US politicians and government officials must be feeling smug and flattered seeing TV footage of Hong Kong people waving the Stars and Stripes in public protest processions, assuming most residents of Hong Kong must be great admirers of the United States. But the reality is actually the opposite. If only they knew a simple fact that the reason these flag-wavers captured the electronic media’s attention is precisely that they are a rarity! The truth is most Hong Kong people abhor the interventionist foreign policy of the US, and how it can be corrupted by a strong gun lobby to ruin the peace of their own country. It really is the height of hypocrisy and arrogance for a country that cannot even protect its own citizens and schoolchildren from mass shooters to tell other countries how to run their affairs!
In fact, the tragic and bloody consequences of US foreign interventionism are scattered all over the world. Its destructive track record can be traced all the way back to Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and many other countries where the US tried to “democratize”, but caused thousands of deaths instead. That’s why many Hong Kong people actually view US leaders as merchants of death. Hong Kong people are not stupid. They have long seen through US sanctimony. Its most common M.O. was to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of protecting human rights, and promoting democracy. But its real objective was to expand its nefarious influence — often through proxies and dirty tricks if necessary. Meanwhile, White House’s moronic and erratic antics on the world stage, always with self-promotion as its theme, only elicits ridicule and contempt among Hong Kong people instead of admiration. While the US might well have been “the promised land” in the past, a more accurate reading of the present-day US is reflected in the increasing number of mainland Chinese students who return to China after their studies instead of staying to pursue their careers in America.
In terms of freedom, Hong Kong is ranked fourth in the world, compared with 17th for the US. No one in Hong Kong can genuinely claim that they have no freedom of speech
So when the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China invited “star” young activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung to give testimony about the turmoil that for three months has rocked the usually peaceful city of Hong Kong, most Hong Kong citizens just laughed it off, knowing he would just probably read out the speech prepared by his political mentors to badmouth Hong Kong. The commission welcomes him, knowing he is happy to be their puppet to support their Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The reality is that if the commission is genuinely interested in knowing about the true state of affairs in Hong Kong, it should have extended its invitation to someone from the largest political party — the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong — or an independent academic or respected current affairs commentator. But that is not likely to happen because the commission members want to entertain testimonies that dovetail with their preconceptions that are biased against both China and its Hong Kong SAR.
Wong’s testimony is replete with cliches and unfounded allegations about police brutality, human rights violations, the government’s alleged aversion to democratic development, and dark plots by both the central and Hong Kong governments to suppress Hong Kong citizens. If the commission hearing is supposed to be evidence-based, they should have demanded Wong produce supporting evidence, but none was forthcoming.
Actually, it’s easy to counter Wong’s tale of doom and gloom because such information is in the public domain. In terms of freedom, Hong Kong is ranked fourth in the world, compared with 17th for the US. No one in Hong Kong can genuinely claim that they have no freedom of speech.
In terms of human rights, it is fully protected by the Basic Law and existing statutes. It has many respected human rights organizations to handle any alleged breaches, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Privacy Commission, the Independent Police Complaints Council, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Audit Commission -- all very effective watchdogs with excellent track records on human rights protection. And the courts are always ready to address any grievances and unfairness. The US, on the other hand, is notorious for racial discrimination, mistreatment of refugees, and a court system and many police officers clearly biased against colored people.
In terms of democracy, the commission should note that the SAR currently enjoys a much higher degree of democracy unheard-of under British colonial administration. All governors were appointed by the British sovereign with no input from Hong Kong people. Why was there no complaint from the US government and Congress at that time? Now the chief executive is elected from a widely represented electoral college of 1,200 people. It should be noted that the proposed electoral reform in 2014 of “one person, one vote” for the election of the chief executive had the support of the then-US consulate general, who urged the opposition parties to accept the package. But his appeal was ignored. The commission could have called that consul general if it wanted to know the true state of democracy in Hong Kong.
As for Wong’s allegations of “police brutality” in the handling of the riots, the commission should view the extensive news video clips showing the rioters’ vicious assaults against police officers with all manners of weapons, including gasoline bombs and bricks and metal balls shot from catapults. As for expert opinion, they can call on the FBI attache in Hong Kong to testify. The attache has a long history of successful collaboration with Hong Kong police, the ICAC and Hong Kong Customs in tackling transnational crimes such as drug smuggling, human trafficking, and corruption. During my time in the ICAC, they had time and again expressed their appreciation for the professional assistance rendered to them. He should be able to testify on the professionalism, discipline and integrity of Hong Kong police and rebut any allegations of police brutality.
Wong strongly urged the commission to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Clearly the true intention of the act is to leverage human rights and democracy issues in Washington’s relations with Beijing and Hong Kong. If passed, the act could become a sword of Damocles hanging over Hong Kong. It could put the city in a disadvantageous position in regard to bilateral issues. Therefore, whether intentionally, or out of ignorance, Wong’s support for the act must be opposed by all without reservation — regardless of whether he is a fool or a traitor!
Having said that, the US should realize the dire consequences that will ensue if it imposes trade sanctions on Hong Kong through this proposed act. America is enjoying a huge trade surplus with Hong Kong, hence if the SAR retaliates, they will be the loser. The iPhone will become too expensive and we will switch to Huawei. US fashion shops, which are not popular anyway, will close down en masse. Citibank and Bank of America will have a bank run as people may consider their deposits there unsafe and can be frozen any time! That will be the scenario if this act is passed. In regard to China’s stance on the current trade dispute with the US, “We don’t want to fight, but we are not afraid to do so if we have to.”
The author is the first local director of operations, Independent Commission Against Corruption, the first local deputy commissioner of ICAC, an honorary fellow and adjunct professor of HKU Space and an adviser with Our Hong Kong Foundation.
HONG KONG NEWS