HKDC: From bad to worse

On Sept 21, there was a changing of the guard at the Hong Kong Democracy Council, in Washington, DC. It was not, however, a new beginning, and one bunch of anti-China zealots simply replaced another. Insofar as there is any real difference between the two, it lies in the criminal records of the incoming team.

The HKDC was co-founded in September 2019 by Samuel Chu Muk-man, the son of “Occupy Central” co-founder Chu Yiu-ming, and Victoria Hui Tin-bor, a Hong Kong-born, US-based academic. It describes itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving basic freedoms, the rule of law, and autonomy as promised under the ‘one country, two systems’ model and enshrined in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration”. That, at least, is the hype, but, from the outset, it has misrepresented Hong Kong and sought to harm China, and was accordingly sanctioned by Beijing on July 27.  

The HKDC has close links not only with anti-China groupings in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom. In particular, it uses its platform to regurgitate the myths propagated by the London-based Hong Kong Watch, the propaganda outfit run by the serial fantasist Benedict Rogers. Indeed, its terminology mirrors that of Hong Kong Watch; its demands are similar and it even shares advisers. Whereas the HKDC announced the formation of its first “Advisory Board” on Sept 21, Hong Kong Watch did likewise on Sept 24, with at least one individual sitting on both. All this has fueled speculation that Rogers, who enjoys spreading his tentacles, is also pulling the strings with the HKDC.   

The HKDC says it plans “to transform HKDC into a more collaborative platform, amplify the voice of Hong Kongers, and continue our fight for a democratic Hong Kong”, although nobody should be fooled. It is just a smokescreen, designed to conceal its role as a tool of US foreign policy. Operated by an unholy trinity of criminal fugitives, convicted felons and proven liars, it exists solely to harm China, and has no qualms over sacrificing Hong Kong in the process

Be that as it may, Chu, who styled himself HKDC’s “managing director”, campaigned in the US for measures that would harm Hong Kong, as well as China as a whole. He urged the US Congress to enact both the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and these resulted in punitive sanctions. On July 14, 2020, after the then-president, Donald Trump, signed into law harsher sanctions, and revoked the special status Hong Kong enjoyed under the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, Chu’s response was to “urge Congress and the Administration to look into additional sanctions and regulations that would target China’s economy and US-based businesses complicit in the CCP’s global aggression”.

Quite clearly, therefore, Chu’s real target was China, and, like his confederates, he was prepared to sacrifice Hong Kong along the way. He shed crocodile tears for Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms, while simultaneously campaigning to hurt its officials and damage its economy. Indeed, on Aug 19, when Andy Li Yu-hin and Chan Tsz-wah pleaded guilty in the High Court to colluding with foreign forces and Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to endanger national security, they admitted that they had sought to encourage foreign governments to impose sanctions on the city, and that Chu was their US point man.

Once Li, with Lai’s approval, had prepared a list of 144 politicians and officials for sanctioning, he sent it to Chu, who passed it on to US senators Ted Cruz and Rick Scott for action, with a copy being sent to Hong Kong Watch. Although the US has rewarded Chu’s efforts with a passport, this has not protected him from a national security arrest warrant in Hong Kong. If that is ever executed, the evidence against him should be overwhelming, particularly if Li agrees to testify.

On Aug 24, five days after Li’s admissions, Chu and Hui announced their immediate resignations from the HKDC. Also resigning was fellow board member Annie Boyajian, an official at Freedom House, an organization that “advocates for US leadership” around the world. As for Anna Yeung-Cheung, the HKDC board president and founder of “New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong”, she said she would depart in the fall, following the “formal restructuring” of the leadership. Earlier than expected, however, the restructuring is complete and Yeung-Cheung is out, and the new lineup is not a pretty sight.

Whereas the incoming chairman is Alex Chow Yong-kang, the new executive director is Brian Leung Kai-ping, and the new advisory board convener is Nathan Law Kwun-chung. Although their predecessors were simply US dupes, this trio also brings an ugly record of violence to the table. Indeed, Chow and Law were imprisoned in 2016 for their involvement in an unlawful assembly in 2014 which left 10 people injured, and which the Court of Appeal called “a large-scale unlawful assembly involving violence”. 

Neither man has yet apologized to their victims, let alone paid them any compensation. Even worse, Law has lied about his role, and sought to rewrite history. On July 18, 2020, for example, he even made a stab at martyrdom, telling the British media that he was “in the first batch of political prisoners to receive prison for a peaceful demonstration”, and that “we were just crossing a line”. The only thing “political” about Law’s crime, however, was his resort to thuggery to get what he wanted. Indeed, one of his victims, Chan Kei-lun, who sustained bruises, swelling and a fracture, and was off work for six weeks, was airbrushed out of his interview, undoubtedly because he could have given the lie to Law’s claim that his crime was “peaceful”, and that he was simply “crossing a line”.

It is, moreover, not only Chow and Law who have violent histories, or are prepared to twist the truth. Brian Leung openly boasts of his role in the trashing of the Legislative Council Complex on July 1, 2019, and the reason is clear. Although he initially fled to Taiwan, he was then welcomed with open arms in the US, where, despite his vandalism, he was invited to Congress, which points to his being a US proxy all along. Although he played a central role in the violence, which caused damage costing HK$50 million ($6.42 million) to repair, he now revels in his notoriety, even calling himself “an icon”. However bizarre, his US handlers are happy to pander to this outsized ego, at least so long as he still has some use.

It is, however, not only Leung who has been lionized by the US. When the then-US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, visited the UK on July 21, 2020, he summoned Nathan Law to a meeting, at which he is believed to have thanked him for his anti-China activities, and urged him to keep it up. Although the exact nature of the instructions Pompeo gave him is unknown, a month later, on Aug 21, Law wrote to the British foreign secretary, the hapless Dominic Raab, since removed, and urged him to impose what Hong Kong Watch, his local patron, described as “targeted Magnitsky sanctions on Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Hong Kong and Chinese government officials”.

Quite clearly, therefore, the leadership of the HKDC is now dominated not only by US proxies, but also men of violence and inveterate liars. Although it never had much credibility to start with, these developments expose it as a total sham, but this is by no means all. Its new advisory board members include the criminal fugitives Ted Hui Chi-fung and Sunny Cheung Kwan-yang, who need no introduction. Interestingly, Benedict Rogers, who describes Hui as his “hero”, has also appointed him to the advisory board of Hong Kong Watch, which reinforces the ties between the two bodies. It is, however, not easy to imagine what constructive advice Hui can possibly proffer anyone, unless, of course, it is how to beat upon single women, damage property or lie to judges.

It was Hui who, while still a legislator in 2019, attacked a female official, grabbed her telephone, and was then convicted of common assault, obstructing a police officer and gaining access to a computer with criminal intent. Thereafter, he threw noxious substances around in the Legislative Council Chamber, and was also charged with contempt for obstructing its officials amid violent scenes which left several of them injured. Although facing nine criminal charges, which included doing an act intended to pervert public justice and criminal damage, he was, after lying to a judge, allowed to leave Hong Kong. He has since become an honored guest in Australia, whose government, like that of the US, is happy to turn a blind eye to a fugitive’s crimes, so long as he espouses its anti-China agenda.

As for Sunny Cheung, he is also on the run, and is now holed up in the US. On Sept 17, 2019, together with Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Denise Ho Wan-see, he addressed the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in Washington, DC, and declared that Hong Kong was “the front line of the battle for freedom and against authoritarianism in China”, which delighted the assembled bigots. Thereafter, he is accused of participating in the allegedly subversive primaries organized by Benny Tai Yiu-ting in July 2020, and a national security warrant has been issued for his arrest.

On Sept 15, 2020, in a Facebook post, Cheung announced that he had fled due to “security and strategic concerns”, which will surprise nobody. In a subsequent post, on Aug 16 this year, he revealed that he was seeking asylum in the US. Although he has not yet been invited to Congress or given an American passport, it is surely only a matter of time, particularly if he can demonstrate his ongoing worth to his puppet masters. 

The HKDC says it plans “to transform HKDC into a more collaborative platform, amplify the voice of Hong Kongers, and continue our fight for a democratic Hong Kong”, although nobody should be fooled. It is just a smokescreen, designed to conceal its role as a tool of US foreign policy. Operated by an unholy trinity of criminal fugitives, convicted felons and proven liars, it exists solely to harm China, and has no qualms over sacrificing Hong Kong in the process. Like any other criminal conspiracy, it should be exposed, denounced and shunned by all right-thinking people, with its leaders facing justice in a court of law.

The author is a senior counsel, law professor and criminal justice analyst, and was previously the director of public prosecutions of the Hong Kong SAR.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.