One of the defining moments of the Cold War took place in June 1963 when President John F. Kennedy declared in German “I am a Berliner.” This statement communicated to the Kremlin that there would be real costs if it tried to end that city’s highly symbolic opposition to Communist oppression. JFK succeeded in deterring a Soviet assault on West Berlin.
Today, another city that is similarly an outpost of freedom faces an imminent threat from another ruthless Communist regime. The people of Hong Kong urgently need a similar expression of solidarity to deter a seemingly imminent Chinese crackdown.
America’s bipartisan leadership should declare today that “We are Hong Kongers.” If combined with a commitment to end the Chinese Communists’ ability to exploit Hong Kong’s Most Favored Nation trade status in the event its autonomy is ended, deterrence may just work again.