Student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung recently grabbed headlines again after he was detained by Thai authorities at the Bangkok airport and sent back to Hong Kong, reportedly at Beijing’s request.
However, lesser known was that, according to reports of the Associated Press on Oct. 5, while the HKSAR government was under a gag order imposed by Beijing over Wong’s detention, the US Consulate General in Bangkok expressed deep concern about what happened to Wong and demanded an explanation from the Thai government.
Thanks to the diplomatic pressure exerted by the US imperialists, Wong didn’t vanish off the face of the earth like the Causeway Bay booksellers did.
The fact that a Chinese citizen once again had to rely on a western power to guarantee his personal safety indeed constitutes a national humiliation for the entire Chinese people.
But luckily, that humiliation probably only applies to mainland Chinese but not to Hong Kong people; an increasing number of people in this city no longer regard themselves as Chinese.
Rather, many have even begun to consider China as a truly hostile foreign power that is trying to invade our city and take away our freedom.
What is really outrageous about Wong’s detention is that this time Beijing didn’t even bother to pretend that it had nothing to do with the whole plot.
Rather, by blatantly and unabashedly violating diplomatic protocol and ordering a foreign government to deny a Chinese dissident entry to its territory, what Beijing was trying to do is to intimidate all those in Hong Kong who dare to stand up to it and show them that it is capable of messing them up anytime and anywhere it wants, even on foreign soil that is supposedly outside its jurisdiction.
Just ask civil rights activists in the mainland and they will probably tell you that they are not surprised at all by what happened to Joshua Wong because the Communist Party is notorious for not having any respect and the most common decency when it comes to using dirty tricks against dissidents.
These tricks involve depriving you of your freedom to travel or hiring some thugs to harass you.
Beijing has already succeeded in terrifying and subjugating the pan-democrats by not allowing them to set foot on the mainland.
After Wong returned to Hong Kong, Ip Kwok-him, a former lawmaker representing the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and an incumbent member of the National People’s Congress, publicly, and rather disdainfully, said that Wong had it coming because of what he had done in the past.
Ip’s arrogance might have stemmed from his fond belief that he himself is a modern-day red aristocrat who has a lot of powerful friends in Beijing, whereas people like Wong are mere juvenile delinquents.
What he has failed to notice is that Wong has already risen to international prominence and is now a world-class political figure who is so much in favor with western powers that they will offer him protection whenever he gets into trouble.
In fact, those supporting Wong could be a lot more powerful than the force behind Ip.
Beijing has made a stupid mistake by victimizing Wong.
Wong, despite his pro-democracy and anti-communist stance, is the leading figure of the moderate wing of the so-called Post-Occupy Generation.
By persecuting him, Beijing is simply further alienating the moderate faction of the pro-democracy movement, thereby pushing more and more of them towards the pro-independence bloc.
It would definitely be Beijing’s worst nightmare if Joshua Wong got radicalized as a result of the political persecution against him and teamed up with the pro-independence faction.
Given his popularity and support from the West, Wong’s potential to be a great pro-democracy leader is simply beyond calculation.
If that happens, perhaps Beijing will only have itself to blame.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 11.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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