Published: 19:44, April 19, 2024 | Updated: 17:16, April 22, 2024
‘Cognitive war’ against Hong Kong doomed
By Andrew Fung

“Hong Kong’s prosperity can’t be talked down by a few articles or some noises; Hong Kong’s development can’t be hindered by a few small obstacles. Let those who can’t stand to see Hong Kong succeed lament. Hong Kong is destined for new glory.”

These inspiring remarks made by Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, at the opening ceremony of National Security Education Day on April 15, have no doubt greatly boosted Hong Kong’s residents’ morale as well as confidence in the city’s future.

First, Western media are launching a full-scale “cognitive war”, constantly attacking Hong Kong by exploiting the economic difficulties it faces. Critics who fled overseas are also cooperating vigorously to smear Hong Kong. This is a way for them to rationalize their decision to emigrate to other countries. If one calmly thinks about it, twisted logic becomes apparent. Which major global financial center sacrifices the national security of their own country in exchange for prosperity? New York doesn’t, London doesn’t, and neither does Singapore. As Xia stated, “Today’s Hong Kong is protected by national security laws, fully implementing the principle of ‘patriots administerning Hong Kong’, bidding farewell to the turbulent and unstable situation, finally ushering in the best period for fully fostering the economy and seeking development. … National security ensures Hong Kong’s stability; national security safeguards the safety of the people.” Without stability, where does prosperity come from?

The second striking aspect of Xia’s speech is that integration into the country is for better integration into the international community; the two are not mutually exclusive. Xia’s exact words were, “Hong Kong’s past achievements are not the result of isolation but rather a path to prosperity in the context of a strong country and national rejuvenation. Integrating into the country is for better integration into the world, embracing the globe, highlighting Hong Kong’s unique advantages and strengths.”

Overseas critics who long for Hong Kong’s past days of wavering between the East and the West and acting as compradors are longing for the impossible under the complex and ever-changing situation of great power competition today. Hong Kong can no longer take the old road it once took. However, this does not mean that Hong Kong cannot continue to embrace the world and connect with the international community. This is obvious, given these two factors:

1) The Chinese mainland continues to pursue reform and opening-up, and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as the most internationalized city in the country and the only region that practices the common law, naturally has a significant role to play in the process and benefits from it.

2) The West, primarily the United States, cannot isolate our country entirely and render Hong Kong useless. The recent visits to China of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz prove that while the West may criticize China for their own national interests, they still want to do business with China and eye its huge market. Therefore, Hong Kong can continue to play the role of “superconnector” between the Chinese mainland and the international community. Hong Kong should also actively seize opportunities arising from Belt and Road Initiatives partner countries, ASEAN countries, the Middle East, Africa and South American countries. G7 countries do not represent the entire international community; the world is many times the size of the G7.

This reminds me of what Xia said about “actively recognizing change, adapting to it, and seeking change. Use new ways of thinking, new methods, and new paths to solve the problems we face.”

Hong Kong should not rest on its laurels. It should proactively meet the needs of the country in promoting the development of new productive forces, vigorously attract top-notch innovative talent from around the world, vigorously develop financial technology, green finance, and the digital economy, construct a regional intellectual property trade center, and build a high-value-added maritime service industry. It should consolidate and enhance its advantages in traditional industries, promote high-quality development, and build new competitive advantages.

Xia’s speech has clarified many doubts for Hong Kong residents, helping them to see through the fog of the Western media’s “cognitive war”, face up to the difficulties the city faces, and respond calmly and confidently.

Xia’s remarks reflect the central government’s efforts to clarify its stance on Hong Kong and indicate its expectations for various sectors in Hong Kong. In his speech, Xia mentioned Hong Kong’s “Lion Rock Spirit”, which has helped the city to overcome all the challenges it has encountered in the past. The city will undoubtedly be able to tackle future challenges by leveraging the “Lion Rock Spirit”.

The author is a former information coordinator of the HKSAR government and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.