Truth from facts in regard to Hong Kong: Liu Xiaoming (Chinese ambassador to UK)

‘Seek truth from facts’ was one of Deng Xiaoping’s key positions, and it is well worth remembering in relation to Hong Kong. Below is an articulate, sharp and factual statement from Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK. It has been published in full in the People’s Daily.

Reiterating that the Central Government has enough solutions and enough power within the limits of the Basic Law to quell any unrest, Chinese Ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, called for media from home and abroad to report the Hong Kong issue in a just and objective manner during a press conference at the Chinese Embassy on Thursday.

During the conference, Liu provided materials from different sources on the current situation in Hong Kong, with a short video clip showing protesters attack Hong Kong police and the public’s negative opinions towards these acts of violence, which are heavily neglected by the Western media. Following is the full text of the opening remarks given by the Ambassador:

Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Press Conference at the Chinese Embassy

Chinese Embassy, 15 August 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning! Welcome to the Chinese Embassy.

On 3 July, I held a press conference here to answer questions about the amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws and to explain China’s position. For more than a month since then, the opposition in Hong Kong and some radical forces have continued to use their opposition to the amendments as an excuse for various types of radical street protests. The violence involved has escalated and the damage to the society has expanded. The movement has gone way beyond free assembly and peaceful protests. It is posing a severe challenge to law and order in Hong Kong, threatening the safety of life and property of the Hong Kong people, undermining the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and challenging the principled bottom line of “One Country, Two Systems”. As a result, Hong Kong now faces the gravest situation since its handover.

A handful of extreme radicals have been undermining rule of law, social order and “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong. But they have taken cover under the so-called “pro-democracy movement” to hide their real intention and to whitewash their disruptive actions. This “neo-extremism” is both highly deceptive and destructive. The “neo-extremists” stormed the Legislative Council Complex, attacked the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, assaulted police officers and brought Hong Kong airport to a standstill by illegal assembly. Their moves are severe and violent offences, and already show signs of terrorism. The Central Government of China would never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous abyss. We would never allow anyone to harm the rule of law and sound development in Hong Kong. We would never allow anyone to undermine “One Country, Two Systems” at any excuse. Should the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further into unrests uncontrollable for the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Central Government would not sit on its hands and watch. We have enough solutions and enough power within the limit of the Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly.

This is a critical moment for Hong Kong. How will this end? This question is in the mind of all those who care about the future of Hong Kong. It is also hitting headlines and making “cover stories” in British media. Our answer to this question is firm and clear: We hope this will end in an orderly way. In the meantime, we are fully prepared for the worst. So how will this end in an orderly way? I think the following four points are extremely important.

First, the priority now is to support the SAR Government in ending violence and restoring order. I hope that Hong Kong people, especially the young people who have been led astray, would have a clear understanding of the current situation in Hong Kong and cherish the sound development of Hong Kong after the handover, which has not come by easily. I hope they will keep the big picture in mind, rally behind the Chief Executive and the SAR Government, uphold rule of law and justice in Hong Kong, and safeguard national unification as well as Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. Hong Kong people from all walks of life must refuse to be used or coerced by the radical forces. They should say “no” to all violence and lawlessness. They should support the SAR Government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with law, and support the Hong Kong police in strict and rigorous enforcement.

Second, the violent offenders must be brought to justice in accordance with law. It is the basic requirement of the rule of law that all laws must be observed and all offenders must be held accountable. The violent and lawless perpetrators must be brought to justice no matter who they are or however hard they try to whitewash their actions. If anyone in this country questions this point, let me ask them this: Would the UK allow extremists to storm the Palace of Westminster or damage its facilities, and get away with it? Would the UK give permission for attacking police officers with lethal weapons or set fire to the police station without any punishment? Would the UK allow so-called pro-democracy rioters to occupy the airport, obstruct traffic, disturb social order or threaten the safety of people’s life and property? Aren’t all these regarded as crimes in the UK?

Indulging lawlessness is tantamount to blaspheming against justice. Conniving in violence is tantamount to trampling on the rule of law. No country under the rule of law, no responsible government, would sit back and watch as such violence rages on. The Central Government of China firmly supports the SAR Government and Hong Kong police in strict, rigorous and decisive enforcement, so as to bring the offenders to justice as soon as possible and uphold the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong.

Third, foreign forces must stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs. Evidence shows that the situation in Hong Kong would not have deteriorated so much had it not been for the interference and incitement of foreign forces. Some Western politicians and organisations have publicly or covertly given various types of support to the violent radicals, and tried to interfere in the judicial independence of Hong Kong and obstruct Hong Kong police from bringing the violent offenders to justice.

I want to reiterate here that Hong Kong is part of China; no foreign country should interfere in Hong Kong affairs. We urge those foreign forces to respect China’s sovereignty and security, immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop conniving in violent offences. They should not misjudge the situation and go down the wrong path. Otherwise, they will “lift the stone only to drop it on their own feet”.

Fourth, the media must shoulder due social responsibilities. Since what happened in Hong Kong, I have to say, the Western media have failed to play a credible role. Instead of reporting the situation in a just and objective manner, they have confused right and wrong, given unbalanced account and misled the public. There has been massive coverage on so-called “right to peaceful protest” but few reports on the violent offences by the extreme radicals such as disruption of social order, attacks on police officers and injuries to bystanders. There has not been a word about the extensive public support for the SAR Government and for restoring law and order in Hong Kong. The lawless and violent offenders who undermine rule of law are whitewashed and named “pro-democracy activists” in media reports. But the legitimate law enforcement measures of the SAR Government and the police to uphold law and order and protect life and property of the people are labeled “repression”.

Such selective reporting and distortion have resulted in the prevalence of wrong information and have misled the public, especially young people in Hong Kong. It is fair to say that Western media have inescapable responsibility for the current situation in Hong Kong!

I sincerely hope that Western media would reflect on the social impact of their reporting, shoulder due social responsibilities, and report the situation in Hong Kong in a just and objective manner. I hope they would stop speaking up for the extreme violent offenders, refrain from pouring oil over the flame in Hong Kong, and foster a sound environment of public opinion so that law and order could be restored in Hong Kong.

“Order fosters prosperity while unrest brews regress.” Given what is happening in Hong Kong, this ancient Chinese teaching cannot be more relevant.

It is in the interests of both China and the international community including the UK to have a prosperous and stable Hong Kong, where over three hundred thousand British citizens live and work, and where three hundred British companies are doing business.

I sincerely hope that people from all walks of life in the UK will have a clear understanding of the big picture, act in the interest of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and refrain from saying or doing anything that interferes in Hong Kong’s affairs or undermines rule of law in Hong Kong. I am confident that with the support of the Central Government of China and under the leadership of the SAR Government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong will bring violence to an end and restore law and order at an early date. Hong Kong, the “oriental pearl”, will once again shine brightly.

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Colonial Policy by Other Means: Losurdo on Hong Kong’s Supposed ‘Self-Determination’

A small number of former colonial powers are fond of trotting out the mantra of ‘self-determination’ for parts of the world they would like to control. Hong Kong and Taiwan are good examples (even though the USA has the world’s strongest measures against self-determination of its own states). In the last few days, deliberate misinformation concerning Hong Kong has been peddled in a small number of places. If you want to get a fuller picture, see the reports here, here, here, here and here.

So it is worth recalling Losurdo’s observations on such a matter. The first comes from his essay, ‘Lenin and Herrenvolk Democracy’ (2007):

Colonial domination has left its mark: on the economic level, the inequality of development among different regions has been accentuated; while the hegemonic presence at every level of the great powers and the policy of ethnic engineering, often promoted by them, has accentuated cultural, linguistic, and religious fragmentation. Secessionist tendencies of every kind are once again lying in wait, regularly fed by the ex-colonial powers. When it wrested Hong Kong from China, Great Britain certainly did not conceive of self-determination, and it did not remember it even during the long years in which it exercised its dominion. But, suddenly, on the eve of Hong Kong’s return to China, to the motherland, the governor sent by London, Chris Patten, a conservative, had a species of illumination and improvised conversion: he appealed to the inhabitants of Hong Kong to claim their right to ‘self-determination’ against the motherland, thus remaining within the orbit of the British Empire.

Analogous considerations are true for Taiwan. When, at the beginning of 1947, the Kuomintang, which had fled from continental China and the victorious People’s Army, let loose a terrible repression that provoked about ten thousand deaths, the United States was careful not to invoke the right to self-determination for the inhabitants of the island; on the contrary, it sought to impose the thesis according to which Chiang Kai-shek’s government was the legitimate government not only of Taiwan but also of the whole of China. The great Asian country had to remain united but under the control of Chiang Kai-shek, reduced to a simple pro-consul of Washington’s sovereign imperialism. As the dream of reconquering the mainland slowly faded away, and the stronger became the aspiration of the whole Chinese people to achieve full territorial integration and independence, ending the tragic chapter of colonial history, so the presidents of the United States experienced an illumination and a conversion similar to that of Chris Patten. They too began to caress the idea of ‘self-determination’. Incoherence? Not at all: ‘self-determination’ is the continuation of imperial policy by other means. If it was not really possible to get their hands on China as a whole, it was, meanwhile, convenient to secure control of Hong Kong or Taiwan (249-50).

 

And as he writes in one his last books, Class Struggle (2016):

 

Perhaps it would be better to learn the lesson of old Hegel, who, with the Sanfedista and anti-Semitic agitation of his time in mind, observed that sometimes ‘courage consists not in attacking rulers, but in defending them’. The populist rebel who would be bound to consider Hegel insufficiently revolutionary could always heed Gramsci’s warning against the phraseology of ‘primitive, elementary “rebellionism,” “subversionism” and “anti-statism,” which are ultimately an expression of de facto “a-politicism”’ (337).

Concerning the Taiwan Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (updated)

We need to get used to a simple fact: Taiwan is part of China. It is not a separate state and virtually no country or international body in the world recognizes it as such. Everyone you ask on the mainland simply assumes that Taiwan is part of China. We should do likewise.

The Chinese government has been exceedingly patient on this one, allowing for a long time a type of double-speak. On the one hand, people speak of ‘Taiwan’ as though it were a state, and yet governments around the world, as well as the UN, recognize the ‘one China’ principle. But time is up and the double-speak needs to wind down.

To get a handle on the situation, it is useful to return to some observations by the man-of-few-words, Deng Xiaoping.

The first is ‘An Idea For the Peaceful Reunification of the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan’, from 1983. Deng observes:

The most important issue is the reunification of the motherland … The idea is not that one party should swallow up the other. We hope the two Parties will work together for national reunification and both contribute to the Chinese nation.

We do not approve of “complete autonomy” for Taiwan. There must be limits to autonomy, and where there are limits, nothing can be complete. “Complete autonomy” means two Chinas, not one. Different systems may be practised, but it must be the People’s Republic of China alone that represents China internationally. We recognize that the local government of Taiwan may have its own separate set of policies for domestic affairs. And although, as a special administrative region, Taiwan will have a local government, it will differ from local governments of other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Provided the national interests are not impaired, it will enjoy certain powers of its own that the others do not possess.

A year later, Deng made the following observations during talks in Hong Kong and in preparation for its long overdue return to China. This is from his famous ‘One Country, Two Systems’ piece:

We are pursuing a policy of “one country, two systems”. More specifically, this means that within the People’s Republic of China, the mainland with its one billion people will maintain the socialist system, while Hong Kong and Taiwan continue under the capitalist system. In recent years, China has worked hard to overcome “Left” mistakes and has formulated its policies concerning all fields of endeavour in line with the principle of proceeding from reality and seeking truth from facts. After five and a half years things are beginning to pick up. It is against this background that we have proposed to solve the Hong Kong and Taiwan problems by allowing two systems to coexist in one country.

The concept of “one country, two systems” has been formulated according to China’s realities, and it has attracted international attention. China has not only the Hong Kong problem to tackle but also the Taiwan problem. What is the solution to these problems? As for the second, is it for socialism to swallow up Taiwan, or for the “Three People’s Principles” preached by Taiwan to swallow up the mainland? The answer is neither. If the problem cannot be solved by peaceful means, then it must be solved by force. Neither side would benefit from that. Reunification of the motherland is the aspiration of the whole nation. If it cannot be accomplished in 100 years, it will be in 1,000 years. As I see it, the only solution lies in practising two systems in one country. The world faces the choice between peaceful and non-peaceful means of solving disputes. One way or the other, they must be solved. New problems must be solved by new means. The successful settlement of the Hong Kong question may provide useful elements for the solution of international questions. Has any government in the history of the world ever pursued a policy as generous as China’s? Is there anything recorded in the history of capitalism about any Western country doing something similar? When we adopt the policy of “one country, two systems” to resolve the Hong Kong question, we are not acting on impulse or playing tricks but are proceeding from reality and taking into full account the past and present circumstances of Hong Kong.

Update: Intriguingly, the 2018 local elections (apart from president), have comprehensively rejected the anti-mainland position of the Democratic Progressive Party. The pro-mainland Guomindang, which recognises the one-China policy, has been swept into power at all levels of local governance. For example, the Guomindang won 15 of 22 mayoral positions, while the margins at lower levels were even higher. Information can be found here, here, here and here.