Demonstrations in Hong Kong highlight the ongoing struggle between its citizens and Chinese leaders over the course of democratization there. The United States has substantial economic stakes in Hong Kong, which would be threatened by political crisis. U.S. investment and trade interests depend on preservation of the rule of law in Hong Kong, while Hong Kong also is a bellwether for the political evolution of Greater China, including Taiwan.
Recognizing the growing public demand for democratization, the communist leadership of Beijing is prepared to enter a dialogue with Hong Kong democrats. However, the democrats’ leverage depends on their performance in the September 12 legislative elections. Some in the U.S. Congress want to show solidarity with Hong Kong democrats and toughness toward Beijing by removing beneficial economic treatment that Hong Kong receives. This would be a mistake; better options exist for Americans to help democratization in Hong Kong.