PATRICK LAWRENCE: US, China & Hong Kong’s Betrayal

The territory’s likely loss of autonomy is a tragedy made worse because it could have been avoided.

Protesters march in heavy rain against the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill, August 18, 2019. (Studio Incendo, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

China’s announcement last Thursday that the National People’s Congress has placed new security legislation on the table that provides a legal basis for direct interventions in Hong Kong is a bold move by any measure, its consequences many. It is in all likelihood the beginning of the end of the territory’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” accord negotiated as China reassumed sovereignty over the former British colony in 1997. This is a tragedy, made worse because it could have been avoided.

But the implications of Beijing’s plans to assert its prerogative in Hong Kong do not stop there. Considered more broadly, this is a major, calculated strike against Washington’s obnoxious efforts to preserve its primacy at the other end of the Pacific even as its long postwar decades of unchallenged power in East Asia fade inexorably into history.

Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people were betrayed last week. But we should be careful to understand who has done the betraying.

Beijing could have managed the Hong Kong crisis with more humanity and subtlety after protests erupted last year in response to a proposed extradition law introduced by an ineffectual local administration. Given that the Sino–British declaration signed in 1984 raised questions of sovereignty — and there are none more sensitive in Beijing — the territory was bound to be a hot potato during the 50-year period it was designated a Special Administrative Region.

Hong Kong’s democracy movement was up and running even before Prince Charles lowered the Union Jack for the last time in July 1997. Its intent from the first was to defend Hong Kong’s political institutions and liberties against the mainland’s encroachments while expanding the democratic process to include a fully elected legislature. Having witnessed this at close range and reported on it from time to time, I see no grounds whatsoever to question the movement’s authenticity. It was an expression of a unique, independent Hong Kong identity that had taken root gradually during the decades following Mao’s revolution in 1949.

American Backing

Joshua Wong speaks at the United States Capitol in 2019. (House Foreign Affairs Committee, Wikimedia Commons)

But in the course of the past year’s increasingly heated demonstrations — it is not clear when — prominent figures in Hong Kong’s broad pro-democracy constituency began seeking American backing for their confrontation with the local government and, behind it, Beijing. Joshua Wong, who emerged as an influential voice following an earlier wave of protests known as the Umbrella Movement, made a much-remarked trip to Washington last autumn, during which he met with various  members of Congress — including Marco Rubio, the hyper-hawkish Florida senator with a pronounced taste for “regime change” operations.

Such contacts have turned out to be common, in Hong Kong and abroad. In the course of things it also emerged that various civil society groups in Hong Kong had been accepting millions of dollars in support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the notorious coup-cultivating appendage of the State Department that is funded primarily by Congress.

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There are three things to say about these connections.

One, it was monumentally unwise on the part of democracy advocates to seek U.S. involvement — and seek it so visibly. Anyone with an understanding of the NED’s pernicious purposes and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s incessant efforts to spark confrontations with China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other nations that remain beyond the perimeters of American empire could not miss the provocation implicit in these connections.

Two, accepting U.S. support was an insensitive, inept betrayal of the spirit of the Hong Kong democracy movement. It was never intended to turn the territory into some kind of neoliberal outpost on China’s border — a variant of the mess Washington has made in Ukraine. In another time, Hong Kong’s democrats would have found their natural allies in the Non–Aligned Movement.

Three, if Joshua Wong and his incautious comrades had set out to give Beijing ample cause to start short-circuiting the one country, two systems formula, they could not have made a more efficient job of it. It is a bitter thought, but Beijing —as touchy as they come about territorial integrity since the Opium Wars and the unequal treaties that followed — has sufficient reason to deem Hong Kong a national security question. It wasn’t always one, but it is one now. 

Egregious Treachery

Pro-democracy protesters waving U.S. and U.K. flags in Hong Kong, Nov. 28, 2019. (Studio Incendo, Flickr)

We come now to the most egregious of the treacheries inflicted on Hong Kong’s idealist democrats. In effect, the Trump administration, with Pompeo and other reckless boors in the lead, has inexcusably turned what amounts to a domestic conflict into an occasion to destabilize a nation it considers an adversary because it will not bend to America’s extravagant imperial ambitions.

We’ve seen this before, of course — most recently in Ukraine and Syria. There are always casualties on these kinds of occasions, and Washington is always indifferent to them. In Hong Kong’s case these are the about-to-be crushed aspirations of a people desiring nothing more than ordinary self-determination. As demonstrators returned to the streets  Sunday, one watched with admiration but little expectation or hope.

‘In another time, Hong Kong’s democrats would have found their natural allies in the Non–Aligned Movement.’

Washington has been cultivating the Hong Kong crisis for its own designs for many months. Last November President Trump signed a bill providing for sanctions to be imposed on any Chinese or Hong Kong official judged responsible for human rights abuses in the territory. The House sent the bill to the Senate with one dissenting vote, and the Senate passed it unanimously.

We were supposed to think this reflected the sentiments of the compassionate hearts one always finds in the administration and on Capitol Hill — you know, the morally sound people who think nothing of strangling the populations of Iran and Venezuela while prolonging the suffering in Syria by many years and many hundreds of thousands of casualties.

We are now treated to the virtuous pose once again. “Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community,” the State Department grandly declared Friday.

The will of Hong Kong people has nothing to do with what Washington is up to. Humane compassion and democratic principle have nothing to do with it. Subterfuge and aggression are the story here.

Wondering Why 

The New York Times published an exquisitely disingenuous piece last Friday, wherein a rewrite man in New York furrowed a worried brow wondering why Xi Jinping would authorize this step as the National People’s Congress (NPC) opened its annual two-day session in Beijing. Maybe it was because the administration in Hong Kong had fumbled before the onslaught of protesters last year. Maybe the Chinese president is taking advantage of the Covid–19 pandemic.

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A day later the Gray Lady had made up its mind: Xi is “working a crisis,” it declared in the page-one lead. What use Xi might find in the Covid–19 calamity as it relates to Hong Kong is beyond this columnist’s imagining, but there you have it. Xi, we’re invited to assume, thinks the world will somehow not notice the NPC’s new legislative agenda.

The truth is less lame and far more consequential. Ever since the Pentagon declared China a strategic adversary two years ago, Washington has sought to push Beijing ever further into a corner with a trade war, threatened sanctions, aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea, and lately shrill, ungrounded accusations of malpractice in managing the Covid­–19 outbreak. Pompeo threatened Friday to rescind Hong Kong’s status as a favored trading entity.

A few weeks ago in this space I warned that if Washington pushes Beijing too hard and too offensively it risks doing to China what Versailles did to Germany when it settled the peace in 1919. It is difficult to overstate the importance China attaches to the achievement of parity with the West. Westerners refuse to recognize this at their peril.

We may now be witnessing the front end of precisely the kind of response I earlier suggested. It is impossible to imagine that Beijing is other than fully aware of the consequences attaching to the legislation it just put on the table in terms of damaged confidence among Western corporations, bankers and investors. The beckoning conclusion is that it has just announced its indifference to such considerations.

The Chinese are not blind. They see as well as the rest of us that the West is gradually collapsing, its day done. Accustomed to thinking in terms of the longue durée, they know better than most that the future lies with the emergent non–West, of which it is a leader. There are already reports  that Beijing’s 14th Five–Year Plan, due to be published next March, will reflect a purposeful shift in China’s relations with the West, the U.S. in particular.

Many decades ago, the great Sukarno, Indonesia’s founding president, had his own confrontations with America (which eventually cultivated a coup that deposed him). “Go to hell with your foreign aid,” the Bung, as he was affectionately known, famously declared in a national radio address. It appears Xi has just said something of the same thing.  

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutistHis web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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34 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: US, China & Hong Kong’s Betrayal

  1. elmerfudzie
    May 30, 2020 at 12:28

    This is a Gordian knot for the USA. IF only our response were as simple as sending small arms to support insurrection. In retaliation the CCP would slaughter the protestors and then declare a permanent state of martial law for Hong Kong. There is one slim possibility, ask the Bolivian people, the miners themselves, to stage a protest by reducing Lithium production, in a peaceful gesture and reaction to Xi and his communist masters. Send a message to all transnational corporations that contractual agreements with any government for mining interests and or operations have a unwritten clause built into them. Profits and continued success will be contingent on their home governments behavior. By this I mean, corporate HQ and or wherever their corporate holdings are kept.

    Back in the old days of the OSS and the fledgling CIA, Allen Dulles sided with the concept of an international corporate “free-enterprise” philosophy that removed politics, politicians, diplomats and state sovereignty from the commerce equation this, usually in regards to commodity extraction.
    Well, now here’s our chance to reinvigorate true diplomacy. It begins with an open and formal letter of warning issued by those congresspersons who still really care about the underdog, the little guy, politicians who are not bought off. The open letter addressed to the CEO’s of various South American enterprises who supported the overthrow of Morales’ government. For example; Glencore, Jindal Steel and TriMetals Mining, declare something to the effect that the days of Dulles Diplomacy and business as usual will no longer be a reliable stratagem.

    This proposal fits nicely into the gradual rise of people everywhere vs a transnational lot who must somehow be persuaded, by couching it in the simplest of terms..if your nice and respectful an honest buck and plenty of them can be made. Business enterprises that continue to dismiss warnings from our finest intellectuals such as Arthur Kinoy and more recently, Sara Cunial, the Member of Parliament for Rome, will suffer needless public protest, cost overruns, wildcat strikes and property sabotage. The choice is yours (CEO’s) pick up the phone and give a call to former ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, ask for suggestions… and take them.

    As an ASIDE to the ongoing riots in Hong Kong, it’s important to review, compare and contrast present day predicaments under Xi’s authority with those events in the USA circa 1987. Take stock of our government reaction to black rioters back then, during a time when our fourth estate was still in working order. Re examine the old retrograde and clandestine Intel strategies rooted in the Dulles brothers policies by the Reagan regime, then maintained by Bush Sr. He in turn issued a FEMA memorandum July 5, of that year then published by the Miami Herald for all to see, the intent to suspend our constitution, to jeopardize liberty itself, by delegating to local commanders the authority to suspend our constitutional rights. Xi must have learned a thing or two from that Bush script!

  2. Posa
    May 28, 2020 at 11:21

    Long time admirer. Superb commentary— as always– from Patrick Lawrence.

    People forget that Beijing DID rescind the odious extradition law. So the protestors won a rare victory. They stupidly took this as a sign of weakness and opportunistic fools of the J. Wong ilk decided to double down their demands and followed up by burning down HK. Soon secession talk emerged. The US was invited in to help out.

    Not satisfied with a victory, they decided to play Beijing as fools and started pushing their buttons… what follows is predictable.

    I agree this is a turning point. The gloves are off. Beijing is preparing to sever economic ties to the US, which is now waging economic warfare against China’s technological advances (ie Huawei) … Europe will have to decide whether it too wants to turn its back on a 1.2 billion sized market. China can roll either way.
    They have a PLAN B (expand the domestic market and near abroad) … and leap ahead with a $1 T + R&D spree to finalize “Made in China 2025”

    China has gotten as much as they can from their ties to the US… they can gleefully watch Pox Americana sink beneath the waves in the rear-view mirror. But overplaying their hand — especially with oppression at home— will make this a pyrrhic victory.

  3. Daniel
    May 28, 2020 at 02:24

    Does the US and the wider West have anything to offer the world besides belligerent rhetoric and threats?

    The bottom line is that the West is beholden to a supremacist ideology and will only accept a world in which it is the Supreme Ruler. Other countries are allowed to exist as enfeebled colonies to be exploited for resources and labor or as strategic military outposts. Independent nations will absolutely not be tolerated.

    This is a recipe for endless war and conflict and it is already destroying the “free and democratic” West from within. It it an unsustainable state of affairs and nothing good can come of it.

    The Hong Kong “pro-democracy” protestors aren’t too bright if they are hitching their wagon to a dying imperial empire that can’t (or won’t) even take care of its own people and destroys any country or person that it perceives as a threat.

  4. Zhu
    May 28, 2020 at 00:57

    By now, everyone should know that the US “defends democracy”, that means it’s going to rape, rob, torture and murder a shïtload of people. A US nuclear first strike would probably wipe out Hong Kong, Uighurs, and Tibetans. (Even Trump wouldn’t try a conventional invasion.)

  5. William H Warrick MD
    May 27, 2020 at 12:20

    They can cry and cry all they want but China is enforcing the Law that the Hong Kong ruling body and the majority of the population wants enforced. This is payback for the Opium Wars and all the subjugation China has suffered for 200+ years. China is a 5,000 year old Civilization. America is a 243 year old Country that has a Murderous Empire that is collapsing from within just like Khrushchev predicted and that is following Ben Franklin’s prediction: “You have a Republic if you can keep it”. We haven’t kept it and it is over. China is going it’s own way and the Empire does not have a say in it.

  6. John Greengrass
    May 27, 2020 at 12:07

    Premise and comments appear a bit naive. At it’s core, it is simply big power politics/ battle for who will be (or continue to be) the hegemon. China is in an expansion mode, the USA is retrenching, but wishes to do so in a way that maintains its dominance. Hong Kong is merely a current theater of conflict. China is not “morally superior” or “inferior.” Although one could certainly argue they should, it is naive to believe that morals govern great power conflict. Rather power, soft or hard, is the instrument. To cast what is currently transpiring in Hong Kong as China morally right, USA wrong, or the reverse–is an exercise in futile idealism which is very much collateral to the reality of great power rivalry. Such moral comparisons are merely a tool to indoctrinate supporters and deflect detractors or a great power’s given exercise of power against a rival.

  7. Tedder
    May 27, 2020 at 09:20

    My understanding is that Americans, spearheaded by the NED, began to corrupt Hong Kong intellectuals, legal scholars, and youth even before 1997. They spent millions and millions of dollars in HK and in America promoting anti-China memes, so that an entire generation has grown up to be wary and fearful of the Mainland.
    What is telling is that the protests against the Extradition Treaty never mentioned any of the real problems faced by the vast majority of protestors, the income inequality and precarity of average HK existence. Instead, they essentially defended a murderer (a man who killed his new wife in Taiwan) and traitors fleeing from the Mainland with their stolen loot. American propaganda is very powerful!

  8. David F., N.A.
    May 26, 2020 at 21:31

    This all started when Nixon became president and there were 3 world superpowers: the US, Russia and China. This was when Nixon secretly sent Kissinger to China to sway the way they thought about the US. Then later, I think, when Poppy was the ambassador to China, was when the neocons hijacked the talks and got China to join the new unregulated global economy (I know, I know, I read somewhere “Poppy wasn’t a neocon”). And then, not long after that, the CIA gave Russia their “Vietnam war.” Which led to their economic collapsed (been neocon bitches ever since (yup, even Putin’s a puppet)).

    Also going on in the late ’70s and ’80s, US presidents started deregulating laws pertaining to the economy, capitalism, Wall Street, the media, etc. Many companies, like IBM, started going door-to-door persuading other US companies to save money by outsourcing. And now, after decades of deregulation, job losses, a few Wall Street manufactured bubbles and recessions, several declared and undeclared wars, and several more-money-for-the-rich bailouts, the backbone of the US economy has been heavily stressed.

    So, why for the past several decades have the multinational corporations been building up China’s economy while dismantling the US’s, and then, like flipping a switch, they start handing out cookies in Hong Kong and siccing the US’s CIA media on China? Has this been another CIA ploy where a leader and his/her country is used and then throw away (like Saddam shaking Rumsfeld’s hand). If this is the case, which superpower are the multinationals going to throw away?

    The multinational corporations’ tools are definitely up to something, but what? Time will tell. (We’ve all been influenced/tricked by their CIA at one time or another.)

    • Tedder
      May 27, 2020 at 09:39

      A slightly different narrative starts with financial capitalism’s decision to seek cheap manufacturing labor abroad. China was amenable but with one provision, sharing of the technology. I imagine that the Chinese leadership knew they were opening China to vast exploitation of the workforce, but took the deal for the sake of industrial and technological development. At this point, the Chinese probably have no further need of the ‘deal’ and can almost satisfy their production locally and domestically. We shall see.

  9. Sam F
    May 26, 2020 at 20:56

    Mr. Lawrence may be correct that the overall HK “democracy movement” expresses an “independent Hong Kong identity” wishing to prevent encroachments and implement a “fully elected legislature.”
    But others note that the movement is a rather small minority in HK polls, so they cannot really be seeking democracy.

    His argument that Wong betrayed the HK democracy movement by meeting with Rubio in 2019 and seeking US aid to become another Ukraine on the border of China, creating security fears to force them to “start short-circuiting the one country, two systems formula” suggests that Wong sought personal power from the US as another Guiado to attack socialism under the false flag of Democracy™ for the benefit of oligarchy, at arbitrary expense to others.

    If Wong were sincere, he would see that making HK a frontline US military base would not advance democracy.
    Rubio certainly knows that this is the same as the US putting ICBMs in Turkey causing the Cuba Missile Crisis.
    Rubio certainly knows that the US is not a democracy, and their deal suggests that neither wish to advance democracy. Likely they seek personal political gains by exploiting US “efforts to preserve its primacy” as this fades “into history.”

  10. jaycee
    May 26, 2020 at 20:55

    Leaders of the secessionist wing of Hong Kong’s (misnamed) “pro-democracy” movement (actually the pan-democratic political faction), were several times in the US meeting with senior politicians (Pence, Pompeo) last spring (March/May 2019). The goal of successful passage of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was discussed at that time, and random protesters on the streets of Hong Kong were mentioning the Act to reporters in June 2019, ahead of events later claimed as spurring protest escalations. The passage of that legislation, in obvious coordination with the protest movement, was apparently the motivation for the introduction of the security acts being appended to the Basic Law.

  11. May 26, 2020 at 19:40

    The protests in Hong Kong are a counterrevolutionary movement pure and simple, and serve as an ideal ‘democratic’ platform for the escalation of US imperialism’s longterm efforts at counterrevolution against the PRC. Hong Kong has been a dagger pointed at the throat of China since 1997, and the Hong Kong protests are straight out of the CIA’s ‘colour revolution’ playbook. Yet China has been in the US’s crosshairs to restore capitalism and untrammelled imperialist exploitation since the 1949 revolution — not just the last few (two!) years as the author disingenuously seeks to imply when reporting the Pentagon’s more recent tactical shifts.

    No mention is made of the ‘pivot to Asia’, let alone even a whisper of its chief perpetrator, Obama; nor of the 400 US military bases forming a vast nuclear noose around China. It’s not just Trump or Pompeo and the other ‘reckless boors’, and it’s not simply ‘destabilisation’ — the US strategy for counterrevolution has been in place for decades, it’s bipartisan, and Hong Kong is but one facet of it.

    ‘Surprisingly’, there’s also no mention of the Ukrainian fascists (called ‘Gonor’) flocking to Hong Kong, as outlined by Ben Norton at the GrayZone; let alone the acts of pure barbarism perpetrated by our ‘idealist democrats’, including setting people on fire. Pyromania seems to be a bit of a CIA fetish in its ‘colour revolution’ playbooks (cf. recent efforts in Venezuela and Nicaragua); and it’s lucky the CIA fear the Hong Kong authorities enough to not try implementing that other important part of its playbook, rooftop snipers.

    Our ‘idealist democrats’ also attacked the offices of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, primarily for their role in the 1967 protests against the British. Such are their ‘independence for Hong Kong’ credentials — it’s not just waving the US scar mangled banner or the Butcher’s Apron to curry favour with their patrons. This is part of a strategy called ‘Marginal Violence Theory’, where the authorities are provoked into overreaction and repression by acts of violence and vandalism in order to engender international support. The Hong Kong authorities have been way too lenient, no doubt aware of this strategy (unlike the author).

    The links between Joshua Wong, Andy Chan, Martin Lee, Edward Leung, media tycoon Jimmy Lai (the Rupert Murdoch of East Asia, also not mentioned by the author) and all the rest of the ‘idealist democrats’ go back further than the present protests, and their origins aren’t ‘unknown’ at all. Dan Cohen at the GrayZone did a good job in detailing some of these myriad cosy connections between the protest leaders, various Hong Kong tycoons and the numerous organs of so-called ‘soft power’ imperialism, including the NED. For instance, Jimmy Lai bankrolled the 2014 Occupy Central/Umbrella movement; the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, a key anti-extradition law coalition member has received NED funding of >$2 million since 1995; NED subsidiary the National Democratic Institute has also recently funded numerous other Hong Kong ‘civil society’ groups. One notable one was ‘The Solidarity Centre’, to ‘promote worker rights and democracy’. Some of this money may well have contributed to the vandalising of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions offices, who definitely haven’t received such munificence.

    It’s also interesting that all the political outfits that fete Joshua Wong, Jimmy Lai, et al. are either rightwing ‘think’ tanks and interest groups or cut outs for the US empire. But the author’s decrying that these links are so open does tend to give the game away.

    Let’s have no illusions: the Beijing Stalinists have been instrumental in reducing Hong Kong’s working population to penury and virtual Third World conditions by criminally allowing Hong Kong’s rapacious tycoons to run the territory as their fiefdom. Just a cursory look at the composition of the Hong Kong’s ruling assembly shows the extent of that. Hong Kong’s working class has been bled white by these parasites and justifiably would feel betrayed by Beijing.

    Consequently, many in Hong Kong, especially the young, perceive their prospects to be worse than those on the mainland. And for the most part they are. To them it’s not a particularly attractive ‘deal’ to endure both the bureaucratism of the Beijing Stalinists and the ‘delights’ of free market capitalism imposed by the Hong Kong tycoons. They’re in the worst of both worlds, the worst of ‘two systems’ bearing down on them simultaneously.

    Of course, the US is taking full advantage of this palpable suffering, and mouthpieces like the author attempt to give its horrible NED/CIA expression a veneer of legitimacy, by completely airbrushing its counterrevolutionary import, its overt racism, pro-imperialism, rampant vandalism and all the rest in the name of striving for ‘democracy’, ‘independence’, ‘autonomy’ by ‘democratic idealists’. In short, Hong Kong is part of China, always has been, and it needs to be brought under one system — but the Beijing Stalinists are way too accommodating to imperialism to ever think of carrying that out.

    In the end, the Beijing Stalinists need to be overthrown by a workers political revolution that establishes soviets to run the socialised planned economy along democratic lines. The inroads of capitalism in the PRC pose a deadly threat to its existence, and the tycoons on the mainland and in Hong Kong need to be expropriated before they acquire even more wealth and power. The whole world needs a globally integrated planned economy, established through social revolutions, and the PRC will form a key economic, industrial, logistic and technological component of that.

    • Michael Thomas
      May 29, 2020 at 17:24

      Mr. Morrrell’s historical reminders about the history of Hong Kong-Western (especially with the US) relations, since the Chinese Revolution of 1949, are spot on and represent important calls to remember the full context of this unfortunate story. I do feel that he is unduly harsh, though, in his assessment of Mr. Lawrence’s objectives and motivations: Mr. Morrell’s aspersions about these remind me of the unpleasant language typical of many sterile Left debates from the 1950s and ’60s.

      As a newcomer to this web site I am impressed by the general level of sophistication of the commenters.

  12. rosemerry
    May 26, 2020 at 16:28

    Thanks to everyone for this article and comments. “Democracy protesters” shown in the photograph here were not pictured during their violence. The recent Reuters award for the biased selection of such photos tells us a lot about “free press ” in the West.

  13. Jim
    May 26, 2020 at 16:09

    Spot on. Thank you. Just wish more people would get this. Lord knows, there’s ample proof for all to see.

  14. Craig Mouldey
    May 26, 2020 at 16:07

    From the reading I’ve done from other international journalists, the Chinese government is very sensitive to the wishes and needs of their people. This chaos in Hong Kong is entirely a Western-backed effort to destabilize China. The real violence has been committed by the rioters, how many of whom are paid rioters I don’t know. But some of them are.
    We in the west are under the illusion that we have such great freedom and the leaders care about the people. They don’t! And they are building the police state around us without our even noticing it. We will understand our slavery soon.

  15. May 26, 2020 at 14:23

    HK has gained autonomy with this new law. The only powers it was being coerced by was the US and UK. The view that Beijing is somehow a threat to its freedoms is a harebrained conspiracy theory that is spread by the US government. If Beijing had wanted HK to be under its heel, it would do so. Instead HK has consistently been ranked in the top three in the world for civil and economic freedoms, far higher than the US or UK by Western neoloberal think-tanks. Western style “freedoms” is clearly not the issue. The issue is it’s a tool to be used against China.

  16. Ieuan Einion
    May 26, 2020 at 13:12

    The so-called democracy movement in Hong Kong is no different from the Free Syrian Army, the Maidan Square protestors, Juan Guaido, the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn in the the UK etc. It is not incidental to but more likely than not a direct product of US statecraft and imperialist machinations.

  17. padre
    May 26, 2020 at 12:46

    What loss of autonomy is he talking about?It is the law, Hong Kong government was supposed to introduce some 20 years ago!

  18. Jeff Harrison
    May 26, 2020 at 12:41

    One wonders how long it will take the rest of the world to start treating the US as the US treats them. Your observation that: “you know, the morally sound people who think nothing of strangling the populations of Iran and Venezuela while prolonging the suffering in Syria by many years and many hundreds of thousands of casualties.” understates the extent and viciousness of American meddling by several orders of magnitude. When will we start to see shadowy actors fomenting trouble in the US? The US is terrified of Russian meddling in the 2020 elections largely because we know what we would be doing

  19. May 26, 2020 at 12:06

    I have some familiarity with the Chinese, having served as a “homestay” for a fine young student from China for two and a half years and having got to know all his friends. I also taught a fair number of university students from China.

    They were lovely, bright kids, and I remember their smiles and laughter.

    I saw no hostility towards the US in them then.

    But their pride in China and its accomplishments and history were immense. Quite palpable.

    Only an idiot would act to belittle that pride, and the US very much has two noisy idiots at the head of its government. And touching on any matter of Chinese sovereignty, such as Hong Kong, borders on insanity. Chinese pride will not allow it.

    Although they are truly obnoxious, it is not just Trump & Co. The whole Washington establishment resents China, its remarkable rise, and they fear its superior competitiveness. They have not opposed Trump’s viciousness. And some have parroted his most hateful themes.

    It is becoming dangerous. And it is beyond foolish at a time of great fragility in the world’s economy to be attacking the other great engine of growth.

    My own belief is that China will emerge from the current crises strengthened, able to compete in new areas such as heath. It will have won new admirers and partners in the world. And it ready to do business with everyone. Its people will work smoothly together to make things right. And they have superb leadership.

    America will come out of the dual crisis of disease and economy considerably weakened. It has lost the respect even of many old allies with its display of selfish concern and incompetence. It has terrible leadership. And it is dedicated to purposes that make no sense – i.e., “full-spectrum dominance everywhere,” a one-way trip to nowhere, except possibly to war.

    There isn’t a hint of real leadership in Washington. Just arrogant people who believe they should be number-one in everything. Even if Biden wins the election, he is a man of no promise. And I am something of a believer in Carlyle’s maxim, “History is biography.”

    Corruption and war from a bellowing, unstable man or corruption and war from an old party hack does seem to summarize the election choice ahead.

    My fear is that Washington will push with even more desperate tactics in either case, especially if my view of how the two countries will emerge from the dual crisis holds.

    • Craig Mouldey
      May 26, 2020 at 16:28

      Many good comments here and I couldn’t have given a better summary than you have. I also share your concern regarding how the aspiring empire is going to react. While I haven’t read the book yet, I have read the introduction to Tragedy and Hope which was an eye-opener on its own. The writer said that the real world rulers are family banking dynasties who have set up spider webs of control. They are planning on a final 3rd world war and they are very near to completing their new world order which will be a feudal system, slaves, and masters, for those they permit to remain alive. Of course, now we are learning that most of us are ‘non-essential’ and need to stay under house arrest.

  20. AnneR
    May 26, 2020 at 11:03

    Thank you Mr Lawrence for your perspective on this. Not that I agree with your perspective, at least not in full. And definitely not in the hubristic, arrogant US led demands that China behave as they themselves do NOT.

    First – you talk about the protest “movement” being concerned about “democracy,” “self-determination.” Yet you do not mention that those protests (weak word for their violent, ugly nature) were instigated, provoked by the attempt to install in HK an extradition law allowing the HK govt to extradite to China and Taiwan (Macau too? – Macau already has such a law) such criminals as murderers. This extradition bill was itself provoked by a man, accused of murder, fleeing to HK in order to escape criminal proceedings against him. THIS is not at all unusual for HK – not usually for murder, but many, usually financial criminals and the like go there to avoid prosecution and likely punishment in the country in which they committed the crime.

    I notice that in this piece, even as you raise the business of the “protests,” “demonstrations,” you ignore utterly the violence perpetrated by some? many? of those demonstrators/protestors: the beating up of two journalists in the airport when they took it over for over a day; the beating up of people (who dared! to disagree with them) in malls; the setting on fire of a man and thereby killing him; throwing bricks at the police. And just how many of Hong Kong’s residents (the working class members thereof) were equally as eager as these apparently young, well-heeled, westernized (International Schools?) products are at severing all ties with China?

    (Moreover, I cannot think of a single western nation that would have handled any such protests/demonstrations, given their violence and their shutting down the major airport for c. 24 hours, with kid gloves. Heck, we only have to visit what the French Police did every weekend throughout 2019 to NON-violent protestors, demonstrators asking for a reduction in, a softening of the austerity measures so beloved by the neocon-neo-liberals of the western world. Brutal isn’t in it: eyes blown out, jaws destroyed, deaths…and we needn’t doubt that these protests would have been any different over here; even less likely were the protestors akin to the Hong Kong ones in their actions.)

    The Brits introduced Opium into China and thereby deliberately sparked a war which led to the Brits taking Hong Kong (and granting themselves sovereignty over it!). Rather than simply returning it to China in the 1950s-60s – more in keeping thereby with the return of such as Nigeria/India to their rightful “owners.” Thus it could and did dictate the terms of its long partial return. Typical western hubris. Of course, HK has been very useful for the financial elites as a place to avoid the laws and taxes of the “home” bases of their capitalist institutions. THIS I would argue also lies behind the western anger/angst at China’s move (not that HK has been doing too over the past years with the development of Shenzhen).

    And one might wonder at Macau – How is it that this territory, also stolen from China (by the Portuguese) and “returned” to them under very similar requirements, has not been “protesting,” “demonstrating” supposedly for democracy, self-determination? They have, so far as I’m aware, pretty much the same political set up as HK. I do think, Mr Lawrence, you are being far too kind to Wong and his associates. I would suggest that he and his allies are not so innocent, so gullible as your piece declares.

  21. Drew Hunkins
    May 26, 2020 at 10:46

    “Wong, who emerged as an influential voice following an earlier wave of protests known as the Umbrella Movement, made a much-remarked trip to Washington last autumn, during which he met with various members of Congress — including Marco Rubio, the hyper-hawkish Florida senator with a pronounced taste for “regime change” operations.”

    “met with Rubio.”

    Tells you all you need to know.

    • Realist
      May 27, 2020 at 03:11

      Indeed, Rubio is the biggest John McStain warmongering wanna-be in the senate… after he promised us Floridians that he would not run for another term in the senate. Apparently, he disliked the job so much he was AWOL for MOST of his first term and seemed to have found a generous Zionist godfather in billionaire auto mogul Norman Braman for whom he functioned as a multi-purpose minion. He lied, as he does about most things. I can only conclude that he changed his mind when he reflected upon all the misery he and his fellow congressional tools have the privilege of inflicting upon millions of anonymous foreigners and knew he would miss it. His pet victims seem to be any Latin American country that would elect national leadership even slightly left of Augusto Pinochet or Leopoldo Galtieri. His fingerprints are all over the recent coup against Evo Morales.

      Seriously, the entirety of congress (which passes all its outrageous sanctions, seizures, censures and formal condemnations unanimously) together with the complete executive branch and all its sundry departments are the most egregious bunch of meddlers in the governance, politics and internal affairs of other nations around the whole wide planet… which also makes them the worst sort of hypocrites to shamelessly strut their condescending attitude. According to Washington, China, Russia and Iran are nothing but meddlers in civilisations they have been integral parts of for thousands of years, far longer than the country supporting the so-called “American” regime has been in existence. It’s rich: Washington can lambast Beijing for reabsorbing Hong Kong or Russia for re-admitting Crimea while it occupies Guantanamo only because it outguns Cuba by about a million-fold. Yet it goes into conniptions because China builds artificial islands on nearby shoals in what is called the South China Sea, not the South American Sea. Somehow–because “Monroe Doctrine”–Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, indeed the whole Western Hemisphere are Washington’s business… and so is Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ukraine, Syria… and the list goes on.

  22. peter mcloughlin
    May 26, 2020 at 10:44

    Big Power rivalry led to World War One. The Treaty of Versailles contributed to the Second World War. What we are witnessing today in Hong Kong, and other equally dangerous global flash points, is the descent into third world war. Humanity has still not learned the lesson of history.

  23. Antiwar7
    May 26, 2020 at 10:13

    This author gives way too much credence to the Hong Kong protestors. It’s almost as if he’s writing about what he wants them to be, and not what they are. Assuming that this movement has only recently come under the guidance and funding of the US govt is naive in the extreme. Hong Kong never had anything like democracy under the British (they have more now), so why didn’t they protest then?

    I also observed and talked to the protesters, and they were arrogant, unreasonable, and racist (against mainland Chinese). Their government is more responsive than the one in the US (they quickly tabled the “offensive” legislation), and yet the protesters want to kill, maim, and destroy to change it. They are not a sympathetic bunch.

    • AnneR
      May 26, 2020 at 11:12

      Absolutely right, Antiwar 7. And you raised a question I had thought of but then forgot (age). Why no protests under the Brits – or even as soon as the Brits had “semi” handed HK back to China without having “self-determination”?

      And yes, I have read about the young Hong Kong folks, especially, being racist against the mainland Chinese (never mind that many if not most of them descend from those). The racism, I would suggest, is in the air, spread by the British from the beginning of their occupation (deriving as it does from western arrogance mixed with Orientalism).

      And you are right: those protestors are anything but sympathetic.

    • jdd
      May 26, 2020 at 11:26

      Correct. When one sees the mayhem and destruction caused by these black-masked anarchist mobs, the fires they set, the public facilities they trash, their armed attacks on police, one wonders how they could, by any stretch of the imagination, reasonably be called “pro-democracy protesters.” Yet the entire media from FOX to the NY Times, taking its cue Pompeo, et al., continue to repeat ad nauseam this nonsensical description what amounts to the Chinese version of “antifa.”

    • May 26, 2020 at 12:21

      Agreed, Well-said.

      The protesters were obnoxious and used a great many of home-made firebombs and shot bows-and-arrows in the streets.

      The Hong Kong police did a difficult job well. The author doesn’t adequately credit them.

      Just compare with what was going on in Paris and Gaza at the time – public mass killing and crippling of unarmed demonstrators. Just savagery.

      And there was almost certainly State Department and CIA collusion behind the scenes.

    • Piotr Berman
      May 26, 2020 at 13:47

      The protest movement has (some) laudable principles. It is like having a very good ingredient for a soup. But you need other ingredients too, proper preparation and proper proportion. ->Oh, cayenne pepper (America support) will improve it. It says “add a dash”, OK, we will pour the content of this new jar, it will be excellent! <-

      The protests started from a weird issue, a law that would end impunity for gangsters who murder in Taiwan etc. So it was attempt to "exceed the level of liberty in UK" without allowing any arguments about faults of that issue. The connection to laudable principles was weak from the start. Needless to mention, "American friends" in the halls of power detest any limits on deportation, to the point of using abductions and worse.

    • 1Skeptic
      May 26, 2020 at 14:44

      Hear, hear!

      “It was never intended to turn the territory into some kind of neoliberal outpost on China’s border — a variant of the mess Washington has made in Ukraine.”

      How can the author cite Ukraine, and then with the same breath, says that’s not the intent for Hong Kong? What fools does he take us for?

    • Tobin Paz
      May 26, 2020 at 14:51

      US “Color Revolution” Struggles in Hong Kong

      What is not only omitted – but actively denied – is the fact that the opposition’s core leaders, parties, organizations, and media operations are all tied directly to Washington DC via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and corporate foundations like Open Society Foundation.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      May 27, 2020 at 08:54

      Agree. The author makes some wrong assumptions and conclusions

      (1) Anyone getting support from the US of A to install “democracy” is like asking an arsonist to save a burning house. Examples abound (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, a host of south American countries)

      (2) After decades of colonizing and exploiting Hong Kong the “west” has only now found that HK lacks democracy? Give me a break.

      (3) How about political oppression at home by west? What right do these governments have to criticize China’s efforts keep political stability at home? Remember “Patriotic” Act, mass surveillance, torture, torture of whistle blowers – all done by the west to “protect” their system.

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