Three years ago, I visited the Old Supreme Court Building in Hong Kong, also known as the Court of Final Appeal, together with my friend, an Afghan-British lawyer, who was on a personal mission of “rediscovering Asia”.
Coming from a prominent, highly educated family in Afghanistan, my friend was extremely well aware that both the United States and the United Kingdom thoroughly destroyed her country during the recent occupation. In fact, under the NATO boots, Afghanistan became the poorest country in Asia, with the lowest life expectancy.
But after the long journey through Asia, somehow, she became nostalgically attached to Hong Kong. It looked familiar. As she studied and practiced law in the UK, the Court of Final Appeal Building looked familiar and reassuring to her.
As it happened to be a working day, she found people to talk to, and made conversation with the clerks. Immediately, they all managed to find a common language. Of different races and different backgrounds, they were clearly “on the same page”, united by the British way of thinking, doing things as well as analyzing and judging the world. “Britishness” was uniting them. Both my friend and the employees inside the old courthouse in Hong Kong were from the places that used to be or still were brutally occupied, ransacked, and tortured by the Western powers in general and by the UK in particular. But common experience and shared “cultural elements” made them understand each other, and able to communicate flawlessly.
I want to shake them (young rioters), shout at them to stop. I want to share with them all that I learned in some 160 countries of the world that I have covered. At times, I am tremendously outraged by their behavior. But I also know that they are not only some ninja-style vandals — they are also the victims of the circumstances, particularly of Western brainwashing
In 2019 and 2020, I have been covering “events” in the HKSAR, in-depth, and passionately. It is because what has been taking place there is extremely important and symbolic, to the world and to me, too, personally. To some extent, young people conditioned by Western propaganda were reminding me of my own childhood and youth, when I was growing up in Eastern Europe. We were also conditioned by Western propaganda. And we, too, were betrayed.
In Hong Kong, the ideological combat has been that of the epic proportions. The battle has been over the most populous country on Earth — China. And not only China the country, but also its system — political, economic, and social — which I have been studying for decades, and which I greatly admire. On many occasions, I wrote, passionately, what I believe: If socialism with Chinese characteristics were to be destroyed, our human race could lose all hopes for surviving, or at least for a better future.
Understanding “where they are coming from”, comprehending what had been done to them, I grasp how the young rioters think and feel. I want to shake them, shout at them to stop. I want to share with them all that I learned in some 160 countries of the world that I have covered. At times, I am tremendously outraged by their behavior. But I also know that they are not only some ninja-style vandals — they are also the victims of the circumstances, particularly of Western brainwashing.
Same as my Afghan friend, same as those clerks working in a courthouse in Hong Kong, rioters are part of that “common sphere” of the British influence.
If you go to an average English pub, not in central London, but a suburb, or in a provincial city, you will quickly realize that even the British citizens themselves are “victims” of their own British propaganda. In an English pub, most of the people are trusting the official line of their government and the mass media. At least when it comes to foreign affairs, and their empire’s history.
Now (or at least before the COVID-19 travel restrictions), British tourists, as well as British journalists, were coming to Hong Kong, bringing their ignorance with them. They met their Hong Kong counterparts, people who are often educated, or should we say, conditioned, on the same outdated, racist (against themselves) British curriculum. And they all gathered, they talked and exchanged “ideas”, which were based on the same roots. Those roots did not grow spontaneously; they were planted and groomed by the British imperialist regime in order to justify, to both the British citizens and to the colonized nations, all those horrors, injustices, and crimes committed in virtually all corners of the world.
Victims and victimizers talk. They understand each other. They even sympathize with each other. That is how the system was designed. No serious issues are addressed. While the UK is, once again, involved in the project of containing China, this is never pronounced.
As long as the mutual ignorance is upheld, there is no “danger” that the young rioters and their foreign backers would ever change the course of their actions.
But are foreigners who are creating chaos in Hong Kong really so “naive”? Are they truly so ignorant about the evilness that they are spreading?
Yes, and no. In a way, their “ignorance” resembles a religious indoctrination. In fact, it is almost a fundamentalist belief: in the superiority of the Western culture, and in the preeminence of the Western political system.
Many in Hong Kong adopted this frame of mind. Or, to use religious vocabulary: They were converted.
All this, while the Chinese mainland, one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, is observing, with shock, how many people in the HKSAR are jerking their bodies and souls in some insane ritual dances choreographed by the former colonizers.
All this may soon end, now that the statues of former slave-owners and conquerors are being thrown into the rivers all over the US and UK.
With the anti-racist uprisings in both the US and Europe, new winds are blowing, and soon they may reach Asia.
Maybe these events could finally awaken most of the Hong Kong youth.
Then, perhaps, they will understand that they have been fooled, that they are fighting for the system and culture which even many Westerners do not desire anymore.
And maybe, just maybe, the mutual ignorance could end. And with them, the riots. And unnecessary pain.
If this would happen, if more and more British citizens will manage to wake up from slumber, young English rebels could come and teach young Hong Kong rioters about the crimes that the British Empire committed in China. It would be, paradoxically, the same story that Beijing was telling them for decades.
This way, mutual ignorance could be converted into mutual awakening.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. He is the author of 20 books including “China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, and “China and Ecological Civilization".
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.