Hong Kong: Checkmate or stalemate?

Six months after pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters began marching against an extradition law that would have allowed suspects to be tried in mainland courts, things in the semi-autonomous territory feel on the brink. The question is, the brink of what?

Rather than a sudden break that resolves the crisis one way or another – either a government capitulation or crackdown by Beijing – Hong Kong may instead be facing a prolonged, violent, and costly stalemate. Here's why:


The protests have taken on a life of their own. The Beijing-backed chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has already scrapped the extradition bill that sparked the protests back in March. The pro-democracy activists have made other demands, including the right to democratically elect Hong Kong's leaders, but with protesters and police locked in a deepening cycle of retribution against each other's latest actions, there's little Lam can offer to defuse tensions short of full capitulation and democratic reforms. And her masters in Beijing certainly won't allow that: it would send a message that protests, particularly in territories beyond the mainland, can work against the government.

But Beijing is also wary of intervening directly: Sending in troops to clear the streets would further inflame the popular backlash against Beijing's control over the former British territory. A crackdown could exact a steep financial toll by causing the US to cancel its tentative trade deal with China or slap damaging sanctions on Chinese firms. It could also spark a mass exodus of foreign workers, firms, and capital from Hong Kong which is a major financial hub for China and for Asia more broadly. For these reasons, barring a major loss of life or a total collapse of public order, Chinese president Xi Jinping will try hard to stay on the sidelines, lending less obvious support to Lam and her police force behind the scenes.

So where does that leave Hong Kong? Choking on tear gas for the foreseeable future, as police and protesters continue their confrontation with no clear path to a resolution. The basic problem is that each side feels it can wait out the other, but both are fearful of a huge escalation.

That deadlock might not exact as immediate a financial and human toll as a full-fledged crackdown. But Hong Kong's economic vitality will slowly seep away as businesses and expats move their money to other, more stable cities that offer access to the mainland and wider Asia.

Imagine losing your child in their first year of life and having no idea what caused it. This is the heartbreaking reality for thousands of families each year who lose a child to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Despite decades-long efforts to prevent SUID, it remains the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age in developed nations. Working in collaboration with researchers at Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Auckland, Microsoft analyzed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) data on every child born in the U.S. over a decade, including over 41 million births and 37,000 SUID deaths.

By pairing Microsoft's capabilities and data scientists with Seattle Children's medical research expertise, progress is being made on identifying the cause of SUID. Earlier this year, a study was published that estimated approximately 22% of SUID deaths in the U.S. were attributable to maternal cigarette-smoking during pregnancy, giving us further evidence that, through our collaboration with experts in varying disciplines, we are getting to the root of this problem and making remarkable advances.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

William Hague: What is my prediction for the election?

Well, I think that conservatives will definitely have a bigger lead in votes over the Labour Party than at the last election, two years ago. Now that should give them a majority in the House of Commons. But then there will be tactical voting between Labour and Liberal voters against the Conservatives. And there are many undecided people at the last minute. So, I would go for a small conservative majority, maybe around 20 seats, which is also what some of the most sophisticated pollsters have said.

David Miliband: Who do you predict will win the UK elections?

I'm very careful about predictions, especially about the future, as someone famously said. The polls are pretty clear that this has been a dismal campaign, an unpopularity contest in all sorts of ways in which the lesser of two evils is perceived by the voters to be a conservative vote. So, the polls are giving a range of possibilities from a hung parliament right through to a large conservative majority. Obviously, I don't know who's going to win. My tour around the country last week gave me a real sense, a yearning really, for a better choice, for better choices, for more fronting up by the parties, because both parties have done a job of avoiding some of the hardest choices. And so, I predict that whoever wins, there are some very difficult choices ahead. And the sooner that politics is about what you're asking for as well as what you're offering. As Tawney said, after Labour lost the 1931 election, "we offered too much and asked too little." The sooner politics is about shared endeavor, the better for the country.

After a months-long investigation into whether President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine's president into investigating his political rivals in order to boost his reelection prospects in 2020, House Democrats brought two articles of impeachment against him, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Click here for our GZERO guide to what comes next.

In the meantime, imagine for a moment that you are now Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader and senior member of Donald Trump's Republican Party. You've got big choices to make.

More Show less

Trump gets his deal – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that Democrats will back the USMCA, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Crucially, the bill will also have support from the nation's largest labor union. This is a major political victory for President Trump, who promised he would close this deal, but it's also good for Pelosi: it shows that the Democrats' House majority can still accomplish big things even as it impeaches the president. But with the speed of the Washington news cycle these days, we're watching to see if anyone is still talking about USMCA three days after it's signed.

More Show less