When people praise the anti-Beijing Hong Kong protests, it’s typically vague as to which forms of Chinese oppression that they believe are being rightly resisted. The supposedly heinous extradition bill-which was proposed in response to a case where a man murdered his girlfriend and wasn’t allowed to be prosecuted because he had committed the crime outside of Hong Kong-isn’t even on the table anymore. So which specific Chinese transgressions are now provoking the continued efforts at insurrection in Hong Kong?
Despite the vague claims that China is suppressing “democracy,” the reality is that the problems in Hong Kong are due not to too much Beijing influence in the island but too little. The island’s government is run by a capitalist kleptocratic oligarchy that’s carried out damaging policies like the deliberate increases in real estate prices, and there's no substance to the claim that China is in any way exerting its influence to make life worse for Hong Kong’s residents.
Since the grievances of the protesters are based in legitimate hardships, their intentions are theoretically good. But Hong Kong’s U.S.-fundedpolitical advocacy groups and Western propaganda outlets have propagated the idea that China is to blame for the island’s decline in living standards, which has persuaded many people in Hong Kong to side with the colonialist, anti-socialist agenda of the anti-Beijing protests. As a result, these protesters have become dangerous disruptors who carry out aggressive violence to advance their right-wing goals.
As the staff of Fight Back News wrote this month, “The Hong Kong protests are an attack on socialism.” They explain that:
The Hong Kong protests are absolutely not driven by or in the interests of the working class, whether in Hong Kong or mainland China. For one, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) has come out strongly against these protests. As one of the largest labor organizations in the region, the Federation represents 410,000 workers in transportation, logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction and other major industries. Many of their 251 affiliated unions have actively campaigned against the protesters' calls for a ‘general strike’.
Nor have working-class neighborhoods in Hong Kong joined in the months of rioting and unrest. An NPR investigation published on August 14 looked at the North Point district, one of the city’s largest working-class neighborhoods, and interviewed construction worker Xiao Yongli. Along with his neighbors, many of whom are migrant workers, Xiao warned protesters against coming into their community.
The protests serve the interests both of Hong Kong’s billionaires (who would be in better standing if China’s authority were entirely gone from the island), and of the U.S./NATO empire (which has been using its political advocacy organizations in Hong Kong to undermine China’s authority since the start of Hong Kong’s break from Britain’s authority). It’s undeniable that the protesters are aligned with this imperialist agenda; the Civil Human Rights Front, a core organizer of the protests that has ties to the CIA front group the National Endowment for Democracy, supports one vocal faction that openly advocates for outside intervention from the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan in order to “liberate” Hong Kong.
The anti-Beijing protesters are advancing this repugnant agenda through the use of right-wing iconography and propaganda, as is reinforced by the Civil Human Rights Front’s use of the far-right slogan “Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!” The protesters have reflected these kinds of appeals to fascistic Western chauvinism by calling upon Donald Trump to “liberate Hong Kong,” by waving British and American flags, by displaying the American far-right symbol Pepe the frog, and by deploying racist slurs against Han Chinese.
Like has been the case with past U.S.-manufactured “color revolutions,” the Hong Kong protesters have also been using their U.S. funding to carry out violent protests. Commentator Thomas Hon Wing Polin recounted last month that:
Today, July 1, is the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with China. On the auspicious occasion, a 1,500-strong mob of young Thugs for Democracy are laying siege to the local Legislative Council, battering down its reinforced-glass doors with homemade weapons (photos below). Police anti-riot squads are treating them with kid gloves, like misbehaving toddlers.
Meanwhile, during official HKSAR Establishment Day ceremonies, embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged to be more “understanding” and “accommodating” towards young HKers. In future policy-making, she said, the government would take greater account of their views and aspirations. Lam’s promise echoed the one made just two days earlier by her No. 2, chief secretary Matthew Cheung.
This is how the U.S. empire is gaslighting those who challenge its narratives about Hong Kong. These and other violent actions from the protesters have been done with the intent of provoking the police into responding with force, which can then be used to vilify China’s police and win sympathy for the protests. Even though the far-right protesters and their capitalist backers are the ones instigating the violence, they’re convincing people that China is the one to see as the villain.
In the typical fashion of a modern American media psy-op, headlines throughout the American press have been exploiting this narrative about Chinese repression by invoking another powerful image within the mythos of Western propaganda: Tiananmen Square. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, and other Western outlets have been frequently warning about a “second Tiananmen” soon happening in response to the noble efforts of Hong Kong’s “pro-democracy” protesters.
And like was the case during the events in Tiananmen Square thirty years ago, the violence has been blamed on the police when the U.S.-backed protesters have in fact been the instigators. As Hon Wing Polin observed, the police anti-riot squads have been treating the protesters “with kid gloves, like misbehaving toddlers.” The same was roughly the case in Tiananmen Square, despite the decades-long U.S. effort to falsely portray the event as a Chinese-created “massacre.”
If the protesters and their backers in the Civil Human Rights Front get their wish for a U.S./NATO intervention in Hong Kong, they should be prepared to handle the consequences of a potential war between the U.S. and China. In such a conflict, the U.S. would meet its match after so confidently bullying the People’s Republic of China; on China’s side in the war, there would be a rising country with vast military power, and on America’s side there would be a rapidly declining empire which has spread its resources so thin that it’s estimated to be unable to win a war against China and its allies. Going forward, the U.S. shouldn’t act too recklessly in its aggressions, or it might get what it wishes for.
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