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Monday, July 27, 2020, 10:26
HK and its people should never be reduced to a game
By Andre Vltchek
Monday, July 27, 2020, 10:26 By Andre Vltchek

I just spent two weeks in the United States, investigating and analyzing the situation there.

I worked in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston and Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed during an arrest. COVID-19 was at my tail, as the states kept relaxing and tightening social-distancing rules. Demonstrations were shaking the country; protests against endemic racism and discrimination have been erupting in dozens of cities and towns.

In several of my reports, I described confusion and deep contradictions, which have been devastating this, still the most powerful, nation in the Western world.

While feverishly working in the US, I was often thinking about Hong Kong.

The deeper the crisis in the US, the more aggressive the Trump administration was attacking Beijing, often via Hong Kong, as if searching for a scapegoat. Unwilling to take responsibility, the administration needed a foreign “element” that it could accuse. It needed to blame someone else for so much dissatisfaction, indignation and confusion. And it was determined to produce an ideological enemy whom it could insult on a daily basis while escaping liability for scandalously inept management of the COVID-19 tragedy.

Elections in the US will take place, and they will pass. Soon after, American voters will forget about Hong Kong. They don’t care about it even now. In a few months, they will want to know nothing about it, except, as before, its cliche photographs and great food.

But the damage to Hong Kong and its people, who are being sacrificed for political gain in Washington, would not be easy to undo

Trump keeps pointing his finger to China. Embargoes and sanctions were imposed. Proposals were made to ban the Communist Party of China’s members from entering the US. Trade restriction walls have been growing higher and higher. US Navy ships were sailing, provoking China, right next to its shores. Millions of dollars were dispersed among the brutal rioters in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, just in order to provoke the authorities and spread chaos.

Hong Kong, particularly its new National Security Law, has been sitting on the front pages of US newspapers and magazines. The law, an absolutely normal, logical and necessary piece of legislation, was selected by Washington as its rallying cry, as a symbol in the latest China-bashing campaign.

Most Hong Kong residents, both those who support their government and those who are critical of it, are well aware of the obsession of President Donald Trump and his lieutenants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senator Marco Rubio and others, with the HKSAR. They clearly understand that some US politicians are behind the 2019-20 riots.

What they don’t know is that this fascination with Hong Kong comes exclusively from the top of the US establishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with ordinary citizens.

During my latest journey to the US, I interacted with many people, people who are residing in several states. I listened to them; to their grievances, hopes, and outrage. I was also interviewed in the city of Minneapolis. At the end of my visit, I concluded: Right now, the situation in the US is so bad, that the vast majority of its citizens are deeply preoccupied with their basic existential problems: how to keep their jobs, to survive, to repay mortgages and student loans, and pay medical bills.

They have near-zero interest in a faraway city, Hong Kong, which, anyway, enjoys the reputation of having a much higher quality of life than, for instance, New York, and which sits on the “freedom index” well above the US itself.

Ask those common American folks about Hong Kong, and if they know anything about it at all, it will be an abstract vision of a shiny skyline of a superrich Asian city, plus the Cantonese food. Even the very concept of SAR is only for the intellectuals, particularly for those who are interested in international politics, meaning just a tiny minority.

However, antagonizing foreign countries, as well as the United Nations, is always a cheap but very effective political “move” before the elections. Many US presidents used it in the past. Some even went to war or overthrew foreign governments, killing thousands of innocent people.

All this has nothing to do with principles or ethics. Do not search for logic, either.

Freedom, liberty, democracy — all these are abstract terms in today’s United States of America. At closer examination, most Americans are not free at all. They are scared and shackled financially but also through the toughest laws imaginable — much more than the citizens of many other countries.

Antagonizing and provoking China has nothing to do with “fight for democracy and freedom”. Most Americans have no idea about whether China is democratic. To comprehend Chinese democracy and socialism with Chinese characteristics would require at least some basic knowledge of Chinese culture and history. Such knowledge is lacking in the US, among the general public, and even at the top, among such people like Steve Bannon, a far-right populist, or Peter Navarro, a top Trump adviser, who writes about China, who is bashing China, but does not genuinely understand China.

In turn, deciding whether Hong Kong is free and democratic would at least require an understanding of the concept of SAR.

The recent events have clearly indicated how brutal, how undemocratic the US is.

The situation at home should be the main preoccupation of US citizens. And, frankly, it actually has been lately.

Hong Kong citizens should realize that their city has been converted into a political football by both Washington and London. But a big city, an important territory, and especially the lives of its citizens, should never be reduced to a game.

Elections in the US will take place, and they will pass. Soon after, American voters will forget about Hong Kong. They don’t care about it even now. In a few months, they will want to know nothing about it, except, as before, its cliche photographs and great food.

But the damage to Hong Kong and its people, who are being sacrificed for political gain in Washington, would not be easy to undo.

It is now, and it will be then: Beijing is the one which has been genuinely concerned about, and which will always be ready to defend its citizens.

The author is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


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