476,000 people rally in Hong Kong to say “no” to violence

‘I love Hong Kong’

‘Hong Kong is part of China forever’

‘I support Hong Kong police’

‘The five-star red banner has 1.4 billion defenders’

‘Say “no” to violence’

These and more were slogans used on banners and in chants at a rally of 476,000 people in Hong Kong today (17 August). These regular rallies gain more and more participants on each occasion, indicating that the tide has turned against the relatively small number of masked, black-clad perpretators of the violence (who use home-made spears, petrol bombs, corrosive liquids, lethal slingshots and much more, having thus far injured 5,139 police officers).

A couple of pictures, but you can find the full stories here and here.

Also worthy of note is a rally of 3,000 in Sydney, Australia, also saddened by the violence and supporting Hong Kong as part of China forever.

Finally, if you are into these things, you can find what is trending on Chinese social media (which of course includes Hong Kong). Many have repeated the items with which I began, especially the one by Hong Kong resident and Global Times reporter, Fu Guohao, who had his hands and feet tied and was beaten up at Hong Kong airport. As he was surrounded, he said, ‘I support the Hong Kong police. You can beat me now’. The moment happened to be videoed and went viral.

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The tide is turning against the masked mob violence in Hong Kong

As the masked mob spreads violence in Hong Kong, the tide is clearly turning against such acts.

Local newspapers recently ran a front page statement, headed ‘Hong Kong has had enough of it‘.

International observers are noticing how the black-clad and masked perpetrators use petrol bombs, rocks, air-guns and others means to attack visitors, reporters, citizens and police. The vast majority of Hong Kong residents want a return to peace and stability.

There are calls to revise the educational curricula, which are still infused with too much Western liberal popaganda, as well as insuring that socialist rule of law prevails.

And we cannot forget the crucial long-term role played by a handful of former colonisers in interfering with Chinese sovereignty. Needless to say, the demands for an end to such violations of sovereignty are perfectly understandable.

Throughout it all, it is noticeable that China will continue on its own path and not be swayed by external pressures. Thus, the ‘one country – two systems’ approach is being rigorously upheld. This applies even to the possible deployment of Hong Kong’s PLA garrison. On this matter, I have copied the article below from The Global Times.

Even if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison is deployed to maintain social order in Hong Kong, the “one country, two systems” approach will not be damaged, said a Chinese expert.

The remark was made by Han Dayuan, a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, at a press briefing held by the Information Office of the State Council on Thursday.

Citing the law that governs the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, Han said that the Hong Kong regional government could ask the central government to allow the PLA garrison in Hong Kong to help maintain social order and carry out disaster relief missions when necessary.

Han also cited Article 18 of the Basic Law, which reads: In the event that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decides to declare a state of war or, by reason of turmoil within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the government of the Region, decides that the Region is in a state of emergency, the Central People’s Government may issue an order applying the relevant national laws in the Region.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is entitled to judge, decide and declare on a state of emergency, Han stressed, noting that there are strict standards.

Exercising these laws would not mean the failure of “one country, two systems,” because the meaning of ruling Hong Kong by law is to safeguard national sovereignty, Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and Hong Kong residents’ rights and freedom through the rule of law, Han said.

“One country” comes first in “one country, two systems,” and the start point of “one country, two systems” is the unity and dignity of the country, Han said.

Neo-colonialism and Hong Kong: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming responds to a couple of ignorant UK politicians

Following my earlier post about ‘Colonial Policy By Other Means‘ (in relation to Hong Kong and Taiwan), I have been enjoying reading the replies by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, in response to one or two ignorant politicians in the UK, who have been cheering on the violence in Hong Kong.

In reply to someone called Jeremy Hunt (seems to be important over there):

It seems that he [Jeremy Hunt] is still immersed in the faded glory of colonialism. He is obsessed with condescendingly criticizing other countries. He keeps lying without remorse. Here I will say a few more words.

First, after Hong Kong’s return to China, British rights and obligations as outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration were completed. On July 1, 1997, China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong. The Chinese Government started exercising jurisdiction over Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR.

The UK has no sovereignty or rights to rule and supervise Hong Kong after the handover. There is no room for Britain to claim any so-called responsibility over Hong Kong whatsover. Claiming itself the guardian of Hong Kong is nothing more than self-entertaining.

Second, Mr Hunt says that the UK negotiated freedoms for Hong Kong. How brazen is that! Was there any democracy when the British governors were in Hong Kong? People in Hong Kong didn’t even have the right to take to the streets then. It is only after the return that Hong Kong residents started enjoying unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms. The Chinese Government strictly follows the Constitution and the Basic Law. It earnestly implements the  one country, two systems” policy. It ensures that the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.

Third, the violent storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 is a grave illegal activity. It tramples on the rule of law and undermines social order. In total disregard of facts, Mr. Hunt called the SAR government’s response “repression”. That is entirely misleading. I want to ask Mr. Hunt, if it were the British Parliament that had been stormed and vandalized, what would the British government do? Will it sit by idly and let the protesters have their way? If this is the democracy he believes in, should the police guarding the Parliament withdraw to allow in protesters across the street? Will he call the British police’s handling of the August 2011 riot in London “repression”?

I shall stress that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region. Its affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. They brook no interference from any country, organization or individual in any form. We hope that the UK side, especially Mr. Hunt, will cease to overreach and interfere. Such attempts are doomed to fail.

And in reply to last colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who claims that as a former colony, the UK has a ‘right’ to interfere:

As the last governor of Hong Kong, his body is in the 21st century, but his head remains in the old colonial days. This bill won’t make it easier for Hong Kong to extradite people to the mainland. There are many safeguards. You know, first of all, there are 37 clauses as safeguards in this Bill. That means, no people would be extradited to mainland because of their religious or political beliefs. And the crime has to be punishable in both places. That means, to make an extreme case, if murder was not regarded as a crime in Hong Kong, then people who committed murder would not be extradited to the mainland.

As for the bill of extradition itself, what was its origin?

The whole thing was started by Hong Kong SAR government. Just as the Chief Executive said, she received no instruction from Beijing. She received no order from Beijing. It is completely the initiative launched by Hong Kong SAR government, to make Hong Kong system more perfect, to improve the legal system.

You mentioned “One China, Two Systems” for 50 years. We are fully committed to this promise. There is no question about that. So you can see that from day one till now, the central government has not interfered at all. Every step of the way, we let the Hong Kong SAR government handle this. Instead, it is the British government that was trying to interfere, voicing support for the demonstrators … they tried to obstruct the legal process. To answer your question in a simple way, have full confidence in Hong Kong SAR government. And it shows that they are capable of handling the situation.

 

Celebrating Hong Kong’s Return: Xi Jinping’s Speech

Big celebrations this weekend in Hong Kong, with the 20-year anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. For some strange reason, corporate media is not making much of the important speech by Xi Jinping, who today is wrapping up a three day visit. The full speech can be found here, but I would like to highlight a few features.

First, the story of Hong Kong is very much part of the story of modern China, moving from the humiliation at the hands of European colonialism to the overcoming of humiliation under the leadership of the CPC. As Xi puts it:

The destiny of Hong Kong has always been intricately bound with that of the motherland. After modern times, with a weak China under corrupt and incompetent feudal rule, the Chinese nation was plunged into deep suffering. In the early 1840s, Britain sent an expeditionary force of a mere 10,000 troops to invade China and got its way in forcing the Qing government, which had an 800,000-strong army, to pay reparations and cede the island of Hong Kong to it. After the Opium War, China was repeatedly defeated by countries which were far smaller in size and population. Kowloon and “New Territories” were forcibly taken away. That page of Chinese history was one of humiliation and sorrow. It was not until the Communist Party of China led the Chinese people to victory in a dauntless and tenacious struggle for national independence and liberation and founded New China that the Chinese people truly stood up and blazed a bright path of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. Thanks to close to four decades of dedicated efforts since the launch of the reform and opening-up policy in the late 1970s, we have entered a new era in the development of the Chinese nation.

Further, the role of Deng Xiaoping is crucial, not merely with the reform and opening up (gaige kaifang) from 1978, with its emphasis on the central Marxist feature of unleashing the forces of production under socialism, but also the policy of ‘one country, two systems’.

It was against the historical backdrop of reform and opening-up that Mr. Deng Xiaoping put forward the great vision of “One Country, Two Systems”, which guided China’s diplomatic negotiations with the United Kingdom that led to the successful resolution of the Hong Kong question, an issue that was left over from the past. Twenty years ago today, Hong Kong returned to the embrace of the motherland. This ended past humiliation and marked a major step forward toward the complete reunification of China. Hong Kong’s return to the motherland has gone down as a monumental achievement in the history of the Chinese nation. Hong Kong has since then embarked on a journey of unity and common development with the motherland.

In case you wanted to know about the exact status of Hong Kong in relation to the rest of China, Xi lays it out very clearly:

As a special administrative region directly under the Central Government, Hong Kong has been re-integrated into China’s national governance system since the very day of its return. The Central Government exercises jurisdiction over Hong Hong in accordance with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, and corresponding systems and institutions have been set up for the special administrative region. Hong Kong’s ties with the mainland have grown increasingly close, so have its interactions and cooperation with the mainland.

In short, one country, two systems, means that Hong Kong can remain capitalist while the rest of China is socialist. This is also a model for global cooperation.

But they say of Xi Jinping that he is ’round on the outside and square on the inside’ In other words, he is very gentle and understanding in dealing with people, but very tough inside. For example:

To uphold and implement the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” meets the interests of the Hong Kong people, responds to the needs of maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, serves the fundamental interests of the nation, and meets the shared aspiration of all Chinese. That is why I have made it clear that the Central Government will unswervingly implement the policy of “One Country, Two Systems” and make sure that it is fully applied in Hong Kong without being bent or distorted.

Indeed, as is common in the tradition of leaders of socialist states, a speech also engages in criticism and self-criticism. Of course, there are problems that need to be addressed, such as distorted images among some of Chinese history and culture, public consensus of key political and legal issues, the challenges as Hong Kong loses its economic edge, the pressure on housing and opportunities for young people, and so on.

Let me emphasise these points:

First, in line with the nationalities policy from the 1990s, China’s sovereignty is not negotiable:

“One Country” is like the roots of a tree. For a tree to grow tall and luxuriant, its roots must run deep and strong. The concept of “One Country, Two Systems” was advanced, first and foremost, to realize and uphold national unity. That is why in the negotiations with the United Kingdom, we made it categorically clear that sovereignty is not for negotiation. Now that Hong Kong has returned to China, it is all the more important for us to firmly uphold China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.

Dialectically, this enables the diversity of the ‘two systems’, as embodied in the Constitution:

We must both adhere to the “One Country” principle and respect the differences of the “Two Systems”, both uphold the power of the Central Government and ensure a high degree of autonomy in the HKSAR, both give play to the role of the mainland as a staunch supporter of Hong Kong and enhance Hong Kong’s own competitiveness.

Another aspect of Chinese (and indeed socialist) culture is the simultaneous desire for peace and harmony, as well as the constant process of criticism. At times, this relationship can suffer by focusing on one or the other side too much:

So it comes as no surprise that there are different views and even major differences on some specific issues. However, making everything political or deliberately creating differences and provoking confrontation will not resolve the problems. On the contrary, it can only severely hinder Hong Kong’s economic and social development.

In other words:

Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the Central Government and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line, and is absolutely impermissible.

As Mao would put it, contradictions are to be expected, but antagonistic contradictions are not acceptable. Or as Xi puts it, invoking a traditional concept: ‘Harmony brings good fortune, while discord leads to misfortune’.

Xi wraps up his speech by invoking key features of CPC policy:

China is now in a decisive phase to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. People of all ethnic groups across the country are engaged in a joint endeavor to realize the Two Centenary Goals and fulfill the Chinese Dream of national renewal. Ensuring the continued success of the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong is part and parcel of the Chinese Dream.

All the key ideas are here (which I have written about extensively elsewhere). The ‘moderately prosperous society’ (xiaokang shehui) isa key element of Chinese socialism, drawing on a Confucian term, xiaokang. This is expressed in Xi’s signature ‘Chinese Dream’, which has the concrete elements of the two centenary goals. The first is the centenary of the CPC in 2021 and the second is the centenary of the People’s Republic in 2049. During this period the moderately prosperous society through ‘socialist modernisation’. How? Through lifting the remaining people, mostly in western China, out of poverty (700 million have so far been lifted out of poverty since 1978), through gradually bringing about a socialist welfare state (an original invention of socialism), through the Belt and Road Initiative, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank, and – with specific reference to Hong Kong – the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

So what is Hong Kong to do in light of this? Xi quotes a local saying:

After leaving Suzhou, a traveler will find it hard to get a ride on a boat, meaning an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost.

United States interference in Hong Kong

The ‘hybrid Color Revolution-Arab Spring’ template has been at work in Hong Kong. No surprises there. Tiananmen Square, Serbia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Egypt, and so on – they have seen variations on the template, in which Washington outsources its interference and attempted ‘regime change’ to NGOs or innocuously sounding regime agencies, like the National Endowment for Democracy (which is really an arm of the CIA).

But before looking at the situation in Hong Kong further, let us go back to Domenco Losurdo’s point concerning the devious nature of of the end of British colonial occupation of Hong Kong in 1999:

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 [or bourgeois democracy for that matter] even during the long years during 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 (‘Lenin and Herrenvolk Democracy,’ p. 249).

Back to more recent events in Hong Kong, especially in relation to externally fostered protests. As the People’s Daily astutely points out:

According to media reports, Louisa Greve, a director of the National Endowment for Democracy of the US (NED), was already meeting with the key people from “Occupy Central” several months ago, to talk about the movement. Louisa Greve is the vice-president of NED who is responsible for its Asia, Middle East and North Africa programs. For many years, her name has frequently appeared on reports about “Tibetan independence”, “eastern Turkistan”, “democracy movement” and other forces destabilizing Chinese affairs and interfering with the Chinese government. She also hosted or participated in conferences about the “Arab spring” and the “Color Revolutions” of other regions.

It is hardly likely that the US will admit to manipulating the “Occupy Central” movement, just as it will not admit to manipulating other anti-China forces … The US purports to be promoting the “universal values” of “democracy”, “freedom” and “human rights”, but in reality the US is simply defending its own strategic interests and undermining governments it considers to be “insubordinate”. In US logic, a”democratic” country is one that conducts its affairs in line with American interests.

The results of America’s “Color Revolutions” have hardly been a success. The “Arab spring” turned to be an “Arab winter” and Ukraine’s “street politics” have resulted in secession and conflict. There is little evidence of any real democracy in these countries, but the US turns a blind eye.

I must admit, I am in agreement with that. And just to make matters clear:

The US may enjoy the sweet taste of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, but on the issue of Hong Kong it stands little chance of overcoming the determination of the Chinese government to maintain stability and prosperity.