Last night I dreamt of China as the Sleeping Dragon and Hong Kong as the gateway the dragon goes through to enter the rest of the world.

When I researched this expression about China I discovered that Napoleon Bonaparte once said; “Let China sleep; when she wakes she will shake the world.” In Napoleon’s rule this led to the expression of China as a “Sleeping Dragon”.

Little could Napoleon have known that the dragon would begin shaking the world in the form of a virus.

In the past 150 years China has moved from being the biggest economy in the world (early 1800s), to being attacked and abused by the Alliance of 8, to losing the first world war, surviving the second world war, closing itself from 1945 to the 1980s opening. From the 1980s, China has been growing by leaps and bounds and the economy’s size has gone from being unnoticed and out of the G8, to competing with the USA in terms of size. [1] Today China is an economic giant and with the current instability and political crisis effecting the USA, is it possible that China will reemerge as a global dominance? [1]

In the dream I saw the first place China ‘conquer’ is Hong Kong. Relations between people in Hong Kong and mainland China have been relatively tense since the early 2000s. Various factors have contributed, including different interpretations of the “one country, two systems” principle; policies of the Hong Kong and central governments to encourage mainland visitors to Hong Kong; and the changing economic environment. More broadly, there exists resentment toward mainland-Hong Kong convergence or assimilation, and toward perceived interference from mainland China in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. [2]

In recent times Hong Kong’s protest movement began as opposition to a now-suspended extradition bill but evolved into a direct challenge to the city’s government and calls for full democracy. Beyond their immediate demands, many young protesters, express fears for the future – anxiety that reflects broader uncertainty over China’s promise to Britain to maintain the freewheeling city’s way of life for 50 years. That 50-year period runs out in 2047. [3]

The fears are twofold. Firstly, many Hong Kong people have watched what they see as Beijing’s tightening grip on their city, from the detention of booksellers by mainland security agents to the expulsion of a foreign journalist, the jailing of young activists, sweeping legal interpretations by Beijing on city matters, and curbs on electoral freedom.

Their fears reflect uncertainty over Hong Kong’s future that is written into the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that has guided Hong Kong’s relations with Beijing since the handover from British rule in 1997.

The dream indicated that this is the beginning of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) expansion of global dominance and that the democratic governments of the world need to have an effective approach to manage existing international agreements. A role once held by America’s traditional role as a stabilising global force.

An article written yesterday in The Guardian by Michael H Fuchs expels the need for the US to stand stand up for Honk Kong to deter China’s crackdowns but with so much strife in their own back yard it is difficult to see how the Trump administration could possibly manage this, even if they had the will to do it. [3]

Professor Henry Carey of Georgia State University acknowledges differences in causes of localised unrest now sweeping the world, but he also identifies shared characteristics. He writes:

Each protest in this worldwide wave has its own local dynamic and cause. But they also share certain characteristics: fed up with rising inequality, corruption and slow economic growth, angry citizens worldwide are demanding an end to corruption and the restoration of the democratic rule of law.

Carey makes the useful point that, as the world becomes more urbanised, overcrowded cities are staging points in a global wave of unrest. [5]

But in the meantime, the Dragon has woken from its slumber, and is being aided by an administration in Washington that has yielded ground to authoritarian dictatorships at a time of global unrest in which stable Western leadership has never been more necessary.