On many levels, the Hong Kong protests represent the proverbial canary in a coal mine in terms of China's intentions for the Indo-Pacific. The manner in which the situation unfolds in Hong Kong could transform the region's geopolitical balance.

Japan is deeply connected to Hong Kong as it is the home of countless Japanese businesses that rely on the increasingly tenuous "one country, two systems" formula to conduct business with Hong Kong and mainland China. Hong Kong is also home to tens of thousands of Japanese residents who act as grassroots ambassadors and forge strong people-to-people ties between Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China.

Intervention by Beijing or further escalation of the violence in Hong Kong would destabilize this important bridge between Japan and the greater China region.