23 January 2019
Simon Shen, an expert in international politics, says there is no evidence that foreign powers are involved in the Occupy campaign. Photo: TVB
Simon Shen, an expert in international politics, says there is no evidence that foreign powers are involved in the Occupy campaign. Photo: TVB

No foreign powers behind Occupy protests, says academic

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy campaign did not involve any foreign powers as western countries have no intention of meddling in the protests, an academic said.

Simon Shen Xuhui, associate professor and director of Global Studies Programme, Faculty of Social Science, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he believes foreign agents are operating in the territory, but there is no evidence that they were behind the pro-democracy movement.

“Some foreign powers exist in Hong Kong. For example, the National Endowment for Democracy is funded by the United States’ Department of State, but its funding is very small and would not be able to trigger a large-scale protest like the Occupy campaign,” Shen told Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) in an interview on Sunday.

Many foreign countries have expressed their support for the democracy campaign, but their statements are limited to “supporting Hong Kong to fight for democracy under the framework of the Basic Law”, Shen said, adding that such a tone is too moderate if compared with the protesters’ call for “genuine universal suffrage”.

Broadly speaking, foreign countries are taking advantage of the situation in Hong Kong to push the western democratic model that they adhere to, but they are doing so only by verbally supporting the Occupy protests, Shen said. They won’t take further actions without any real benefit, he said.

Apart from adapting to political reality or pursuing an ideal objective, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters should consider taking a third choice, which is constructivism, Shen said.

The success of the Occupy campaign should not simply depend on whether it is able to achieve genuine universal suffrage immediately but whether it can change and lead the public’s view on the issue, Shen said.

Also, Hong Kong’s Occupy campaign should not be directly compared with the civil disobedience protests in other countries, which usually target only a particular case of injustice and an unfair law, he said.

When people in East Europe were living under communist rule, they knew they could not change the political regime right away so they kept their political views and influenced their neighbors while living with the status quo, Shen said. “It’s not an evasion but an achievable target that all people can contribute in today’s difficult situation.”

Organizers should think deeply how to fine-tune their strategies to achieve the best results, he suggested.

In early September, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said on its official website it is important that Hong Kong people have a genuine choice and a real stake in the outcome of the chief executive election through universal suffrage.

After a protester was beaten by policemen at Tamar Park in Admiralty in the early hours on Oct. 15, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington is “deeply concerned” by the case of police brutality.

On Oct. 16, Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that it is important Hong Kong is able to enjoy freedoms and rights set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international agreement which paved the way for the handover of sovereignty to China in 1997.

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