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Friday, June 05, 2020, 03:08
US’ poor record on freedom exposes its hypocrisy of criticism
By CK Yeung
Friday, June 05, 2020, 03:08 By CK Yeung

Let no one be fooled by the US’ feigned fury over the proposed national security law. America’s primary interest is not in protecting Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy but to use our city as a strategic weapon to build an alliance against China.

The US long ago disqualified itself as a defender of democracy and freedom. Look at what it did. In the name of national security, it has arrested university professors for failing to disclose research links with their Chinese peers, expelled Chinese graduate students, strong-armed the world to cut trade and technology ties with Huawei, eavesdropped on millions of people, including leaders of its allies, and manufactured fake news globally to justify its invasion of Iraq that caused more than half a million innocent civilian deaths. Is this the behavior of a country that defends freedom and human rights?

It therefore comes as no wonder that its secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has publicly and proudly smirked that “we lied, we cheated, we stole.” The US has long ago evacuated its moral high ground. Which is why we are so disappointed with the latest words coming out of the mouth of Hong Kong’s former governor, Chris Patten, who is no stranger to being on the receiving end of US bullying.

Among the things Patten demanded from the world community is for the G-7 to put Hong Kong on the agenda of its upcoming summit. Has he forgotten that the UN Charter stipulates noninterference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states? Can you imagine Patten demanding ASEAN put on its agenda American police brutality against its black citizens? 

Fifteen years ago, it was a diff erent Patten who spoke out against American bullying around the world. This is what he wrote in his book Not Quite the Diplomat: “Britain went to (the Iraq) war because America chose to go to war. … He (then-prime minister Tony Blair) told  Mr Bush (the then-US president) that, ‘whither thou goest, I will go’ … He subordinated Britain’s national interest to American interests and raised serious questions about the exercise of Britain’s de facto and de jure sovereignty.”

For almost a year, Hong Kong has been turned upside down by violent protests, with innocent victims viciously bricked and burned. And for nine months, the central government in Beijing has stood back patiently, waiting for the storm to blow itself out, with rule of law the casualty. Which Western democracy would have tolerated this prolonged destructive protests and wave after wave of wanton violence and vandalism?

He continued, “Where substance is important to America, the most that Britain can usually do is to affect the process. In return for the prospect of influence we provide a sign to the world that America is not unilateralist. Britain is a multinational emblem to pin in America’s lapel.”

Today’s Britain is no longer a US lapel pin. The voice of sanity and self-dignity came not from Patten but from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had the backbone to stand up to the US president and refused to meekly follow the US in lockstep in policy toward Huawei over 5G technology. When US President Donald Trump slammed down his phone on Johnson, the latter won admiration for his courage against a bully, reminding the world that Britain pursues its own independent foreign policy. I wish we could say the same thing about Mr Patten.

Last week, Patten penned a lengthy piece titled “The Lonesome Death of Hong Kong”. It is not so much an analysis as a curse. What Patten did not say was what he would have done if London were faced with nearly a year of violence and vandalism on its streets. Would he stand idly by when the Union Jack is burned or the playing of God Save the Queen is booed at sporting events? Would he have tolerated waving foreign flags by violent protesters? It is time we applied Immanuel Kant’s immortal moral tenet of “universalizability”, or the basic principle of reversibility.

For almost a year, Hong Kong has been turned upside down by violent protests, with innocent victims viciously bricked and burned. And for nine months, the central government in Beijing has stood back patiently, waiting for the storm to blow itself out, with rule of law the casualty. Which Western democracy would have tolerated this prolonged destructive protests and wave after wave of wanton violence and vandalism?

With bricks flying again and tear gas stinging again in the streets of Hong Kong, no clearheaded world leader should allow him- or herself to become a tool in inadvertently aiding and abetting the US in using Hong Kong as a battleground to suppress China, which seeks no more than peace and prosperity for the people.

Amid Patten’s ranting and cursing, a pleasant surprise comes from none other than a former top US military official, Admiral William Owens. In his newly published book China-US 2039: The Endgame?, the former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff envisions a beautiful new world as the US and China go on a constructive path: Working together to reduce carbon emissions; engaging in long-lasting collaboration in research, particularly medicine; signing a free-trade agreement; and with Taiwan accepting the offer to initiate discussions on reunification under the rubric of “one China”. If the two should choose a path of confrontation, he envisages the collapse of both governments after a ravaging military conflict in the South China Sea.

The world is at a crossroads. It is up to global opinion leaders to help enlighten world opinion toward a better world for all. Before you berate Beijing for enacting the much-needed national security law, think of Kant, if not of Confucius.

The author is an associate vice-president of Hong Kong Baptist University and a former professor of practice at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Kong’s School of Journalism and Communication.

The views expressed are his own and are unrelated to any institutions with which he is affiliated. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

 


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