Dear Ms Reiss-Andersen,
As a concerned citizen of Hong Kong, I feel obliged to alert you to an attempt to deceive the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the aim of which is to have the Nobel Peace Prize (NPP) awarded to an unworthy nominee. Although the Nobel Committee will already have tried and tested mechanisms in place for weeding out unmeritorious nominations, I imagine that the input of local observers can often be of assistance.
On January 31, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) nominated “the pro-democracy movement of Hong Kong to receive the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of peaceful efforts to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy, human rights and the rule of law”. The customary practice, of course, is for neither the names of nominators nor their nominees to be publicly disclosed, and the CECC’s decision to publicize its letter to you is a sure sign of politics at play. The CECC, of course, has made several other spurious nominations in recent times, which it also publicized, and it has, once again, supplied you with deeply flawed information about its nominee.
The CECC was established in 2001, following the normalization of trade relations between the US and China, and purports to monitor human rights and rule of law issues in China. In recent times, however, as China’s global role has expanded, threatening US dominance, it has become increasingly hostile, seeking every opportunity to promote confrontation. Indeed, its naked animosity towards the Chinese authorities, the Hong Kong government and its police force has become notorious, while its whitewashing of the excesses of the protest movement has provoked disgust in Hong Kong.
The co-chairs of the CECC are Senator Marco Rubio, and Representative James P McGovern, each of whom has signed the nomination letter. Rubio himself would have come to your attention in 2018, when he nominated three convicted criminals, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang, for the NPP. He told the Prize Committee that they deserved it for their “peaceful efforts to bring political reform and protect the freedoms granted to Hong Kong”. What, however, he did not disclose was that, far from being “peaceful”, they had recently been convicted of a violent invasion of a restricted area at government premises, which left 10 security guards injured, with one having to take 39 days sick leave.
Although the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong subsequently described their offense as “a large-scale unlawful assembly involving violence”, this was withheld from you and your colleagues. But even though the Nobel Committee rumbled what was going on, the episode will have provided you with an insight into Rubio’s modus operandi. Indeed, he thereafter pioneered legislation in the US Congress which resulted in the revocation of Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US, and the sanctioning of Chinese mainland and Hong Kong officials. His anti-China campaigning is multi-faceted, and he now hopes to turn the NPP into a US propaganda tool.
As for McGovern, his mindset was exposed in 2019. After violent protesters unleashed a wave of violence in Hong Kong, trashing its parliament, smashing public buildings, destroying private businesses, torching MTR stations, petrol-bombing police officers, terrorizing people with different views, torturing mainland visitors, and even threatening judges, his response was to blame the police force for trying to restore law and order and defend the city. On September 15 2019, for example, he accused the force of a violent crackdown on “peaceful protesters”, and of using their crowd control equipment for “immoral and unjust purposes”, a brazen untruth.
In fact, the police force, notwithstanding sustained attacks on its officers and police stations by rioters over many months, exercised great restraint, and kept casualties to a minimum. This, of course, was in stark contrast to the multiple deaths inflicted last year by its US counterparts, not only on rioters but also upon innocent civilians, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. However, McGovern gave them no credit, and chose instead to besmirch this highly professional body of men and women. Although, moreover, he was quick to call on the government to protect freedom of assembly, he had rather less to say about the mobs who caused the trouble in the first place, even though their depredations would have been intolerable had they occurred in the US.
It came, therefore, as no surprise that, on their watch, the CECC should have proposed the Protect Hong Kong Act, which banned US companies from exporting tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong. Thus, at the very time when the police force was valiantly trying to defend Hong Kong and its people from crazed rioters, all that Rubio and McGovern could think about was trying to make their task even more difficult. Quite clearly, they demonstrated not only animus towards Hong Kong, but also appalling judgment, effectively giving the green light to mob rule. We in Hong Kong have long since seen through these two rascals, and the Prize Committee must also remain on the alert over their attempt to politicize its processes, particularly as the danger continues.
Indeed, after the failure of its nomination in 2018, the CECC tried its luck again in 2020. On January 31 last year, Rubio and Smith wrote to you, urging that the entire protest movement be awarded the NPP, including the three criminals whose earlier nomination hit the rocks. How they could possibly have thought that they could succeed second time round, when the Prize Committee already had their measure, is hard to fathom. It could, of course, be that the CECC imagined that, if it could build up enough political pressure, the Prize Committee would yield, but, if so, it gravely underestimated its integrity.
As you may recall, the CECC’s letter last year was, frankly, an embarrassment, and little more than a partisan rant, designed to place the Hong Kong authorities in the worst possible light and glorify the violence of the protest movement. Indeed, it even described as “reasonable” the various demands of the protesters, which included the dropping of criminal charges against “all arrested protesters”, whether arson, bomb making, criminal damage, wounding or homicide. It was clear, therefore, that the CECC was simply a mouthpiece for the protest movement, and it had no qualms over abusing the NPP. Once again, however, the Prize Committee, saw through it, and awarded the NPP to the World Food Programme, a widely applauded decision.
With bare-faced effrontery, the CECC is now trying, for the third time, to pull the wool over your eyes, presumably hoping the Prize Committee will let its guard down, and it has trotted out the same old fallacies. Whereas it claims, for example, that the 2019 protests arose because the government proposed to extradite people to Chinese mainland, what was actually contemplated was a mechanism by which, in an appropriate case, and subject to judicial oversight, criminal fugitives could be returned to any of the 177 jurisdictions with which Hong Kong had no fugitive surrender agreements. Its intent, therefore, was to strengthen criminal justice internationally, and the CECC’s obsession with Chinese mainland simply highlights its crude Sinophobia.
As in 2020, Rubio and McGovern wax lyrical about the “peaceful efforts” of the protesters, without telling you, for example, that the damage they caused to our railway system, the MTR, came to HK$1.6 billion ($206 million), while the destruction at the Polytechnic University, which, during their occupation, they turned into a bomb factory, amounted to HK$700 million. Whereas their trashing of our parliament caused damage of HK$50 million, their wanton destruction of the city’s traffic lights cost HK$40 million to rectify, and endangered public safety. Indeed, the mainland visitors who they tortured at the airport, the father of two who they set on fire for arguing with them, and the family of the street cleaner who they killed after he took their photograph, will be astonished to learn that the CECC considers the protesters’ conduct to have been in any way “peaceful”.
In fact, as everybody who lived through that period can testify, the protest movement adopted violence as a key part of its strategy from the outset. It sought to bring Hong Kong to its knees, thereby ending the “one country, two systems” paradigm, the basis of Hong Kong’s success. They imagined that if they could break the city’s defenses and cripple its government, this would weaken China as a whole and assist its geopolitical rivals. Throughout the months of violence, the CECC provided the protest movement with every encouragement, knowing that if it succeeded this would further the ends of US foreign policy, and that support continues.
However, those who hoped to destroy Hong Kong failed, largely because of the bravery of the police force, and, with the enactment of the National Security Law, peace and stability have now returned to the city, along with decency. Although, in their letter, Rubio and McGovern would have you believe that the Chinese authorities enacted the National Security Law for Hong Kong in 2020 in response to “public opposition and protests”, they have not explained how the law was necessary to combat the people who were using terror-type tactics to destroy the city, and who tried to subvert its constitutional arrangements. Whereas they claim that the new law violates “the declaration of human rights” and undermines the “presumption of innocence”, they have concealed from you that it actually incorporates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a guiding principle (Art.4), and also stipulates that a person “is presumed innocent until convicted by a judicial body” (Art.5). The new law, therefore, guarantees the fundamental rights of criminal suspects, and the CECC must not be allowed to trick you like this.
I hope you find this information useful, and if I can assist further please let me know. But before concluding, allow me to say a little more about our police force, which has been the real hero. If, during the social disorder in 2019-20, the force had not acted with such courage, restraint and professionalism, the consequences would have been dire, with our way of life destroyed. Had the force buckled, Beijing would have had no choice but to intervene militarily, and the “one country, two systems” principle could not have survived. Its officers, often young and inexperienced, rose to their daunting challenge with exemplary professionalism, by controlling the rioters, protecting life and limb, safeguarding the courts, public facilities and universities, and defending private businesses and restaurants. The force returned peace to our streets and stability to our lives, and restored our hopes for the future.
If, therefore, anybody from Hong Kong is deserving of the NPP, it can only be the police force, which saved our city from those who wished it ill.
I Grenville Cross
Senior Counsel and Professor of Law
February 7, 2021
To: The Hon Berit Reiss-Andersen,
Chair, The Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Hebrik Ibsen Gate 51, No-0255,
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS