Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World

What China's Crackdown Reveals About Its Plans to End Freedom Everywhere

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2022

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A gripping history of China's deteriorating relationship with Hong Kong, and its implications for the rest of the world.

For 150 years as a British colony, Hong Kong was a beacon of prosperity where people, money, and technology flowed freely, and residents enjoyed many civil liberties. In preparation for handing the territory over to China in 1997, Deng Xiaoping promised that it would remain highly autonomous for fifty years. An international treaty established a Special Administrative Region (SAR) with a far freer political system than that of Communist China—one with its own currency and government administration, a common-law legal system, and freedoms of press, speech, and religion.

But as the halfway mark of the SAR’s lifespan approaches in 2022, it is clear that China has not kept its word. Universal suffrage and free elections have not been instituted, harassment and brutality have become normalized, and activists are being jailed en masse. To make matters worse, a national security law that further crimps Hong Kong’s freedoms has recently been decreed in Beijing. This tragic backslide has dire worldwide implications—as China continues to expand its global influence, Hong Kong serves as a chilling preview of how dissenters could be treated in regions that fall under the emerging superpower’s control.

Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World
tells the complete story of how a city once famed for protests so peaceful that toddlers joined grandparents in millions-strong rallies became a place where police have fired more than 10,000 rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and even live ammunition at their neighbors, while pro-government hooligans attack demonstrators in the streets. A Hong Kong resident from 1992 to 2021, author Mark L. Clifford has witnessed this transformation firsthand. As a celebrated publisher and journalist, he has unrivaled access to the full range of the city’s society, from student protestors and political prisoners to aristocrats and senior government officials. A powerful and dramatic mix of history and on-the-ground reporting, this book is the definitive account of one of the most important geopolitical standoffs of our time.

A gripping history of China's deteriorating relationship with Hong Kong, and its implications for the rest of the world.

For 150 years as a British colony, Hong Kong was a beacon of prosperity where...


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Featured Reviews

This book is on the very edge of excellence but, sadly, it falls short. The author not only gives us the name of the street someone lives on but feels impelled to give us that street name several times. Also, the author's footnotes are overwhelmingly from newspaper articles that I have found over the years to be most unreliable. Citing solid sources is, in my opinion, always the better opinion.

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Based on the information in this book, you can see how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) plans on integrating Hong Kong into their future plans. Slowly, all of the promises that the CCP made to HK in 1997, to protect their "special" situation. But as they have done in Tibet, and are now doing in Xinjiang. Xi Jinping has an agenda that has non-Han areas absorbed by Red China. The population of China is aging, and in ten years the population will have aged to the point their military will begin to shrink.

Because of the aging he knows that he has to gain control of Taiwan very soon. He understands that if he doesn't control HK, Taiwan, Tibet, the islands of the South China Sea, they will become difficult to have any chance of being able to fold them into Red China. Xi fears that what happened in Russia (USSR) in 1989 will happen to China. More than anything he fears that minorities will become the majority of the population and they will become an enemy within.

If you question this scenario, look how they forced all pro-west candidates off the ballot in HK, and this resulted in only 30% of the voting public to vote for their slate. Xi doesn't care what anyone in the West says, they will continue until anything that makes HK unique disappears.

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A vitally important read about how China has tightened the noose around Hong Kong's neck and has cracked down on basic freedoms Hong Kongers have enjoyed over the last 100 years or so. This book goes into detail how China and the CCP have crushed Hong Kong dissenters and how the template of these restrictions are and will continue to have worldwide impacts. The author tells how the restrictive transformation of Hong Kong, which was once a substantially freer city, is a potential canary in the coalmine of how China could interact with the rest of the world. This is a very important read for anyone who cares about free, open societies or losing fundamental basic human rights to totalitarian governments.

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As the author states in this acknowledgments “For all the euphoria of Hong Kong in 2019, no one familiar with the history of the Chinese Communist Party and its secretive, paranoid worldview would have been altogether surprised at the crushing of freedom that followed.” Yes, no one who was around and paying attention to the agreement that Britain was making with Red China would now be surprised that the Chinese Government would never adhere to that agreement, so it was only a matter of time before the changes would be put into motion. At some point Hong Kong will be no different than Mainland China. With that said “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World” by Mark L. Clifford gives a very good overview of how Hong Kong got to the point where the agreement was finalized and what has happened since that time. And here is a spoiler, it is not good for the people of Hong Kong.

In a minor way some of what is now happening in Hong Kong has also been happening in other countries . As an example, here are some quotes from the book: “using pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons.” “The business elite unsurprisingly held a conservative attitude, one that favored stability, property rights, and commercial success over notions of social welfare, workers’ rights, or civil liberties.“ Do these sound familiar?

However, the difference is that in Hong Kong the few rights the people had were taken away quickly and in a very strong and systematic process all while bypassing basic legal requirements. People ended up in jail, charges were trumped up and due process was completely pushed aside. If you crossed a line you would be arrested, your assets would be taken away and your family would be threatened. The author provides numerous examples.

The book paints an excellent picture of the individual rights and limits during the 150 years under British rule followed by the hand over and finally what China has done to Hong Kong since that point. It does make you wonder if Britain could have move democracy along a little further over those 150 years. The author clearly is passionate about the issues and wants people to see what is going on hoping that nations will be pushed into doing something. ‘Beijing’s destruction of a free city in full sight of the world offers no clearer example of the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to end freedom everywhere.’ If I lived in Taiwan I would be looking for a way to get out before the Chinese come marching in

I would recommend this book if you are interested in the geopolitical issues in Asia, if you are concerned about human rights or you want to have a better understanding of how the leadership in a country can systematically destroy the rights, freedoms and lives of it’s own people.

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Recently, St. Martin's Press reached out to me and invited me to examine an ARC of Mark L. Clifford's "Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World: What China's Crackdown Reveals About Its Plans To End Freedom Everywhere." My initial thought, based on a quick response to the title, was that it was likely to be of only marginal interest as I feared that it would lack balance and clarity. I am pleased to report that the wise reader will look closely at the subtitle to get a much better feel for what turned out to be a superb and very well informed treatment of events surrounding Hong Kong's return to the control of mainland China after more than a century of British control. This should not really surprise anyone familiar with Mark Clifford's work as a very distinguished and well thought of journalist with significant first hand exposure to what he writes of. By examining the underpinnings of Chinese fears about Hong Kong's loyalty and the economic means by which the Chinese have tried to manipulate events (with very uneven results). Clifford's analysis of the complexities of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and its relationship with the greater ambitions of the CCP is very useful to those of us who understand events in Hong Kong only in the decontextualized context of newsbites in the world of television news. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone seeking to contextualize, through a case study, their understanding of Chinese policy and its limitations and motivations.

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A deep dive into the history of Hong Kong by an excellent writer. A history lesson that will benefit everyone.

Thank you NetGalley for the advance read.

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This is a comprehensive look at Hong Kong - its past, present, and predictions for the future by author, Mark Clifford, who lived in Hong Kong for almost 30 years. The book dives straight into the heart of the city. It covers Hong Kong’s history, people and social, cultural, and economic conditions, and most importantly, politics and China’s authoritarian hand as it rapidly changes the goal posts and cracks down on the freedom of Hong Kongers. Having lived in Hong Kong for decades with intimate knowledge, familiarity, and connections the author vividly portrays the ongoing struggles of protesters fighting to make China adhere to the One Country Two Systems doctrine it signed in 1984 to take effect in 1997 and run for fifty years, when Hong Kong reverted to China. However, Hong Kong’s status as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, with supposed freedom of speech, press, and religion and the right to the rule of law is very much at stake given the events and tactics of the Chinese government over the past few years as it attempts to crush all and any protests. Beyond what’s happening in Hong Kong, the author also highlights China’s responses to other countries for incidents it views aimed at disgracing or discrediting the Chinese government. All this collectively points to China’s attempts to stem and influence freedom around the world. I found the book interesting, well written, chilling, and with useful insights from the many people on the ground. I’m surprised that the author was able to cover so much in this book - no mean feat. Hong Kong’s fate hangs in the balance. Where will it be in a few years from now? I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about what’s at stake for Hong Kong. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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diplomacy, international-tensions, international-competition, colonialism, Hong Kong, cultural-assimilation, cultural-exploration, cultural-heritage, culture-of-fear, politics, friction, China, Chinese-languages, current-affairs, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, history-and-culture, nonfiction*****

If Hong Kong is the canary in the coal mine, next is Taiwan, and then?
An in-depth history of the 20th and 21st century impact on Hong Kong by the Chinese mainland as well as a hard look into living costs/conditions in Hong Kong by one who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for nearly thirty years. I learned a lot and recognized those warning bells. Well worth reading!
I requested and received a free temporary e-book from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!

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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Current events in world are influential in our daily life. The question may well be, what does the past dealings between China and other nations have to teach us about what is happening and may happen in the near future? In this timely and relevant book, the author writes of Hong Kong and life under communism today, the comparison of freedom and tyranny. It addresses the life lived under harsh ruling party vs freedoms of democracy, commerce, religion and openness of trade relations. This is an excellent book that gives so much insight into the history and current situation of China, Hong Kong and nations which interact with them.
I recommend this book to libraries, schools, persons wanting to know more about the freedoms of democracy and the threat of communism.

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Author Mark L. Clifford has put together an interesting offering, one that furnishes the reader with a story that encompasses history, current events, and what could come to pass. His views of Hong Kong are strengthened by the many years he lived there, learning not only about the opportunities for people and businesses, but also the culture of both Hong Kongers and those who reside and rule Mainland China.

My knowledge of Hong Kong was enhanced as Mr. Clifford told the story of Hong Kong and how it had evolved into an economic powerhouse. Unfortunately, as it was achieving this goal, the time approached for England to leave Hong Kong and allow China to take control of the city. The One Party Two Systems agreement, signed in 1984 and aimed to help allay fears of Hong Kong residents, was started down the road of slow dismantlement. The author provides many personal stories of residents and how China’s actions were more authoritarian than a government that was going to work closely with Hong Kong.

The Epilogue points out the actions of the Chinese government, tying in its efforts to not only rein in Hong Kong, but also other countries throughout the world. Examples range from bullying to outright coercion, and their techniques are at times hidden and at other times brazenly laid out for everyone to see. The warning signs are there, and Mr. Clifford offers reasons why there might be a shorter time for China’s leaders to accomplish their agenda. Will this push them to act rashly? Only time will tell.

“Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World” is an easy-to-understand book for those with little knowledge of this area of the world, and will help those more learned by providing personal insights. Definitely recommended for history buffs and those interested in current events. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary advance copy of this title.

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A fascinating look at Hong Kong Inlearned so many interesting facts about its history.Well written very engaging would make for interesting discussions in book clubs.#netgalley #st.Martns

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A Chilling Look at China’s Takeover of Hong Kong

Once a British colony, Hong Kong came under China’s control through an agreement signed in 1984. In the agreement Hong Kong was to have the status of a Special Administrative Region under China. Freedom of speech, the press, religion, and the rule if law were supposed to be guaranteed. However, China began to slowly dismantle these freedoms. The author points out numerous cases where this has happened and is still happening.

The chilling part of the narrative is that China is looking ahead to take over other regions such as Taiwan and the islands in the South China Sea. The book is an eye-opener. China has an aging population and as such needs to advance quickly while there are still young people capable of sustaining it’s military. The world can expect to see an increased suppression of freedom as China plots to take over other areas.

This is a very well done book. The author lived in Hong Kong for many years. He has first hand knowledge of what’s happening and how it’s affecting the people. I didn’t know much about Hong Kong and it’s relationship to China before reading this book. Now I feel much more aware of the problems not only Hong Kong, but the rest of the world is facing from China.

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.

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Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this work.

This is must-reading in today's world. The author did his homework! To understand today's world means you have to understand China. This history will help enormously. The author lived in Hong Kong and offers us an insightful look at the past/current and future of this part of the world.

Highly recommend.

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From what the world has experienced from the actions of China on various occasions, it is clear that the country has only goals of power for itself and ideas of claiming back the people of Taiwan and Hong Kong under it’s communist rule. Mark Clifford has done a superb job here from providing a brief history of Hong Kong’s past to information on the current suppression of human rights there. Not only is Hong Kong being deprived of democracy but will the rest of the world who believe in it and it’s freedoms be deprived too? An important book for those who keep up with current events.

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I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

This was an intriguing book. Though much is factual and verifiable, there’s a clearly defined perspective- journalist, outsider, local. Though the opinion is obviously his own, it’s based on enough fact to clearly support his view. The background fleshed out the conflict between western ideals of freedoms and mainland Chinese beliefs of Nationalism, laying the groundwork to follow the experience; the beginning of the culture clash coming to a head. That the promise of sovereignty promised upon the return to China after the end of British colonial rule would not be kept, and the government grasped at ways to move forward, which will ultimately fail in keeping the promises for the people of Hong Kong. I found this to be insightful and informative, and very timely given the current political situation.

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Real Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up because it's so damned urgent

<B>The Publisher Says</b>: A gripping history of China's deteriorating relationship with Hong Kong, and its implications for the rest of the world.

For 150 years as a British colony, Hong Kong was a beacon of prosperity where people, money, and technology flowed freely, and residents enjoyed many civil liberties. In preparation for handing the territory over to China in 1997, Deng Xiaoping promised that it would remain highly autonomous for fifty years. An international treaty established a Special Administrative Region (SAR) with a far freer political system than that of Communist China—one with its own currency and government administration, a common-law legal system, and freedoms of press, speech, and religion.

But as the halfway mark of the SAR’s lifespan approaches in 2022, it is clear that China has not kept its word. Universal suffrage and free elections have not been instituted, harassment and brutality have become normalized, and activists are being jailed en masse. To make matters worse, a national security law that further crimps Hong Kong’s freedoms has recently been decreed in Beijing. This tragic backslide has dire worldwide implications—as China continues to expand its global influence, Hong Kong serves as a chilling preview of how dissenters could be treated in regions that fall under the emerging superpower’s control.

<I>Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World</i> tells the complete story of how a city once famed for protests so peaceful that toddlers joined grandparents in millions-strong rallies became a place where police have fired more than 10,000 rounds of tear gas, rubber bullets and even live ammunition at their neighbors, while pro-government hooligans attack demonstrators in the streets. A Hong Kong resident from 1992 to 2021, author Mark L. Clifford has witnessed this transformation firsthand. As a celebrated publisher and journalist, he has unrivaled access to the full range of the city’s society, from student protestors and political prisoners to aristocrats and senior government officials. A powerful and dramatic mix of history and on-the-ground reporting, this book is the definitive account of one of the most important geopolitical standoffs of our time.

<B>I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU.

My Review</b>: It is, in light of China's Xi and Russia's Putin <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/russias-vladimir-putin-meets-with-chinese-leader-xi-jinping-in-beijing-11643966743">inking a deal for "world domination",</a> beyond urgent that we listen to Author Clifford's personal experience on China's until-now slow, patient, and carefully deniable march towards world domination.

There are simply too many hyperlinks for me to fuss around with...if you'd like to read the rest of my review, please see it at my blog (link below).

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Powerful, eye-opening, jaw-dropping. I’ve always wondered about the relationship between Hong Kong and China, and how it all started. I’m glad I read this; at least now I have an idea what had happened before the handover and how and why China wants to take everything HK has achieved. Somehow it felt so similar to what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine. This is a must-read, especially if you’re into current events. It’s well-written and researched, and very accessible.

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When Hong Kong was returned to Mainland China I was wondering how long it would be before China would renege on the agreement. Will this be a precursor to what can happen to Taiwan? After reading this very well researched history of how this happened to Hong Kong I wish everyone would read it. Given the present world situation Hong Kong and Taiwan will just be the beginning.
My thanks to the publisher St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Mark Clifford brilliantly weaves together an easy-to-understand look at what's happened in Hong Kong over the years, spanning from before the 1997 handover to current day, with a focus on the last few years. As a Hong Konger, I'm forever grateful for Clifford's insights + his clear-cut way of writing. I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning about what's been going on in Hong Kong over the years.

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