UN panel’s uninformed statement on Hong Kong was appalling

The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a statement concerning the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong in 2020. The European External Action Service echoed the statement with no further investigation the next day. 

To the 1.4 billion Chinese on the mainland and many Hong Kong residents, the public statement was appalling and uninformed. It was appalling because condemning a vibrant city amid peacetime seemed as though the European Union was picking petty fights to divert attention from domestic gaffes. It was uninformed because ideological debates took precedence over fundamental facts.

In any country save for unstable ones mired in eternal turbulence, it is a given that patriots take the helm. It only makes sense that people who love their country and citizens make decisions that align with the best interest of the majority. Majoritarianism is integral to democracy in form and figure despite the two ideas being incongruent. Even in the West, political factions go to great lengths to achieve the best interests of the constituents they represent while dreaming up a better country to live in. For instance, in the United States, Republicans and Democrats tussle for influence in Congress to drive policies that they believe would make America a better place. In the United Kingdom, Tories sniff betrayal from Scottish politicians who are poised to trigger a second referendum for independence from the union. In Spain, any dialogue related to Catalonian independence is widely regarded as secession. Fundamentally, political discourse happens under the overarching principle of patriotism.

Critics who reside elsewhere are poorly informed of how discourse on social progress emerged to be more constructive since the enactment of the NSL. Aspiring politicians joined the fray in the latest Legislative Council election, the first held since the electoral reforms

Since the conception of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, muddied terms in the Sino-British Joint Declaration lent to a mainstream interpretation painted by Western media that over time strayed farther from the framework of territorial sovereignty — the sine qua non of “one country, two systems”. The Chinese government has hitherto honored the declaration to its fullest. For a quarter of a century, Hong Kong maintained its own judicial system and governmental apparatus. Legislative procedures and privacy rules across the border can be no further disparate. Matters as pedestrian as the steering wheel being placed on opposite sides of a car reflect systematic idiosyncrasies on both sides.

In fact, Hong Kong has enjoyed a much wider degree of debate on issues pertaining to the well-being of people. A broad stroke of issues that bedevil global citizens remains to be solved — economical stagflation, uncontainable healthcare expenditures fueled partially by an aging population, food and water stability against the backdrop of climate change, terrorist attacks, and so on. Ask any wayfarer by the curb: Pragmatic politicians who strive to move the needle in any aspect that improves citizens’ lives deserve to stand in elections and hold office. In the same vein, were the turncoats who hijack the political system and obstruct social progress meant to benefit Hong Kong residents allowed to be in the driver’s seat, wreckage would be sure to ensue. The riots in 2019 were a case in point. Gaslighting, browbeating, stone throwing, flame bombing — none is missed by the people of Hong Kong. The National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong then becomes an overdue framework to protect the people. By incentivizing the public to choose worthy politicians and penalizing mutually destructive behavior, the law has proved successful. Loopholes are plugged. No longer can defectors promulgate fringe beliefs to hold the region hostage. Taxpayer funds earmarked for social spending on improving public welfare received the long-awaited green light. The streets are once again safe for circumambulation.

Western powers have in the recent few years jointly framed any policy made by the Chinese government as a violation of human rights. They derided the NSL as an infringement of personal freedom when the law created more space for conversation around well-being matters that most citizens hold dear. Critics who reside elsewhere are poorly informed of how discourse on social progress emerged to be more constructive since the enactment of the NSL. Aspiring politicians joined the fray in the latest Legislative Council election, the first held since the electoral reforms. One bill proposing to abolish the use of the accrued benefits of employers’ mandatory contributions under the Mandatory Provident Fund was finally passed in the Legislative Council after some grandiloquent fire sparks between employee- and employer-backed factions. The floor is open to debates that run the gamut from increasing apartment supplies to reopening borders for tourism. As long as one valiantly fights for the betterment of Hong Kong people, anything goes. Fringe politicians portray Hong Kong as a dystopian gulag abounding with human rights abuses. Malcolm Clarke produced a series of documentaries that chronicled some self-labeled democratic warriors wrecking public amenities and assaulting innocent bystanders. This was contrary to the narrative proposed by mainstream Western media, which depicted rioters as freedom crusaders.

The West tried to tamper with African politics in a similarly haughty manner. Western politicians failed to make meaningful shifts in advancing social good on the continent not despite but because of a weak grasp of the fundamental issues that beset locals. They are bent on repeating history in Asia. Alas, many politicians choose to profit from the tailwinds of nationalist agendas in their countries. Bashing China befits their image and purpose. To truly uphold basic human rights and the perpetual improvement of such — food, medicine and shelter — it is high time for the West to leave with Hong Kong people the liberty to develop and prosper.

The author is a licensed medical doctor and holds a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. He is also a member of the New People’s Party.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.