Date
20 January 2020
As Western forces make a big noise about the Hong Kong social unrest, the rhetoric can actually prove counter-productive for the city, some observers warn. Photo: AFP
As Western forces make a big noise about the Hong Kong social unrest, the rhetoric can actually prove counter-productive for the city, some observers warn. Photo: AFP

What Hong Kong should do amid US right-wing aggression

In late November, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was passed overwhelmingly by the US Congress.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a leading figure of a Washington-based conservative foreign policy advocacy group, Committee on the Present Danger: China, or CPDC, threatened that Congress would invoke its constitutional power to enforce the new law if President Donald Trump vetoed it.

Although Trump eventually signed the bill into law, he “reminded” Congress members that Sino-US trade talks are still underway.

Meanwhile, the Congress has also promptly passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act as well as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, with the CPDC also pulling the strings from behind the stage.

Under CPDC influence, it has become increasingly apparent that the Republicans and the Democrats have reached a bipartisan consensus, under which they are dead set upon getting their claws into mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the name of defending democracy and human rights with means including economic sanctions and international empowerment.

Compared to the Obama administration, the Trump government is adopting a more offensive yet pragmatic approach to dealing with China, and is now officially pushing the “containment” frontline into Hong Kong, Taiwan and parts of inland China such as Xinjiang.

On Aug. 30, the CPDC published an open letter in which the group urged Trump to “stand with Hong Kong”, because “under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party, the Hong Kong government has chosen to ignore the demands of the people, evidence that Hong Kong’s civil liberties are no longer respected and that what is left of its autonomy is in extremis.”

“In short, the CCP has broken its promises under the agreement signed with Britain at the time of the 1997 handover.”

As such, the CPDC said it believes “it is in the vital interests of the United States to take now the following steps:

• “Immediately sanction the following officials” in Hong Kong:
    • Chief Executive Carrie Lam
    • Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng
    • Secretary for Security John Lee
    • Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Stephen Lo (who has since retired) 
    • Director of Beijing’s Hong Kong Liaison Office Wang Zhimin

• “Immediately and publicly support the five demands of the Hong Kong protestors.”

• “Demand the CCP abide by and implement the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration Agreement signed in 1984.”

• Immediately suspend the US-Hong Kong Policy Act and rescind Hong Kong’s status as a “Preferential Trading Partner” once Beijing deploys either the People’s Armed Police or the People’s Liberation Army units against protesters in Hong Kong.

Given the above-mentioned evidence, we can assume that CPDC was a major force behind the scene in prompting the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, with the group aiming to jolt the communist regime in Beijing by supporting the protests in Hong Kong and imposing some sanctions.

Meanwhile, there is consensus among observers in the mainland, Hong Kong, the US and Britain that there has been immense social unrest in the wake of the anti-extradition bill saga.

Commentators fear the continued social unrest in Hong Kong would only cause Beijing to tighten its grip on the territory further by enforcing an overall jurisdiction.

In other words, what the aggressive approach advocated by the CPDC would do is push Hong Kong into a tighter embrace by the mainland.

As far as we are concerned, since the CPDC has deeply infiltrated the US government and society, US-Hong Kong relations are very likely to witness turbulence and volatility in the coming days.

Therefore, we must get ourselves prepared in advance so as to minimize the impact of the looming deterioration in US-Hong Kong ties upon our political and economic condition.

Such preparations, in my view, should include initiatives like enhancing our investment relations with other countries and regions in order to hedge our bets, and preventing the escalation of violent protests in Hong Kong by sanctioning relevant US organizations and their personnel that are sponsoring local protesters, and sanctioning the local protesters receiving their assistance.

At the same time, the Hong Kong government should promptly address issues of social injustice such as the disparity between the rich and the poor so as to eliminate the objective and potential elements that could trigger social instability, and call on the international community to stay alert to the threat posed by the CPDC and other US right-wing forces to world peace.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 18

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Dr Bryan Wong Pak-nung, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies, University of Bath, UK