Hong Kong’s electoral reform bill has been introduced in the city’s legislature, setting in motion changes that will give Beijing greater control over the process while reducing the number of directly elected representatives. The bill is part of efforts to rein in political protests and opposition in Hong Kong, which is part of China but has had a more liberal political system since the 1997 handover from Britain.
The US State Department released an update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, identifying two dozen Chinese officials the United States accuses of reducing the former British colony’s autonomy when National People’s Congress unilaterally approved legislation last week to overhaul its electoral system.
American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End
28 JANUARY 2021
Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same.
The Biden Administration is following in the footsteps of the former Trump one by exercising hypocrisy towards unauthorized and violent protests. Both his and Trump’s condemned the violent storming of the US Capitol earlier this month, yet neither has any compunctions about endorsing similar destabilizations whenever they happen in Hong Kong or Russia. The former administration gleefully supported unauthorized and violent protests in China’s Special Autonomous Region against its national security legislation, while the present one is doing the exact same thing regarding imprisoned anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.
That individual was recently detained for probation violations upon his return to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment after being mysteriously poisoned over the summer. He and some Western governments accuse the Russian one of attempting to assassinate him using the banned chemical weapon Novichok, a charge which Moscow vehemently denies. Navalny called for his compatriots to protest nationwide on Saturday in response to his detainment, which several tens of thousands of them did. Approximately three thousand people were detained for participating in these unauthorized protests, which quickly turned violent.
In the run-up to those riots, the Russian government stronglycriticizedits American counterpart for publishing the locations and times of unauthorized protests on its embassy website. It laterslammedembassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross for describing the security services’ response as a “concerted campaign to suppress free speech [and] peaceful assembly.” It should be noted that Russian media has shared footage of some participantsattackingpolice and evenbeating upcounter-demonstrators. Russia was also shocked that the unauthorized protests were being advertised to minors throughsocial media.
It’s very disappointing that the Biden Administration is picking up where its predecessor left off, albeit by directing weaponized protests against Russia instead of China like Trump’s did, at least for now. America is further sacrificing its already dwindling soft power standing across the world through such blatant displays of hypocrisy. It cannot condemn similar manifestations of violence disguised as protest at home while enthusiastically supporting such instances abroad. In addition, the Biden Administration’sdemandto unconditionally release Navalny and the protesters is a textbook example of meddling in another state’s affairs.
Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be all that surprising for observers. Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same. This in turn ensures policy continuation in the strategic sense, though it can of course be altered depending on the political will that the president at the time has to do so, like how Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal for example.
Evidently, President Biden and his team had no such will to stop their predecessor’s plans to support — and arguably even organize to a certain extent — this latest anti-Russian destabilization. They’re notorious Russophobes in the political sense who wouldn’t ever consider the pragmatism of easing pressure on Russia or the soft power benefits inherent in having a consistent stance towards unauthorized and violent protests. This is the absolutely wrong policy to practice since there’s never any excuse for violating international law. It also further erodes the country’s image abroad and could lead to unintended international consequences.
Whether someone’s protesting against national security legislation, allegedly rigged elections, or for the release of a detained blogger, they must always do so peacefully and follow the law. Illegally assembling and committing acts of violence against the security services and counter-protesters, especially while encouraging impressionable youth to de facto function as human shields, is absolutely unacceptable. It’s all the worse when a foreign power is politically supporting these events and even publicly organizing them through its embassy website. If President Biden is serious about change, then he must immediately stop these double standards.
The Chinese mission to the European Union (EU) stressed that Hong Kong police’s recent arrests of activists suspected of subversion are China’s internal affairs, which the EU side has no right to interfere in. The EU urged authorities to respect Hong Kong’s rule of law and democratic principles and called for the immediate release of those arrested.
HONG KONG: China opposed and strongly condemns the so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Law concocted by the US which targets Beijing over national security law imposed by China on the semi-autonomous region. The law criminalizes any anti-China activity in Hong Kong, and it was prompted by year-long anti-government protests that rocked Hong Kong last year.
Protesters wanted to march against China’s imposition of a sweeping national security law on June 30 and demand the return of 12 Hong Kong people who were arrested at sea by Chinese authorities in August as they tried to reach self-ruled Taiwan. Police had banned the protest, citing coronavirus-related restrictions on group gatherings and violence at previous marches.
Nearly 300 people were arrested during protests in Hong Kong on Sunday, the scheduled date for a legislative election, postponed because of the pandemic, but many in the pro-democracy camp accused the government of stalling to avoid the defeat of establishment candidates. The protests were also an expression of public anger at a draconian security law imposed by Beijing that is silencing dissent.
HONG KONG: Hong Kongers rushed to buy pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily in a show of support for its owner, who was arrested as police rounded up critics of China. A crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong has gathered pace since China imposed a sweeping security law in June.
The United States has ordered China to close its Houston consulate. In retaliation, China is considering shutting down the US consulate in Wuhan. The Trump Administration has already ramped up pressure on China on a wide range of issues: imposing sanctions on Chinese officials over policies in Tibet and Xinjiang; downgraded relations with Hong Kong after China implemented a new security law; and declaring Beijing’s pursuit of territory and resources in the South China Sea as illegal.
Beijing’s ambassador to London has warned Britain against stationing a new aircraft carrier in the Pacific, arguing it would be a very dangerous move. The possibility of basing the carrier there more permanently comes as tensions between London and Beijing are rising over a host of issues.