a journalist with NPR and the BBC, now Senior Lecturer in Audio Visual Journalism at the University of Melbourne, in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/02/opinion/hong-kong-protest.html?action=click&amp;module=RelatedLinks&amp;pgtype=Article" target="_blank">&lsquo;<strong>Hong Kong Has Nothing Left to Lose.&rsquo;</strong></a></p><p>'<strong>To the young activists</strong>, the storming of the Legislative Council was an act of desperation.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Three times in the past month</strong>, tremendous numbers of Hong Kongers &mdash; at one point estimated to be&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/world/asia/china-hong-kong-protest.html?module=inline" target="_blank">more than two million</a>&mdash; marched peacefully to protest against a controversial extradition bill with China, which they fear would undermine Hong Kong&rsquo;s judiciary and its freedom.'</li><li>'<strong>The government suspended</strong> but did not withdraw the law.'</li><li>'<strong>It did not even meet</strong> representatives of those who marched.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>I was among the journalists</strong> covering the break-in of the building, and I watched as protesters ripped metal bars from the side of the building to smash their way through the windows.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Their actions seemed like</strong> a breathtaking act of defilement of one of Hong Kong&rsquo;s institutions.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>Yet on closer inspection</strong>, I saw that they had zeroed in on certain totems of power.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Inside the legislative chamber</strong>, someone had blacked out Hong Kong&rsquo;s emblem &mdash; a white bauhinia flower on a red background.'</li><li>'<strong>They had torn up the Basic Law</strong>, effectively Hong Kong&rsquo;s constitution, on the rostrum.'</li><li>'<strong>Above it</strong>, someone had spray-painted over the words &ldquo;The People&rsquo;s Republic of China&rdquo; in black.'</li><li>'<strong>There were other graffiti messages</strong> on the walls, including, &ldquo;There are no rioters, only tyranny,&rdquo; a reference to the government&rsquo;s announcement that an earlier demonstration, broken up by police firing rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets, constituted &ldquo;a riot.&rdquo;'</li></ul><p>'<strong>But certain parts</strong> of the building, like the library, were left untouched.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Notes reminded</strong> protesters not to damage fragile items such as vases on display.'</li><li>'<strong>Protesters </strong>even left money in the fridge to pay for the soda they drank.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>Ms. Lam, Hong Kong&rsquo;s chief executive</strong>, has vowed to pursue the offenders and condemned their&nbsp;&ldquo;<u>extreme use of violence.</u>&rdquo;'</p><ul><li>'<strong>Beijing</strong> criticized their &ldquo;<u>atrocities.</u>&rdquo;'</li></ul><p>'<strong>But this break-in</strong> had a clear purpose: It is a collective roar of rage against a government that has failed, by design, to represent the people.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>The Legislative Assembly&rsquo;s</strong> composition apportions half its seats to business-friendly &ldquo;functional constituencies,&rdquo; ensuring that pro-government, pro-Beijing forces are in the majority, regardless of the results of legislative elections.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>When those polls</strong> don&rsquo;t produce the representatives Beijing wants, it has used the tools at its disposal to create a more pliant legislature.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>This happened</strong> after the 2016 elections, when a new crop of radical pro-democracy politicians was elected.'</li><li>'<strong>Beijing then</strong> intervened to reinterpret Hong Kong&rsquo;s Basic Law,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/07/world/asia/hong-kong-china-extradition-protest.html?module=inline" target="_blank"> retroactively disqualifying six popularly elected politicians</a> over the way in which they took their oaths.'</li></ul><p>'<strong>When it comes to Hong Kong politics</strong>, it isn&rsquo;t just that the playing field is tilted.'</p><ul><li>'<strong>The rules</strong> of the game, even the point of the game, are constantly being redrawn.'</li><li>'<strong>By vandalizing</strong> the legislature, protesters have aimed their anger not just at one law but at an entire system that has disenfranchised them.'</li></ul></td></tr>

III. CONGRESS & THE PRESIDENT REACT
IV. EXTRADITION LAW:PRO & CON