Subversive media have only themselves to blame for plight

As China has successfully restored order and stability in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the 2019 riots, local authorities are cleaning up the leftover subversive and secessionist detritus.

Stand News was the last of the major anti-China and anti-HKSAR news outlets. Now it has shut down on its own after police raided its offices and arrested seven of its current and former bosses. Among them were long-time subversives such as former chief editor Chung Pui-kuen and acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam Shiu-tung, lawyer Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, and singer Denise Ho Wan-see.

It’s been a long time coming; the people of Hong Kong must cheer. Ho had been traveling to Western countries to slander and blacken the reputations of Hong Kong and Beijing, while spreading lies in collusion with Western governments, especially Washington. Ho and Ng, unfortunately, have been granted bail, a decision of the court we must nevertheless respect in a society of the rule of law such as Hong Kong, however much we think the pair deserve a very long stay in jail.

China has rightfully asserted its sovereignty against foreign operations under the guise of press freedom and free expression … If Washington thinks it has any leverage left — for example, with the Winter Olympics in February — it is sadly mistaken

Stand News won’t be the last subversive online voice in Hong Kong; there are still many others, especially ones that are blogged or updated by individuals, often from overseas. But as a well-funded organization — police have frozen assets worth HK$61 million ($7.83 million) — and it was the last of the larger-scale media agitators.

Police have listed stories published by the group which showed amply that it was less a news group and more a subversive organization.

According to the police, Stand News has been “inciting hatred against the Hong Kong government” in violation of a sedition law. Some American officials and news groups have criticized the use of the “colonial era law”, happily oblivious of the fact that Washington has used an espionage law from World War I to charge famous Australian whistleblower and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and seek his extradition from Britain. His real offense was to have exposed alleged US war crimes and government wrongdoings.

Most predictably, Western governments and media have made much of Ho’s citizenship as a Canadian. Well, she was born in Hong Kong and her accent when she speaks English, as much as she tries to hide it, rather betrays her country of origin.

Of the many offending articles published by Stand News, the last straw was a fake news report criticizing a new “smart” detention center for asylum seekers, mostly from the Asian region. Stand News had been in the spotlight of the authorities for months. Sensing trouble, it had deleted all its political commentary from its website in June.

But the crimes have already been committed. In its final statement posted on its site, it claimed to be “safeguarding Hong Kong’s core values of democracy, human rights, freedom, the rule of law and justice”. If only that were true.

It was in the business of generating fake news and commentaries to incite people against their own society and government. Police are still investigating possible ties to foreign agents. Fortunately, having revealed their true colors, Western governments led by Washington now have little leverage over the Hong Kong SAR and central governments.

Not everyone is so fortunate. Under US pressure, Poland has been compelled to shelve a bill that would have forced the current main shareholding entity of the broadcast network, TVN, to divest its controlling stake. The entity in question — US-based Discovery, Inc. — is not Polish. The likely real reason is that it’s American. That is why the Biden administration has been pulling out all the stops against the move by the conservative government in Warsaw. Not too long ago, the Americans would have such leverage over the Hong Kong SAR government; thankfully, not any more, now that the National Security Law for Hong Kong has effectively halted the operations of foreign agents and neutralized their influence.

China has rightfully asserted its sovereignty against foreign operations under the guise of press freedom and free expression — in reality, their blatant abuse against local authorities.

If Washington thinks it has any leverage left — for example, with the Winter Olympics in February — it is sadly mistaken. Hong Kong’s defense against foreign agents and local subversives is naturally portrayed as the crushing of press freedom. It’s actually the crushing of fake news, encouraged and perhaps even funded by foreign sources.

After all, how did a small operation like Stand News manage to amass HK$61 million worth of assets, which have now been frozen by police?

Western governments, news outlets and NGOs have been queuing up to denounce the closure of Stand News and the arrests of its bosses. It’s likely many Western critics have never even heard of the Hong Kong news website or read a (Chinese) word from its now-defunct website. But it’s par for the course for foreign sore losers, now that the city is reasserting its real autonomy and control after being for far too long the playground of local subversives and foreign agents. These must be neutralized if the city is ever to enjoy peace, security, stability and prosperity.
The author is a veteran journalist who specialized in covering Hong Kong and Chinese mainland social and political issues.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.