Saturday, 23 November 2019

Western observers getting *everything* wrong about Hong Kong

This is an email to someone podcasting about chaos in the world. Hong Kong was mentioned at he beginning but only in passing. And with virtually every word incorrect. 
Here’s my email to the caster:
Peter Forsythe here, 40+ year resident of Hong Kong and long-term subscriber …
I’m no friend of Beijing nor of our local government BUT, everything you said in your intro (bold italics below), re Hong Kong, after the words “You have the situation in Hong Kong where...”, was incorrect. They may be your feelings; they’re certainly not the facts….
You say  “the Chinese government is running roughshod over protesters” — this is not correct, because:
(a) the Chinese government (as in: Beijing) does not, at least yet, run our government. Our police force reports directly to our own Hong Kong Secretary of Security, via our own locally appointed Police Commissioner. And:
(b) the police force has been carrying out duties in the face of six months of violent provocation from protesters. There is currently an enquiry into police actions and whether they have perhaps been rather too robust — and there is much public debate about their actions — but to say ‘`riding roughshod” is not factual.  And doesn’t help our situation either.  
You go on... “solidifying its grasp on a territory” … if anything China has proved the naysayers of 1997 (the “handover”) wrong by keeping out Hong Kong's day-to-day affairs. And has done so even in the face of daily provocations. 
Then “… that it was not supposed to be in control of until something like 2040”.  Two factually incorrect statements here: 
(a) China has been and remains “in control” of Hong Kong, by international treaty and via our Constitution, the Basic Law, since 1997. It has allowed, via the BL, a “high degree of autonomy” (“Hong Kong people run Hong Kong”) to the local HK government, but that in no way diminishes its suzerainty, which is recognised internationally.  And: 
(b) the date the current “one country two systems” runs to is 2047, not 2040, and is not a termination date, but rolls over unless specifically abrogated. Many Hongkongers — including me -- think we ought be working to clarify and extent post 2047 the freedoms we enjoy now; rather than carrying out fruitless and self-defeating (as we see them) protests, violent vandalism, killing and injuring ordinary people in the process..
By the way, we are not a Syria or a Yemen, nor even an Egypt or Chile. We are, we have been, a liberal, modern, tolerant, free society, economically successful and enjoying every freedom one could wish. I cover our Freedoms here on my blog. Our existing Freedoms are neither trivial nor imaginary. They are serious and real. So to say — as do the protesters — we are fighting for “Freedom” is something of a sick joke and clearly crafted for international consumption. The only freedoms that are being abridged are ordinary people’s freedom of expression and movement by the protesters… (Just like in America, opponents, ordinary people, are “cancelled”, their shops trashed, opponents and police are doxxed. And more.. a man is dead from a protester’s brick to the head, another in a coma after being set alight by protesters, a policeman was hit by an arrow, another had his throat slashed…All this, and the police are the bad guys??).
… I’m a long term fan and subscriber, hugely impressed by your knowledge and skills, so I was naturally disappointed that every word you said after ‘You have the situation in Hong Kong… ” was wrong, or at least grossly misrepresents the facts on the ground. If you don’t know, don’t speak, would be my plea here.
RELATED: why we don’t like the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, recently passed by your Congress….
With best wishes from a Free Hong Kong — oh, and I’m going off to vote tomorrow in the local District Council elections. These are free and universal. And the District Councillors so elected have say in the make up of the Electoral Commission, which selects a short-list for the next Chief Executive, who is in turn elected.  But, you know, violence in the name of “Freedom and Democracy”. Yay!