Radical protesters attack police officers in Tsuen Wan in the western New Territories of south China’s Hong Kong, Aug. 25, 2019. (Xinhua)
Since the new U.S. administration took office, it has not changed the hegemonic behavior of its predecessor on issues related to Hong Kong, having launched at least 13 smear attacks against China on those issues and raved about “standing with Hong Kong people” many times.
The U.S. side has also churned out fallacies about the proper measures taken to boost the long-term stability of Hong Kong, including China’s implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong and measures to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system. Washington has also ganged up with some Western forces to launch a propaganda campaign against China, and even imposed so-called “sanctions” against Chinese officials.
The unprovoked attacks on China by the new U.S. administration on issues related to Hong Kong are listed below in a bid to restore truths through an account of facts.
After China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) adopted a decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on March 11, the U.S. State Department issued a statement to attack and discredit China’s decision. The U.S. side also issued a statement with other Group of Seven members to defame China. On March 17, the U.S. State Department announced so-called “sanctions” against 24 Chinese officials, including 14 vice chairmen of the NPC Standing Committee, on the eve of a high-level strategic dialogue between China and the United States in the U.S. state of Alaska.
After the NPC adopted the decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department claimed that the decision attacked Hong Kong’s democratic process. However, it is purely China’s internal affair to design and improve Hong Kong’s electoral system, and no foreign force is entitled to interfere. In fact, the United States has its own strict laws against foreign interference in elections, and the U.S. House of Representatives had passed a bill to improve the U.S. electoral system. Why can the United States itself amend its own electoral laws any time it deems necessary but go all out to denigrate China’s improvement of such laws for one of its special administrative regions?
While the U.S. side alleged that the targets of its so-called “sanctions” have “undermined the high degree of autonomy promised to the people in Hong Kong,” the U.S. accusation was not consistent with the facts. The NPC has made decisions on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong and improving the electoral system of Hong Kong respectively. The improved electoral system has ensured the implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong,” which excludes anti-China, destabilizing forces from the governance structure and better guarantees the national security and the safety of the HKSAR’s body of power. It has also better reflected the extensive and balanced political participation by Hong Kong residents, which in no way weakens Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, but is more conducive to the healthy and orderly development of Hong Kong’s democratic system.
China’s measures to maintain the long-term stability of Hong Kong have also won broad international support. During the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), 70 countries issued a joint statement urging relevant parties to stop interfering in issues related to Hong Kong and in China’s internal affairs. In addition, another 20-plus countries also voiced support for China’s position and measures on issues related to Hong Kong in their respective remarks at the HRC.
The U.S. side, by choosing to announce the so-called “sanctions” against Chinese officials on the eve of the high-level strategic dialogue between China and the United States in Alaska, sought to use extreme pressure to gain bargaining chips. However, such unilateral “sanctions” were only a bluff. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said previously that the U.S. unilateral sanctions are not adopted by the United Nations, thus having no legal effect in Hong Kong. The HKMA’s position on unilateral U.S. “sanctions” is clear: Hong Kong banks have no legal responsibility to act in concert with those “sanctions.”
After the announcement of the so-called “sanctions” by the United States in 2020, anti-China and destabilizing forces rejoiced, claiming that those sanctions were “significant indicators” and “champagne corks will be opened tonight for celebration.” They also predicted with confidence that “more sanctions will be imposed in the future, not only on senior officials and middle-level officials, but also those who directly endanger the rule of law in Hong Kong.” The truth of the claim that “the United States stands with Hong Kong people” is that the U.S. side will always stand with those who create disturbances and undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
On March 30, the amended Annex I and Annex II to the HKSAR Basic Law were passed at the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC, with a unanimous vote from all committee members in attendance. On March 31, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken certified to U.S. Congress that Hong Kong remains undeserving of “special treatment” by the United States under U.S. law. On April 1, U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong Hanscom Smith raved that Hong Kong elections would not produce “meaningful democratic results.”
The designing and improvement of the electoral system of the HKSAR is China’s internal affair. The amendments enjoy sufficient legal basis and fully embody the spirit of the rule of law in governing the country and Hong Kong by law. The newly amended Annexes I and II of the HKSAR Basic Law are systematic amendments to the method for selecting the HKSAR chief executive and the method for forming the HKSAR Legislative Council, respectively. By focusing on reconstituting the Election Committee and increasing empowerment, the amendments represent an overall planning and design for Hong Kong’s electoral system, which have not only fixed the loopholes and defects of the original system in a timely manner, but also effectively enhanced the broad representation and balanced participation of the electoral system. They have optimized and developed Hong Kong’s democratic system, and have by no means “weakened democracy.”
It is of great significance to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR. By making institutional arrangement at the constitutional level, it combines adherence to the principle of “one country” with respect for the differences between “two systems,” and also combines the upholding of the central government’s overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong with a guarantee of a high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong. It has fully implemented the fundamental principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong,” thus ensuring Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, safeguarding the steady and sustained implementation of the principle of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, and giving Hong Kong people a promising future.
In any country in the world, loyalty to one’s homeland is a basic political ethic that must be observed by civil servants and those who run for public office. In Britain, the electoral system of each region is decided by the central government of Britain. For example, with the highest degree of autonomy, Scotland’s electoral system was set by the Scotland Act passed by the British Parliament in 1998 and amended in 2012.
Xulio Rios, director of the Observatory of Chinese Politics in Spain, said that the electoral reform shows the firm will of the Chinese government to preserve the stability of Hong Kong and not to sacrifice sovereignty under any circumstances. In an interview with Chinese media, George Galloway, a former member of the British Parliament, used a vivid expression to illustrate the need to improve Hong Kong’s electoral system: to remove hidden enemies in the “Trojan horse.”
Hong Kong’s special economic status is protected by the Basic Law and is generally recognized and respected by the international community. After Hong Kong’s return to its motherland, its fiscal and taxation independence, free trade, issuance of its own currency, free flow of capital, and its status as a free port and a separate customs territory have been maintained and consolidated, which fully demonstrates that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy is working well. While claiming to support Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, the U.S. side has cancelled the so-called “special treatment” for Hong Kong. Facts have proved that it is the U.S. side that has undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong’s development achievements stem from the continuous hard work of generations of Hong Kong people and its great advantage of relying on the motherland. They have never been gifts or charity from any foreign country. The cancellation of the so-called “special treatment” by the U.S. side will stop neither Hong Kong’s development and prosperity, nor the general trend of Hong Kong’s continued integration with the motherland to gain more space for development.
Smith denied the significance of improving Hong Kong’s electoral system, because under the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong,” U.S. agents in Hong Kong, namely anti-China and destabilizing forces, will be completely excluded from the governance structure of the HKSAR. This is a huge defeat for those anti-China forces in the United States and the West who stand with such agents.
On April 16, anti-China Hong Kong disruptors, including Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and Martin Lee Chu-ming, were sentenced by a Hong Kong court according to law.
Later, Blinken tweeted that the sentences “are unacceptable,” and called for the release of those disruptors. He also added the hashtag #StandWithHongKong at the end of his tweet.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tweeted that she was “saddened and disturbed” by the sentences, and smeared the sentences as “another sign of Beijing’s assault on the rule of law.”
Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law. The evidence for the illegal activities of those anti-China Hong Kong disruptors is rock solid, and no external force has the right to butt in.
The West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts announced on April 16 to sentence Jimmy Lai to 14 months in prison for organizing and participating in illegal assemblies on Aug. 18, 2019 in Hong Kong Island, and for participating in an unauthorized assembly on Aug. 31, 2019.
The court also heard two other cases that Lai was involved in, including suspected of violating the national security law in Hong Kong and fraud, which were adjourned to June 15 and May 6 respectively.
The prosecutor also filed charges against Lai over collusion with external forces to endanger national security and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice.
Facts showed that such perpetrators as Lai and Lee have colluded with Western anti-China forces for a long time and raised the devil. It was also made public that Lai has built shady connections with the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, a U.S. government-sponsored entity.
During the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014 and the chaos over the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance in 2019, the local Apple Daily newspaper, controlled by Lai, served as a propaganda tool for the anti-China and destabilizing forces.
Even after the implementation of the national security law, the perpetrators still kept “fighting for the United States” under the disguise of media workers. Their repeated breaking of the bottom line has made them a common enemy of the Hong Kong society.
The sentences of those who organized and took part in unauthorized and illegal assemblies are based on sufficient factual evidence, with the procedure totally legal and the verdict made public according to law.
Some U.S. politicians, despite chanting the slogan of upholding international rules, have repeatedly trampled on international law and basic norms governing international relations, and wantonly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs. That fully exposes their entrenched double standards on international rules, the use of which depends on whether they conform to U.S. interests.
When illegal demonstrations broke out in Hong Kong, Pelosi called them “a beautiful sight to behold.” In sharp contrast, she unscrupulously slandered the normal law-enforcement measures by the Hong Kong police, who had shown maximum restraint.
When large-scale riots erupted in Los Angeles in 1992, the same California politician did not meet and incite the organizers of the riots.
In 2021, when the U.S. Capitol Hill was under attack, Pelosi, as a congresswoman, did not view the riot as “a beautiful sight to behold,” but instead condemned the attackers hard. The ironic contrast laid bare the true color of U.S. politicians’ “promise” to firmly stand with the anti-China and destabilizing forces in Hong Kong.
On May 7, Blinken wrote on Twitter that the country “stands with the people of Hong Kong,” while asking the Hong Kong government to immediately release multiple instigators of riots in the city, including Joshua Wong.
On May 6, four instigators of the Hong Kong riots, including Wong, were sentenced to four to 10 months in prison respectively by the District Court of the HKSAR, for knowingly participating in an unauthorized assembly. The facts of the cases are well-founded, and Wong and the others are guilty as charged. The ridiculous demand for the immediate release of the defendants does not respect the rule of law, revealing Washington’s attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
While Hong Kong’s laws always respect and protect rights and freedoms under the Basic Law, these rights and freedoms are not absolute, and shall be built upon the maintenance of public order and the protection of rights and freedoms of others. Wong and the others knew the assembly was unauthorized but still took part in it.
David Gosset, a French expert on international issues and founder of the Europe-China Forum, described certain Western politicians as hypocrites who turned a blind eye to the violence in Hong Kong. He stressed that the violent and extremist acts in the city, which damaged its people’s rights, should be condemned. John Ross, former director of Economic and Business Policy of London, said that he thinks it is a typical example of hypocrisy that certain U.S. politicians play the human rights card only when it comes to Hong Kong affairs.
British barrister Grenville Cross, who started working in Hong Kong in 1978 and served as Hong Kong’s first director of public prosecutions after the city’s return to China, pointed out that international anti-China forces are trying to undermine the practice of “one country, two systems” by destroying the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong in order to contain China’s development.
In 2019, when the Hong Kong government sought to introduce amendments to its extradition laws, anti-China forces in the United States and some other Western countries incited crimes of violence in the city from behind the scenes, insanely challenged the bottom line of “one country, two systems,” gravely undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and put its people under extreme anxiety. In 2021, the U.S. side is still sparing no effort to speak for the criminals, including Wong. This demonstrates again that by claiming it “stands with the people of Hong Kong,” Washington is actually siding with criminals and treating the Hong Kong people as enemies.
On May 27, the Legislative Council of the HKSAR voted overwhelmingly to pass the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021. On May 28, Blinken made rash criticism of the bill, calling for the release of all those charged under the national security law in Hong Kong, and dismissal of charges against them.
Under the improved electoral system in Hong Kong, the composition of the Election Committee and the Legislative Council is more broadly representative, which reflects the interests of all sectors of the Hong Kong society in a comprehensive and balanced manner, safeguards the executive-led political system, ensures that the Legislative Council performs its duties in accordance with the law, and enhances the effectiveness of the HKSAR’s governance. It is also conducive to pushing forward joint social efforts to solve deep-seated problems and promoting people’s livelihood and economic development.
Before and after the adoption of the NPC’s decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR, the central government collected opinions from people from all walks of life in Hong Kong in various ways. On March 15-17, the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, together with the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, held more than 60 symposiums for three consecutive days on the implementation of the NPC’s decision on improving the electoral system of the HKSAR. Together with additional visits and interviews, the relevant views of over 1,000 representatives from all walks of life in Hong Kong were extensively and carefully listened to.
More than 2.38 million signatures were collected in Hong Kong in support of improving the electoral system of the HKSAR during an 11-day campaign starting from March 11. According to a survey by Hong Kong’s think-tank Bauhinia Institute, more than 70 percent of Hong Kong residents believe that the improvement of Hong Kong’s electoral system has enhanced their confidence in Hong Kong’s future. After the passage of the bill, various sectors of the Hong Kong society, including the Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union, the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organizations, expressed support for the bill.
The United States has many electoral laws. In the past two years alone, members of the U.S. Congress have introduced more than 40 bills to improve the U.S. electoral system. On the same day when China’s top legislature announced its agenda for improving Hong Kong’s electoral system, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a “For the People Act” to improve the electoral system and ensure election security.
On March 5, Belarus delivered a joint speech on behalf of over 70 countries at the 46th session of the UNHRC, emphasizing that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and should not be interfered by external forces. Ambassador Yury Ambrazevich, head of the Belarus mission to the UN in Geneva, said in an interview after the meeting that “we emphasized that Hong Kong is an integral part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China’s internals affairs,” stressing that China has the sole authority and responsibility to make any decisions, including on improving Hong Kong’s electoral system, to promote Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.
Judging from its call for releasing all those charged and dropping charges against them under the national security law in Hong Kong, the U.S. position is very clear: the United States stands “firmly” in opposition to the national security law in Hong Kong, which has guaranteed the transition from chaos to order in Hong Kong and effectively restored the sense of security of Hong Kong citizens.
On June 3, Blinken issued a statement on the website of U.S. Department of State, claiming that the United States will “stand with the people of China as they demand that their government respect universal human rights.” On the following day, he tweeted a call for “the immediate release” of some people in Hong Kong that were arrested.
During the disturbance in Hong Kong following the proposed ordinance amendments in 2019, anti-China extremist and secessionist groups supported by the United States did not pursue human rights, but trampled on human rights in an attempt to seize the jurisdiction in Hong Kong and subvert the state power.
From June 2019 to mid-March 2020, there were more than 1,400 demonstrations and public gatherings in Hong Kong, many of which eventually turned into serious violent incidents, such as throwing petrol bombs, vandalism, and burning shops. Rioters attacked police stations and officers, besieged innocent citizens, doxed people who expressed opinions different from theirs, destroyed subways and public facilities, paralyzed airports, blocked traffic and “occupied” university campuses, posing a long-term grave threat to public safety and order in Hong Kong.
Data showed that the number of crime cases in Hong Kong had been on a downward trend in the past years before the “Black Terror” in 2019, but the social unrest reversed the trend, as the number rose by 9 percent and 7 percent respectively in 2019 and 2020.
Luo Changqing, a 70-year-old cleaner in Hong Kong, was hit by rioters and died of serious wounds. A Hong Kong resident surnamed Lee was poured with flammable liquid and set ablaze, following an argument with rioters who were thrashing public facilities. He suffered from burns on almost half of his body, and was once in a critical condition. Chan Tze-chin, a Hong Kong lawyer, was surrounded and viciously beaten up by rioters after he berated them for thrashing shops in a busy shopping area in Causeway Bay, and suffered multiple physical injuries. More than half of the stores of Best Mart 360, the Hong Kong-based snack chain, were vandalized in the social unrest.
Yonden Lhatoo, chief news editor at the South China Morning Post, wrote in an article in 2020: “So when Americans take to the streets in an eruption of rage against systemic racism that has afflicted their country since its founding, they are ‘rioters’ who deserve to be shot dead? But when radicals in Hong Kong go on the rampage, hurling petrol bombs, destroying public property … they are mighty champions of freedom?”
The United States itself has terrible human rights records. The Russian Foreign Ministry on July 9 released country reports on human rights situation, which point out that the United States continues to grossly violate human rights both inside the country and beyond its shores. The freedom of the press in the United States, to which Washington declares adherence, is sliding into complete degradation, and the level of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other manifestations of discrimination and xenophobia continue to rise.
The human rights situation in China is at its best in history. Since the national security law in Hong Kong came into effect more than a year ago, human rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong citizens have suffered “zero damage.” If the United States really wants to “stand with” the Chinese people who “pursue” human rights, it should side with the overwhelming majority, not the other way around.
In June, Smith said in an interview that the imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong had created an “atmosphere of coercion” that threatens both the city’s freedoms and its standing as an international business hub.
The disturbance in Hong Kong following the proposed ordinance amendments in June 2019 dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood.
In 2019, Hong Kong’s economy posted the first negative growth in 10 years. Official data showed that around half of service industries recorded year-on-year decreases in business revenues, as accommodation services and retail industries dropped 14.3 percent and 11.1 percent respectively, with tourist visits to Hong Kong slumping, and unemployment in retails, hospitality and catering sectors staying high.
Since the national security law in Hong Kong took effect by the end of June 2020, the society has returned to the right track and residents have lived in peace, opening up a new situation in Hong Kong where order replaces chaos.
In the first quarter of 2021, the city’s number of crimes dropped about 10 percent year-on-year, while gross domestic product (GDP) saw a 7.9 percent year-on-year increase.
In June, the International Monetary Fund released a report that reaffirmed Hong Kong’s position as an international financial center.
According to the World Investment Report 2021 released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Hong Kong remained the world’s third largest destination for foreign direct investment in 2020.
The national security law in Hong Kong only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. It is designed to deter and punish a handful of criminals seriously jeopardizing national security, and to protect the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Hong Kong people.
All efforts and law enforcement relating to safeguarding national security will be conducted in strict accordance with legal provisions, mandates and procedures. The legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms, including those of speech, of the press, of publication and of assembly that Hong Kong residents enjoy under the law. It will enable them to better exercise their lawful rights and freedoms in a secure environment.
The legislation, since taking effect, has better ensured the city’s high degree of autonomy in accordance with law, and created conditions for resolving deep-rooted problems concerning Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood. It also contributes to Hong Kong’s rule-of-law and business environment, addresses the concerns in the business communities on social turbulences, and creates better conditions for people around the world who are willing to work, invest and live in Hong Kong.
Washington, while chanting the slogan of “stand with Hong Kong people,” has in fact engaged in actions against the national security law in Hong Kong and imposing the so-called “sanctions.” Such self-contradictory behaviour exposed its hypocrisy and despicableness.
On June 25, the White House put out on its website a statement regarding the closing down of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, in which it falsely accused China of suppressing press freedom.
The Apple Daily, under the cloak of a media outlet, had long engaged in illegal acts of harming the country and destabilizing Hong Kong, seriously violating the journalistic ethics and jeopardizing the media environment of Hong Kong.
The newspaper had long been engaged in concocting fake news to mislead the public. During the turbulence over proposed ordinance amendments in Hong Kong in 2019, the newspaper produced a flurry of fake news and peddled wrong values to perplex the public, disseminate “anti-police” and “anti-China” remarks, and instigate “Black Violence.”
Hong Kong is a society governed by rule of law and everyone is equal before the law. No one has extra-legal privileges, and no institution is an extra-legal entity. Hong Kong police act against individuals and companies suspected of endangering national security in strict accordance with the law, and their actions are a just move to crack down on crimes and maintain the rule of law and social order.
Those who describe moves on an individual news organization and on those in charge of an individual news organization as acts to crack down on press freedom have ulterior motives and are seeking to talk black into white.
It is the United States which has brutally suppressed the media and restricted press freedom. Analyses by The Guardian and Netherlands-based investigative journalism website Bellingcat showed from May 26, 2020 to June 2, 2020 alone, there were 148 arrests or attacks on journalists covering protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd, among which 34 instances involved officers physically assaulting journalists, and 33 instances involved journalists being arrested or detained. A female photojournalist was left blinded in the left eye by a police projectile during one of the protests. In 2021, the U.S. government forcibly shut down more than 30 foreign news media websites.
German writer Michael Lueders has revealed in his new book “The Hypocritical Superpower” that the U.S. government and its interest groups are apt at influencing and shaping public opinion by selecting information and polarizing public views, so that people are brainwashed without any realization. Washington’s repeated provocations in this respect reveal that it is in fact a mastermind of troubles and a public opinion manipulator.
In fact, the press freedom in Hong Kong has not been damaged, but has been consolidated. At present, there are 93 local, 69 overseas and 39 online media organizations registered with the government, respectively, showing increases from a year ago. The press and the general public exercise the right of supervision every day and enjoy the freedom to criticize the administration of the HKSAR government. There is no obstruction for overseas media to interview people with different positions.
On July 7, the White House announced the extension of the so-called “national emergency with respect to Hong Kong” and of relevant Hong Kong-related sanctions for one year, and continued with the cancellation of preferential treatment for Hong Kong.
The so-called “national emergency with respect to Hong Kong,” a measure announced by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on July 14, 2020, is a gross interference in China’s internal affairs. The extension of the so-called “national emergency” also marked the first time that Joe Biden, since taking office as U.S. president, continued with Trump’s thinking on Hong Kong from the perspective of policy implementation, and once again publicly intervened in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs. Such an act seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
Hong Kong residents celebrate the passage of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Causeway Bay of south China’s Hong Kong, June 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Shen)
Hong Kong had always been an excuse for Washington to put pressure on Beijing during the Trump administration. At the end of June 2020, the Law on Safeguarding National Security in HKSAR was promulgated and implemented. Trump then signed an executive order, declaring that the United States immediately entered a “national emergency” on the grounds that the situation in Hong Kong would pose a “threat” to the national security, economy and foreign policy of the United States. At the same time, the country also ended its special treatment for Hong Kong. Previously, Hong Kong enjoyed treatment that many cities in the Chinese mainland did not have, mainly in immigration, import and export control, tourism and economy.
The Biden administration followed the Trump administration’s wrong acts on Hong Kong, extending the so-called “national emergency,” and continued with its outrageous sanctions against China.
Sanctions on Hong Kong, however, will surely backfire and bite the United States. Official data released by China last year showed that there were around 85,000 U.S. citizens and more than 1,300 U.S. enterprises in Hong Kong, including almost all of America’s major financial firms. Over the years, the United States has gained a huge trade surplus from its trade with Hong Kong, and its interests in Hong Kong have been deep and direct. Sanctions will bring “complexities” to U.S. enterprises in Hong Kong, subjecting their normal operations to political risks.
In as early as 2020, there was wide condemnation around the world against the so-called “sanctions” imposed on Hong Kong by countries such as the United States. Chester Humphrey, president of the Senate of Grenada, pointed out that the United States just wanted to divert the attention of the American people from domestic problems, and that its “sanctions” against other countries were illegal. Patricio Giusto, director of the Sino-Argentine Observatory, said that the so-called “sanctions” will not pose a substantial threat and have no legal basis, which once again exposed the “double standards” of U.S. politicians.
“Standing with Hong Kong” on one hand and relentlessly sticking to sanctioning it on the other is the absurd logic of U.S. politicians and a logic that no one, including Hong Kong people, can understand.
On July 10, the U.S. Department of State posted a statement issued by 21 members of the so-called “Media Freedom Coalition” on its website, expressing “strong concerns” about the judicial organs of the HKSAR handling the case of Apple Daily according to law, and falsely claiming that “the use of the National Security Law to suppress journalism is a serious and negative step.”
Freedom is not laissez-faire. Scientific rationality, legal order and international rules are the foundation of freedom. As Montesquieu said in The Spirit of Law, “liberty is the right to do what the law permits.” Any freedom has boundaries. Even the so-called “free countries” have also defined clear forbidden zones and restrictions for freedom, and it is never allowed to break through the bottom line of the legal system. “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic,” said U.S. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in a judgement in 1919.
Constitutions of over 100 countries in the world stipulate that the exercise of basic rights and freedoms must not endanger national security. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights clarifies that the rights to freedom of belief, expression, peaceful assembly and public trial must be subject to necessary restrictions on grounds of national security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others. The European Convention on Human Rights has similar provisions. The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries have also established strict legal systems to safeguard national security, and have no mercy in cracking down on criminal acts endangering national security.
In the United States, although the First Amendment to the Constitution stipulates that freedom of speech and press should be ensured, the country still set up state agencies that conduct oversight over on the media. The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for issuing licenses to radio and television stations in the United States and imposes basic restrictions on program content. The U.S. Supreme Court has also said that speech that “directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to produce such action” is not protected.
In Germany, denial of the Holocaust and other forms of incitement to hatred against certain ethnic groups are punishable by up to five years in prison. In August 2018, the German Federal Constitutional Court said in a ruling that punishing the denial of Nazi genocide is fundamentally in line with the constitutional provisions on freedom of speech. In France, the current Law on the Freedom of the Press clearly stipulates that damaging the basic interests of the country, abetting crimes, slandering and insulting, and spreading false news through the media are all illegal and criminal acts, and must be punished. Penalties include fines, imprisonment, and confiscation of publications.
Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is taken by the police to the headquarters of Apple Daily for investigation in Hong Kong, south China, Aug. 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
Hong Kong police arrested and prosecuted Apple Daily and its personnel and froze related properties for colluding with external forces and jeopardizing national security. These actions are a necessary and legitimate move to safeguard the rule of law in Hong Kong, and has nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech and the press. The United States gathered some members of the so-called “Media Freedom Coalition” to beautify and excuse the anti-China and destabilizing Hong Kong media outlets and their employees in an attempt to put pressure on China. Its actions seriously desecrated the spirit of law and seriously violated the conscience of the media.
Apple Daily is also a mirror, which not only reflects the ending of the anti-China and destabilizing Hong Kong forces, but also clearly reflects the “double standards” of the U.S. side in dealing with the Hong Kong issue. We would like to ask, are Hong Kong people willing to stand with such politicians and governments?
On July 16, as a bid to smear Hong Kong’s business environment, the U.S. government issued a so-called “business advisory” to caution U.S. businesses about “emerging risks” to their operations and activities in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Washington imposed sanctions on seven officials of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR.
The U.S. advisory, which attempts to discredit the national security law in Hong Kong while stating that Hong Kong is still a popular investment and trade location for the United States and that it provides competitive financial, trade and professional services, is self-contradictory and illogical.
Investors’ moves are an important indicator of Hong Kong’s business environment. More than a year after the implementation of the national security law, the initial public offering funds raised in Hong Kong exceeded 500 billion Hong Kong dollars (64.35 billion U.S. dollars), representing an increase of more than 50 percent year-on-year. Total deposits in Hong Kong banks rose by over 5 percent from a year ago.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said that the city has a crucial role to play as an international business hub, and that it “remains a critical and vibrant facilitator of trade and financial flow between the East and West.” Jim Thompson, chairman and founder of logistics company Crown Worldwide Group, said the U.S. administration is making it “harder for American investors to do business in the city, which is like putting handcuffs on them … This is so sad.”
Experts and scholars believe that the so-called “business advisory” from the U.S. government will not affect corporate decisions — while the United States regularly issues similar warnings, businesses make their own judgements. The enterprises did not withdraw from Hong Kong even when black-clad rioters were running wild in the city, and they are less likely to do so now as Hong Kong’s social order has been restored and the city’s development has been back on track under the protection of the national security law.
The stepped-up sanctions by the United States have already backfired and bitten the country itself. U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong totaled 297 billion dollars from 2009 to 2018. When the sanctions were imposed, U.S. trade and finance were the first to take a hit.
In a Foreign Affairs article published mid-July, former U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong Kurt W. Tong wrote that the U.S. Treasury Department knows “sanctions on major Chinese banks could trigger significant instability in the international payment system, by interrupting the huge volume of financial transactions between the world’s two largest economies,” which would “in turn harm U.S. financial markets and the perceived reliability of the U.S.-centric global payments system.”
When even the American people are unwilling to stand with their own government, the lie of U.S. politicians that they “stand with the people of Hong Kong” naturally falls apart.
U.S. politicians have been constantly claiming to defend Hong Kong’s human rights and freedom and “stand with the people of Hong Kong.” But actions speak louder than words. All their slogans have proved to be nothing but lies.
All Chinese people including people in Hong Kong have already clearly seen what these politicians are defending is not the Hong Kong people’s human rights and freedom, but the “freedom” of a handful of rioters to disrupt Hong Kong’s stability and endanger China’s national security, and the “freedom” of these politicians to continue interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and containing China.
Radical protesters attack police officers in Tsuen Wan in the western New Territories of south China’s Hong Kong, Aug. 25, 2019. (Xinhua)
Under the pretext of democracy and human rights, these politicians have been offering real endorsements for the rioters, which fully exposes the double standards of these U.S. politicians. They condemned the Capitol riot with utmost rage, but nevertheless called similar acts in Hong Kong “a beautiful sight to behold.” They have enacted the world’s most thorough national security law at home, but nevertheless tried to smear China’s parallel efforts to plug the security hole in Hong Kong.
In the name of “press freedom,” they are interfering with and undermining the rule of law in Hong Kong. Amid the closure of Apple Daily, those U.S. politicians fully exposed their tricks to smear others. They tried to turn some media organizations into extra-legal entities for anti-China forces to disrupt Hong Kong and contain China. By making waves on Hong Kong issues, the U.S. side has revealed itself as the “black hand” in stirring up opposition and controlling public opinion. The so-called “press freedom” is nothing but a fig leaf for their self interests.
They twisted facts, deliberately smeared the rule of law in Hong Kong and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs. “Patriots administering Hong Kong” is the trend of the times and the aspiration of the Hong Kong people. Improving Hong Kong’s electoral system is necessary for the sustained and healthy development of Hong Kong’s democratic system. When peace and stability were finally restored in Hong Kong, and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens were better protected in a secure environment, the United States leveled accusations and attacked Hong Kong’s efforts to improve its electoral system, and continued to demonize the national security law in Hong Kong, which fully exposes Washington’s hegemonic nature.
While habitually bullying others and wielding the big stick of sanctions, those U.S. politicians have in fact exhausted their tactics. For them, only a chaotic Hong Kong serves their interests. The more stable Hong Kong is, the more anxious they will be. And now, their “agents” were arrested. Their plans for disturbing the city have failed. No matter how much pressure or how many rounds of sanctions the United States can impose, they will be nothing but waste paper.
All in all, some U.S. politicians’ concern about Hong Kong’s democracy is a sham. Their true intention is to meddle in Hong Kong’s politics and China’s internal affairs. Their real purpose is to use Hong Kong as a tool to realize their political interests and contain China’s development. The so-called “standing with the Hong Kong people” is nothing but a cover to deceive the world and reflects the hypocrisy of the U.S. politicians. What they are doing is to make enemies with the Hong Kong people. Those politicians are advised to stop repeating these cliches.
In 1840, Britain opened the door of China with ships and guns, and Hong Kong was gradually occupied by Britain. For more than 100 years since then, the Chinese people have waged indomitable struggles for national liberation, national independence and social progress. Today, the Chinese nation has made a great leap from standing up, getting prosperous to becoming strong, and their effort to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process. China has become an important force in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and its relations with the rest of the world have undergone tremendous changes.
With the implementation of a series of effective measures, including the national security law, Hong Kong’s social order has been restored, its development has returned to the right track, and the city has opened a new chapter with good governance. Hong Kong is getting more stable and prosperous with a better implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle. This is the strongest response to those U.S. politicians who slander Beijing’s Hong Kong policy.
No one can stop Hong Kong from reclaiming its glorious past. The Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave them, and the cause of “one country, two systems” will never be obstructed or undermined by any external force. Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people. History has proved countless times that the final victory will always belong to the indomitable Chinese people. ■