The New Republic talks about the deterioration of Hong Kong's democratic process by the controlling Chinese. I had my fears as to the fate of the island when the British prepared to hand it back over to China in '97. Many shared those fears which is why my family made the trip to Hong Kong in 1996 and why many fled from it, fearing chaos and stripping of rights. But the transition seemed to go rather smoothly with China proclaiming that it would operate under the idea of "one country, two systems". The territory is such a massive cash cow that it looked like China was content to let things stay the way they were in order to leech off of the financial gain.
Now, slowly but surely, the Chinese government is eroding away the existing democracy while eyeing Taiwan in the distance. I've never been a proponent of the U.S.'s role as the world's watchdog; in fact, I wish we would take on a less involved policy similar to the early 1900s. But the fact is that the U.S. and its leaders have shown a desire to spread "democracy and freedom". That makes their reluctance to step in to this situation rather curious. The situation is not nearly as dire or violent as Iraq, where we're entrenched deep in a conflict to place a foothold for democratic control. Hong Kong seems like a much more winnable agenda.
So what are the real motivations behind this inaction? Fear of stirring things up with China, the world's last real Communist power? Over-extending the already strained resources of our military? It's clear that the government wants very badly to establish some sort of democratic seat in the Middle East and the less advertised oil implications are obvious. But Hong Kong is a behemonth as far as importing and exporting. It's not like this is some insignificant country we have no stake in.
Iraq is a situation that we are in and the reality is that we're in too deep to easily break away from to concentrate on other things. Still, the Hong Kong issue seems like a situation that can still be resolved in a swift, peaceful manner. If the democracy in the territory is dissolved, then Taiwan may not be far behind. Then the U.S. will face a much larger and more dangerous predicament.