The West has consistently got China wrong. But it’s not just China. The United States, rather frequently, backs the wrong horse when dealing with other people’s problems in their own backyards. Maybe they should realise they shouldn’t back any “horses” in the first place because it’s none of their business. In the end, they tend to make a mess for themselves and everyone else. Nathan Law Kwun-chung is the latest of those “horses”. Now living in Britain, he is being treated like a Hong Kong leader in exile . When outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited London in July, one of his first stops was to have tea with Law. When British Home Secretary Priti Patel reached out this week to consult on a new BN(O) – British National (Overseas) – scheme for Hong Kong passport holders, she invited Law and a sister of a city fugitive detained on the mainland, with the British and Hong Kong flags as background for the photo op. Unmistakably, that meant the British government saw him as a symbolic representative of Hong Kong and its people. Just one problem: Law doesn’t represent the pan-democratic movement or even the anti-government protest movement in which he took an active part; and the protest movement does not represent Hong Kong. Westminster and Washington really are running out of options to pick such a young person who has never held down a proper job in his entire life. Imagine if the Hong Kong and central governments start treating British opposition members as government leaders or consulting French “yellow vest” protest leaders in place of Emmanuel Macron. Asian leaders understand the havoc that would cause. But Western governments, especially Washington, have a habit of idolising or demonising foreign leaders and their countries, without bothering with the complexities on the ground. They are especially fond of championing activists who have made heroic sacrifices, in the name of democracy, in the fight against dictatorship. But Law has made no real sacrifices and Hong Kong is not a dictatorship. There are no simple solutions to the complex challenges facing Hong Kong. Neither democracy nor its self-proclaimed champions will offer a solution. Instead, their struggle has wreaked havoc. The only viable solution to the city’s long-term stability and prosperity is full integration with the country’s southern region, which is also its economic engine. Western governments will get out of the way, one way or another.