FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA – Since the protests in Hong Kong started two months ago, I have been struck by the coolness of the American response. I am referring not just to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has reiterated that the dispute is an internal Chinese matter. Both the social media I sample and the people I know have been fairly quiescent. I haven’t seen that much cheering and rooting for the protesters, nor have the major Democratic presidential candidates made a show of stressing their dissent from Trump on this issue.
Why the relative lack of interest? The Hong Kong protesters seem to have a worthy cause. They have varied goals, but many of them favor independence and democratization. In the meantime, they would like to keep relative autonomy, for instance by holding off the originally proposed Chinese extradition law. They also have been remarkably peaceful and orderly, with few reports of them initiating violence. Some of the younger protesters have even been photographed doing their homework in their moments of downtime. As political causes go, this one seems pretty close to ideal.