In listening to All Things Considered this afternoon on my local NPR station, Wisconsin Public Radio, I heard the details on human rights in Hongkong. To take things back a bit to the 1990s, Great Britain opted to sign a treaty with China to give them the territory of Hongkong. Under British rule, Hongkong had a modicum of freedom and government by democratic principles.
With the story that I heard this afternoon, I was left wondering whether the British were naive when they signed the agreements with China over Hongkong. The Chinese get the idea of a market economy when it works in their favor. What they don’t get is that with a market economy must also come real and genuine freedom like the kind that Britain, the United States, and much of western Europe, guarantee for their citizens.
Americans in the United States have that freedom guaranteed in writing in the Constitution.
The democratic freedoms that Americans, British, French, Germans, and many other peoples enjoy were not easily obtained. Each nation had its own struggles and some of those struggles and revolutions were violent. Some countries saw dictators arise. Human rights were violated ie: slavery in the United States or genocide in Germany and a reign of terror in France.
We in the west are not perfect in this, but, at least we were willing to get on the journey. I remember former President Jimmy Carter put it that America was not a perfect society. But at least we are working on it. China doesn’t get this.
The Chinese insist on a one-party rule. They deny many of the basic freedoms that are guaranteed in many western countries. There is no Bill of Rights in China.
The Chinese may be on this journey too, but they are slow in starting. Their revolution in 1949 led to a new dynasty under Mao Tse Dung. Dung Cho Ping put the country on a different path towards a market economy which has made China a much more prosperous country but one that is still not free. They still have prison camps for dissenters. Freedom is not free.