One couldn’t help but burst into laughter when the politicians in Washington staged yet another China-thumping stunt in a businesslike manner as usual even though the novelty of their maneuvers has long worn off after they repeatedly played their “Hong Kong card”, “Taiwan card”, “Xinjiang card” and others in recent years.
It took unusual courage for members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a panel that advises the US Congress on policy toward China, to use the phrase “a city of fear” in its narrative of Hong Kong in its so-called report on the city released recently. They had to ignore the fact that the world had full knowledge of Hong Kong through the city’s expat community of hundreds of thousands of members, including tertiary students, professionals and businesspeople.
They also had to be oblivious to the fact that global foreign direct investment inflows into Hong Kong amounted to $140.7 billion in 2021, ranked third globally, just behind the United States ($367.4 billion) and the Chinese mainland ($181.0 billion), according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s “World Investment Report 2022”. Otherwise, how could they have associated the world’s third-most favored destination for business and investment with “a city of fear”?
People have no difficulty figuring out why the National Security Law implemented in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020, has become the bete noire of many a Washington politician. It has in effect kept almost all local subversives at bay, preventing them from continuing to mess up Hong Kong as those China-bashers wish.
The CECC should have given credit to the security law for helping to restore peace and order in Hong Kong, which was devastated by the rioters during the black-clad insurrection in 2019-20, a defacto “color revolution”, had the panel consulted the expat community and the ordinary citizens in the city, instead of cooking up their report.
Those politicians in Washington who are playing their “Hong Kong card” again are deceiving themselves if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community by merely cooking up a fake report
The panel’s claim that Hong Kong’s security law has created a “devastating effect” must have bewildered the city’s expat community, not to mention the locals who can now walk freely on the street without fear of being attacked by the black-clad rioters. The law is no different from those of its kind implemented in almost every country in the world, including Western democracies; it outlaws only acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, none of which falls into the scope of civil rights and freedom.
The allegation that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has pursued a policy to “constrain those media that could be controlled and exterminate those that could not” is the wildest lie among those told by the panel’s so-called report.
The panel has obviously ignored the fact that Hong Kong has a vibrant media. As of Sept 30, 2021, there were 94 daily newspapers and 451 periodicals, including numerous electronic newspapers and broadcasters such as BBC, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Financial Times, etc. All of these media platforms trippingly and conveniently beam their uninterrupted information flows into Hong Kong 24/7 while covering every local event they are interested in by fielding their Hong Kong-based journalists. It is beyond imagination that the HKSAR government could have “constrained” or “terminated” those media outlets.
The panel’s accusation that the national security legislation has directly and indirectly forced dozens of “independent organizations” to cease operations is a clever half-truth. But a half-truth is ever the blackest of lies. Those now-defunct organizations, including the publishers of Apple Daily, Stand News, and the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, shut down because the operators behind those organizations saw no room to continue with their anti-China subversive activities under the guise of freedom of expression after the promulgation of the security law. Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily, found no need to hide their mission to subvert China. “We in Hong Kong are fighting for the shared values of the US against China. We are fighting their war in the enemy camp,” he told CNN in an interview in 2019. The five leaders of the now-defunct General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists were recently found guilty of inciting antagonism and fostering separatism by publishing a book series designed to indoctrinate young children with a “separatist ideology”. The books could plant “seeds of hatred and fear in children’s minds”, the presiding judge of the case concluded. Stand News ceased operation in December 2021 after the police arrested seven people who worked at the online news platform for publishing material that was allegedly seditious and had stirred up hatred against the government.
The world knows how Hong Kong fares through the world’s connection with the large expat community in the city. Those politicians in Washington who are playing their “Hong Kong card” again are deceiving themselves if they think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community by merely cooking up a fake report.
The author is a current-affairs commentator.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.