Hong Kong is poised for a showdown with China when the Chinese parliament meets later on Sunday, with the largely rubber-stamp body likely to snuff out hopes for a democratic breakthrough in the regional financial hub at elections due in 2017.
And they do this without thinking that the outside world can do much to help if the Chinese go postal on them.
It is interesting that in Chinese minds, democracy is linked to foreign influence:
China has warned against any foreign interference ahead of a crucial ruling on the city's political future on Sunday, saying Beijing will not tolerate the use of Hong Kong "as a bridgehead to subvert and infiltrate the mainland".
China's largely rubber-stamp parliament is set to meet on Sunday, when it is expected to limit 2017 elections for Hong Kong's leader to a handful of pro-Beijing candidates, a move likely to escalate plans by pro-democracy activists to blockade the city's Central business district on Sunday.
Perhaps only Chinese fear of economic disruption if Peking kills the Hong Kong goose that lays the golden egg keeps China from teaching these pro-democracy forces a harsh and bloody lesson.
Or China just figures they can put up with the disruptions until 2017 when only tame Hong Kongers will be allowed to hold power.
Still, even success by Peking in snuffing out these stirrings for democracy will cause collateral damage:
If indeed there had ever been a “Chiwan” on the horizon – a tighter relationship between China and Taiwan – it is fast receding, with Taipei affronting Beijing on almost weekly intervals, lately at least partly because of China’s unbending opposition to universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Sadly, with Hong Kong under their control, China can't just say the right words and trick the gullible. Actions easily seen by Taiwanese undermine the nice words in a way that China's actions in distant Tibet and Xinjiang can't.
Yes indeed, the canary in the China: "mine!"
UPDATE: Strategypage has more about Hong Kong, with bonus material on other issues I've discussed: mirror imaging, Chinese fears of disintegration, and overly inflated views of power warping decision-making. And more.