Anti-China UK politicians fool themselves with fabricated HK reports

By paying any attention to its so-called “report on media freedom in Hong Kong”, one is in effect flattering the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong (APPGHK).

The latest “report” released by the group on Monday is merely another clumsy political stunt intended to vilify China, and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in particular.

Obviously, the “rapid inquiry” on Hong Kong’s situation that the APPGHK “report” claims to have conducted in February is imaginary. The group has no interest in facts because facts do not square with their lies

It claims that media freedom and the rule of law have been eroded by the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL), citing specifically the case of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and his now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper, but nothing could be further from the truth.

READ MORE: National Security Law the guardian of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity

Lai is being prosecuted on four charges, including two counts of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces, one count of collusion with foreign forces, and one charge linked to alleged seditious publications, which are serious crimes throughout the world and have nothing to do with media freedom. Being a media tycoon doesn’t spare Lai of legal liability when he breaks the law, and equality before the law is a fundamental principle of the rule of law.

The APPGHK “report” also claims that “doing business in Hong Kong is now unsafe. … Businesses must be astute to the heightened risk of operating in Hong Kong due to the erosion of the rule of law and independent press.”

Those behind the APPGHK are merely interested in making political gestures; they are oblivious to the facts on the ground: The rule of law remains alive and well in Hong Kong. According to a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, 73 percent of members interviewed have confidence in Hong Kong’s rule of law; more than 60 percent of the respondents said the implementation of the NSL has had no negative impact on their companies’ operations in Hong Kong.

A couple of months earlier, a video featuring the chairs of business chambers of the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Singapore, Japan, India and France in Hong Kong was launched as part of the “Hello Hong Kong” promotional campaign, highlighting the benefits of starting businesses in Hong Kong. The chamber representatives described Hong Kong as “safe” and “incredibly attractive” in the video. Within the video, Anne Kerr, chair of the British chamber in Hong Kong, said that the city has a “sound legal system”.

On Jan 19, when delivering his inaugural remarks, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong’s new chairman, Geoffrey Siebengartner, also made positive comments on Hong Kong, saying, “To support the economy and attract businesses and talent, AmCham is of the view that the Hong Kong government must communicate to foreign investors and the business community that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy remains vibrant and intact.”

Obviously, the “rapid inquiry” on Hong Kong’s situation that the APPGHK “report” claims to have conducted in February is imaginary. The group has no interest in facts because facts do not square with their lies.

It has long been glaringly exposed that APPGHK, one of the hundreds of unofficial groupings created by individual parliamentarians, is controlled by fervent anti-China British politicians, including chair Alistair Carmichael, co-chair Natalie Bennett, and vice-chair David Alton.

Both Carmichael and Alton are patrons of Hong Kong Watch, which can be credibly dubbed as the most fanatic anti-China propaganda outfit in the world, operated by Benedict Rogers, who makes a living on promoting his anti-China cause and agenda.

Alton, who was sanctioned by Beijing in 2021 for vilifying China with malicious lies and disinformation, urged the UK government in February to bar Chinese officials from the upcoming coronation of King Charles III.

Ideological bias has also fostered Bennett’s hatred against Beijing and the HKSAR government. In August 2020, she cooked up, in her capacity as APPGHK co-chair, another APPGHK “report”, accusing the Hong Kong Police Force of “indisputably” violating international human rights law by using “excessive force” during the “black-clad” riots in 2019, in complete disregard of the numerous videos floated by local and international media outlets in various channels attesting to the extraordinary courage, constraint and professionalism of the Police Force in handling the extremely violent activities and rioters over months. In sharp contrast with the past riot cases elsewhere that typically caused serious casualties, no life was lost in Hong Kong’s months of riots, except a 70-year-old street cleaner who died after being hit on the head with a brick thrown by a rioter.

READ MORE: National Security Law interpretation a welcome act

The APPGHK’s relentless efforts to smear Hong Kong are not without reason. Grenville Cross SC deserves great credit for shedding light on the group’s sordid business (UK Parliament Acts to Protect Itself From Systemic Abuse by Political Fanatics and Paid Lobbyists, Feb 24, 2023, China Daily Hong Kong Edition). It was discovered that APPGHK’s secretariat is the Whitehouse Consultancy (Whitehouse), which introduces itself as “a political communications agency, specializing in public affairs and strategic communications”. Whitehouse was being funded by Stand with Hong Kong (SWHK), a subversive, anti-police grouping, with close ties to anti-China forces in both Hong Kong and the US; as of Nov 5, 2019, SWHK had pumped 34,501 British pounds ($42,870) into Whitehouse, according to Cross’ article.

It surprised few that Hong Kong Watch was delighted by and welcomed the APPGHK “report” immediately following its release. But the anti-China politicians are only intoxicating themselves; there is no way they can pull the wool over other people’s eyes, particularly those who genuinely care for Hong Kong.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.