Xianggang

The Mandarin name for Hong Kong doesn’t do justice to the poetic rendering in Cantonese: it means Fragrant Harbor.

Xianggang currently emanates the fragrance of freedom, and if you stop to think, it seems logical that the umbrella movement might begin there.

The older Chinese, many of them escapees from the mainland during the bad old days, and by that I mean purges, the Cultural Revolution, and other treats, were delighted when Deng Xiaoping, the ‘little peace’, spoke of one country, two systems.

Deng did many other things, such as the one child policy, a move designed to enforce a more balanced match of food supply and mouths to feed. The social costs of this policy include a shift in the sex-ratio.

World sex ratio. As you might expect from kiddie colorcoding, blue areas have more males and pink have more females. Green is balanced.

World sex ratio. As you might expect from kiddie color-coding, blue areas have more males and pink have more females. Green is balanced.

Since this ratio is naturally about 1:1, and considering the Chinese don’t have a magical method to influence prenatal sexual selection, the sad conclusion is that the shift is due to gender-selective abortion—and far worse, the murder of newborn girls.

The blue male band is curious, since it covers not just China, but India and Pakistan, and westward along the caliphate trail to the Maghreb-al-Ausat, the northwestern part of Africa—there is in fact a very clear correlation between the Muslim belt and the blue zone.

But life isn’t all rosy-pink and baby-blue, the actual data matter. I crunched a few of those numbers, and there’s only a handful of nations with a sex-ratio of 1.12 or more at birth: Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, India, Liechtenstein, and Vietnam. I think we can safely ignore Mr. L—China has maternity wards bigger than Liechtenstein.

Even less countries show an increase in the male to female ratio by age fifteen: Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, and India. In the first two nations, the increase is 2.3% and 2.6% respectively. In India, under 1%. In China, 4.5%.

Percentages are good for comparisons, but what does this mean in numbers? About seven and a half million girls are born in China each year, compared to eight and a half million boys. By age fifteen that gap will widen significantly.

In the fragrant harbor, there is a perfume of democracy, with streets full of those girls and boys. These are the children of the migrants, men and women who fled Guangdong province, and so many other parts of China, hoping for a better life.

And it’s those older people who now oppose the students, fearful that the northern capital will suddenly act. They know that when the dragon blows, an evil wind will follow.

And as usual the youngsters don’t see things that way.

Beijing is in a pickle, though, because Hong Kong is a jewel of corporate finance, and a powerhouse of business throughout the world.

The pundits on the US business channels tell us this is a passing phase—they live obfuscated by the power of money, but this is about the power of power, as Xi Jinping knows so well.

This is not Occupy Wall Street, this is occupy main street. This time it’s not about governance, it’s about government.

Maybe the umbrellas won’t prevail. It would set a terrible precedent for the Chinese government, and a harbinger of chaos on the mainland. It should be obvious to all that China will one day change, but the government somehow feels it can control how the genie escapes the bottle.

That’s the really hard part—the only way to release a caged bird is to open the door, and then who knows where it might fly.

Perhaps the authorities can wait it out. And perhaps that will work. Many protest movements lose momentum that way, and the status quo lives to fight another day. If that doesn’t work, just as the Mongkok ‘civil indignation’ hasn’t worked (in fact it backfired sharply), then the danger to the mainland is that given time, the events in Hong Kong cannot escape Chinese social media.

Many activists will be pushing to replicate the Umbrella Revolution in large Chinese cities, to provoke an avalanche. And Chinese students are capable of changing the world. After all, they led the Cultural Revolution, and faced down the tanks in Tiananmen.

China’s leaders know there is a major difference in the capacity for communication and organization of masses in the Year of The Horse. It’s called the internet.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

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