Renewal and hope in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region held its sixth-term chief executive election on May 8, 

with the central leadership taking all necessary measures to prevent external forces from interfering in the process.

Hong Kong has been a leading global financial and logistics center for decades.

But the city’s rise as an exceptionally prosperous region under British colonial rule during China’s “century of powerlessness”, from the First Opium War in 1840-42 through to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, is symbiotically connected to the suffering of the Chinese people at the hands of Western colonial powers.

It was from Hong Kong that the colossal criminal colonialist project of flooding China with opium to generate enormous profits and force its people into misery was directed through Guangzhou, Shanghai and other Chinese ports.

Even after the end of World War II 

in 1945 — as British historian Richard Overy writes in his new book — Blood and Ruins — the British governments of Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee, deaf to their own rhetoric of the virtues of freedom and democracy, were determined to keep China weak and helpless and saw their continued occupation of Hong Kong as essential to the success of that dark enterprise.

“The British after 1945 preferred the idea (of) a weak, divided China, where regional concessions might still be extracted,” Overy wrote. “The test of British intentions came with the reoccupation of Hong Kong in September 1945, carried out in defiance of an agreement with Chiang (Kai-shek) to allow Chinese forces to take it back.”

Ironically, at that time the British efforts were, briefly, opposed by then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a foe of colonial exploitation.

“The United States objected to the fait accompli and every effort was made to ensure that Britain would not attempt to resuscitate its former status,” Overy continues.

But unfortunately, after Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, his successor Harry Truman abandoned the anti-colonial policy of his predecessor and Hong Kong remained under British colonial rule for more than half a century.

Today, we see an extraordinary effort by the US, eagerly supported by Britain and other allies, to turn the clock back and once again manipulate Hong Kong and its people as a tool to destabilize China.

Western rhetoric of defending democracy, human rights and free trade has been used repeatedly over the past 30 years to undermine and eventually destroy formerly stable and often prosperous societies around the world.

The most striking recent example, was the shameless “Maidan coup” in Ukraine in 2014, which destabilized the country and set it on course to the tragic conflict we see today.

Hong Kong has flourished for a full quarter century under Chinese rule and its 7.5 million people continue to enjoy one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Still, Western powers want to trigger continuous political agitations in their attempt to destabilize the SAR.

Those duped into believing that their repeated efforts to alienate and mobilize them in witless agitations — eventually leading to violence — are good for Hong Kong should remember the remorseless outcomes of such misadventures around the world. 

The agitations never bring the supposed idyllic and mythical “freedom”, but only culminate in the horrific rule of the mob and economic collapse.

China remains determined to ensure this will not be the dark fate of Hong Kong residents, despite some of them having been selected — through no choice of their own — as pawns to be used in the cynical “Great Game” of subversion and propaganda to try and undermine China and check its rise.

The Hong Kong CE election came as the city is emerging from the crippling fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Constant vigilance and the continued application of the procedures so painfully learned to prevent and control the spread of the novel coronavirus must be continued.

The same principle applies to the maintenance of law and order.

Through the CE election, Hong Kong has shown the world how to step away from the sinister temptations of destructive, meaningless protests and violence, and transform the threat of fear into a bright era of hope and renewal.

The author is a senior fellow of the American University in Moscow. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.