From Ukraine to Hong Kong: The Art of Maintaining Autonomy at the Juncture of Empires
Hung Ho-fung, Ph.D.
In the general election in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the magnate of chocolate, was overwhelmingly elected. In the first round of voting, he already gained more than half of the votes and the second round could thus be waived. Poroshenko advocates acceleration of Ukraine’s integration into Europe, as well as reparation of relations with Russia. He denounces pro-Russia militias in Eastern Ukraine as terrorists and Somali-pirates. But he also promises to negotiate with separatists in the East by peaceful means in order to resolve the current crisis. He is therefore a full fledged slippery moderate.
A slippery fellow is not necessarily lovable to every one, but this may be what Ukraine, long ridden by splitting and at the edge of a civil war, most urgently needs. His winning the election makes it easy for all powers, that have pulled at Ukraine from different directions on the outside, to back out gracefully for the time being. When the election result came out, Russia had already seized Crimea. She now has to face economic blockade by the West, economic recession, and stock market plus foreign exchange crashes. As a consequence, Putin has impatiently expressed his willingness to co-operate with the new government of Ukraine. Obama has also rushed to arrange a meeting with the new president in early June.
Initially, left-wing jerks all over the world mistakenly believed in the venomous media of Russian imperialism and alleged that since the people of Kiev took to the streets and overthrew the pro-Russia president, Ukraine had already shown a fascist tendency. The right-wing fascist extremists in Europe are all anti-EU, and quite a few of them worship Putin. Those irresponsible comments fail to explain how come anti-Russia Ukrainians in support of Ukraine joining the EU are fascist. The left-wing critics simply believe whatever the propaganda machine of Putin spills out. Nonetheless, a blatantly right-wing fascist organization, which had sent representatives to run for the presidential election, was badly defeated in the exercise. That was a slap in the face of those claiming that “Ukraine has turned into a fascist state”.
On the other hand, the pro-Russia separatist militias in Eastern Ukraine, regarded by Russian imperialist media and their blind followers as the vanguard of anti-fascism and anti-Nazism, were so afraid of democratic election that they tried to prevent by force the people from casting their votes, just like Taliban and Al Qaeda. No sooner had Poroshenko won the election and the blessing of various powers, than the Kiev government launched a large-scale counter-attack to clean up the militias. It seems unlikely that Russia will intervene to help them.
Of course, the situation in Ukraine cannot be said to be stable. However, when the dust settles, Ukraine may embark on a line of balance between the EU and Russia. In the delicate balance, she will carefully forge a third space of autonomy. Some critics not reasonably point out that this is akin to Finland’s pathway of autonomy and balance between Russia and the West in those years.
In Taiwan, President Ma Ying Jeou has been criticized by his opponents for finlandizing Taiwan in his deferring to the oppressive China in sundry respects. However, for Hong Kong, which is now being reduced to an ordinary city along the coast of China, it may be a good thing to become something like Finland in the cold war, cleverly maintaining its own autonomy between the East and the West, neither provoking the external empires at will nor kowtowing to them.