According to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the US will help “legitimate governments” in Latin America, in order to prevent protests from “morphing into riots”.
From what we are seeing this “legitimization” may be expanded to rest of the world. Because Washington-instigated destabilizing unrest goes on throughout the world. We may as well call it “Operation Condor 2.0 – Expanded”. It promises to become devastating, oppressive and murderous on all Continents. A transformation from whatever ‘freedom’ may have existed to neoliberal dictatorships bending towards neofascism.
The original “Operation Condor” was a campaign by the United States to bring ‘order’ into her backyard; i.e., Latin America. In other words, it was a repressive move that started in 1968 and concluded around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We are talking about more than 20 years of right-wing repression especially, but not exclusively directed, on the Southern Cone of South America.
It included such military dictators like Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina. He came to power in 1976 by a US supported military coup, deposing Isabel Martinez de Perón. Comandante Videla stayed in power during five years until 1981, a period in which he brutally oppressed Argentinians, especially the opposition. It is reported that during this period more than 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ – never to return. They were tortured and killed. Some of the dissidents were dropped from helicopters into the Rio de Plata.
Another, better known dictator was Augusto Pinochet, who was directly helped by the CIA and then President Nixon’s National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger – to overturn the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in a bloody coup on 11 September 1973. Pinochet introduced as a first in Latin America neoliberal economics through a group of economists from the Economic School of Chicago, the so-called “Chicago Boys”. The resulting austerity brought extreme poverty and famine to Chileans. The ensuing 17 years were a horror, with over 40,000 people ‘disappeared’ or outright murdered.
Other countries that went through one or several “Operation Condor” cleansings, included Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and possibly others. It was a despicable and deadly period for Latin America. In all, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed and some 400,00 taken as political prisoners.
Secretary Pompeo’s words could not be clearer. He added that protests in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador reflect the “character of legitimate democratic governments and democratic expression. We’ll work with legitimate governments to prevent protests from morphing into riots and violence that don’t reflect the democratic will of the people.”
Not to forget any invented villains, he added, the US will “continue to support countries trying to prevent Cuba and Venezuela from hijacking those protests.” He went on and accused Russia of “malign” influence in Latin America and of “propping up” the democratically elected Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro.
Such remarks come after the US-led November 10 military coup in Bolivia. Amazing that nobody dares stand up and answer him. Are all afraid?
And this especially in the light of having in Bolivia now an opposition dictator, the self-declared interim President (much like Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó),Jeanine Añez, who acts with impunity following fascists and racist orders from Washington – indiscriminately killing her own country-women and men – who happen to be indigenous people. Although she promised new elections, Añez has not set a date, but rather is undoing almost everything Evo Morales has achieved for the people of Bolivia, by privatizing public assets and services, as well as abolishing social safety nets by decree.
Pompeo concluded by saying there remains an “awful lot of work to do” in the region, meaning Latin America as the US’s “back yard.” He also warned against “predatory Chinese activities” in the region, which he claimed can lead countries to make deals that “seem attractive” but are “bad” for citizens.
The new repression that we see in Latin America is not homogenous. In Chile at the surface it looks like the protests started over a metro-fare hike of the equivalent of 4 cents (US-dollar cents) – and then expanded violently to oppose political and economic injustice in Chile, directed against Chile’s neoliberal President, Sebastian Piñera. In Bolivia protests are against an US-induced military coup; in Ecuador they are directed against an austerity-inflicting IMF loan, in Colombia, they appeared suddenly against the corruption and injustice of the Iván Duque presidency; and in Brazil, against the neofascist austerity reforms by Jair Bolsonaro. Copy cats? What’s good for our neighbors, is good for us? – I don’t think so.
It looks much more like a concerted effort by the US to enhance and bolster protests from whatever side they come, to be able to install fully repressive governments, of course, with the help of the US and her secret services – funded by the usual NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and other NGOs that would help install within the respective governments strong 5th Columns, so as to detect early warning signals and crackdown in time on any opposition.
“Operation Condor 2.0 Expanded” – Expanded refers to similar violent protests going on in other parts of the world – practically simultaneously. Take Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and now France. No matter from which side they come repression and state of siege, if necessary, are of the order – total repression, that is. All with the help of the US – and, not to forget NATO. This is certainly a key justification to keep NATO alive — to avoid opposition to spread and to risk abolishing the faltering US hegemony.
We are, indeed, in the midst of a new “Operation Condor”; or “Operation Condor 2.0 – Expanded”. Full repression worldwide. In preparation of the next planned global recession, planned by the US-led western banking and financial sector, a recession that will likely outdo whatever we have known in the recent past, and make the 2008 /09 downfall look like a walk in the park. The repression now, it is hoped, will prevent people from going on the barricades when they suffer the next cut in salaries, pensions and other social services, already at an unlivable level. Authoritarianism and tyranny must be efficient and total with a para-military police, enhanced by the armed forces, if necessary. It’s going to be another transfer of assets and social capital from the bottom to the top.
This has been sensed perhaps intuitively by the French – who have been protesting in the form of Yellow Vests against Macron’s regime for more than a year – and now in the form of a CGT- syndicate organized open-ended general strike. Repression is massive – an estimated 1.5 million people in the streets of the major French cities, all public transportation disrupted. There have even been rumors that the police forces may also join the strike, because they realize they are part of the oppressed and abused by Macron’s neoliberal austerity policies. This is reflected by the four times higher suicide rates among police officers, as compared to the average French.
China and Russia beware. The rogue nation and bulldozer won’t stop necessarily in front of your borders. To the contrary, they may seek any entry they can get – as they are already doing in China with Hong Kong, not letting go despite the various concessions already made by HK’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, supported by Beijing; and also in the autonomous Region of Xinjiang, with the mostly Muslim Uyghur people, many of whom are being recruited by the CIA across the border from Afghanistan, trained and funded to cause destabilizing unrest.
In view of all of this, President Putin’s recent overture to Israel, especially to PM Netanyahu, is worrisome. Netanyahu is by all accounts part of the repressive wave engulfing our Mother Earth, and, in addition, with his cruel policies against Palestine, he may be considered a mass-murderer.
A new and devastating investigation by Buzzfeed News has revealed that WWF’s director & board had detailed evidence of “widespread” atrocities being committed by rangers it funds and equips, but kept the information secret.
It’s the latest finding from a Buzzfeed investigation that has brought to light a series of secret WWF reports, proving the organization has known for years that the rangers it funds in central Africa commit gross human rights abuses among the local population.
Survival International has been highlighting these abuses, among the Baka and Bayaka people, for more than three decades, but WWF has always claimed ignorance.
It’s now proven that the highest levels of management in WWF have known about the abuses, but continued funding and equipping the rangers, and pushing for the creation of yet more protected areas on Baka and Bayaka land.Congolese officials hand the top official (and WWF employee) of Salonga National Park an assault rifle. Some of the park’s guards have been accused of gang rape, torture and murder.
– April 2015: WWF commissioned an indigenous expert to prepare a report on the charity’s work in Cameroon. He found WWF “shared responsibility” for ranger violence.
– July 2017: WWF sent a consultant to a proposed new park, Messok Dja, in the Rep. of Congo. He found villagers were afraid of “repression from eco-guards.”
– January 2018: WWF asked UK-based human rights lawyer Paul Chiy to follow up on the 2015 Cameroon report. He finds “valid” and “grossly understated” evidence of human rights abuses.
– December 2018: WWF asked Chiy to conduct another assessment into parks it funds in Dem. Rep. of Congo, Rep. of Congo and Central African Republic. Its contents are unknown.
– March 2019: A confidential report commissioned by WWF and the Congolese government finds evidence that WWF-backed rangers raped pregnant women and tortured villagers.
The charity is now being investigated by authorities in the U.S., UK and Germany. Survival is campaigning for the organization to scrap its plans for a new protected area, Messok Dja, in the Congo, which does not have the Baka’s consent.
On Saturday September 7, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a prisoner swap which has brought hope of improved relations between the two countries and an end to the 5-year long conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
A peace accord is being planned for later this month in Normandy involving Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
Ukraine’s newly elected comedian president Volodymyr Zelensky called the prisoner exchange a “first step” in ending the war in Eastern Ukraine, which has killed an estimated 13,000 civilians.
The Ukraine War remains largely unknown to the American public even though the United States has had a great stake in it.
The war started after a coup d’états in Ukraine in February 2014, which overthrew the democratically elected pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
In a subsequent referendum, 89% in Donetsk and 96% in Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine voted for independence, which the new government of Petro Poroshenko government did not accept.
The United States was a heavy backer of the coup and dirty war that unfolded in the East.
Victoria Nuland, the head of the State Department’s European desk, traveled to Ukraine three times during the protests that triggered the coup, handing out cookies to demonstrators.
She told U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in a telephone conversation that was tapped and later leaked that Arseniy Yatsenyuk, neoliberal head of the “Fatherland” Party, should be Prime Minister as he was thought to have the “economic” and “governing experience.”
Nuland further revealed that the U.S. had invested over $5 billion in “democracy promotion” in Ukraine since 1991 through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was carrying on the kind of work previously undertaken by the CIA during the Cold War.
Ukraine has long been considered an important bridge between Eastern and Western Europe and holds lucrative oil and gas deposits.
NED president Carl Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important interim step towards toppling [Russian President Vladimir] Putin who “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
To help achieve this end, the Obama administration pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees to the post-coup government in Ukraine, which Putin considered as the “ideological heirs of [Stephen] Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice in World War II.”
Swayed by a slick lobbying campaign backed by supporters of the Afghan mujahidin in the 1980s looking for a new cause and by the Senate’s Ukraine Caucus, the Obama administration further provided nearly $600 million in security assistance to the Ukrainian military.
It was supplied with counter-artillery radars, anti-tank systems, armored vehicles and drones in a policy expanded upon by Trump.
Before and after the Ukrainian military’s campaign began, Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, and Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev, followed by a flow of senior Pentagon officials.
A back-door arms pipeline was set up through the United Arab Emirates and Blackwater mercenaries were allegedly deployed.
American military advisers embedded in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry provided rocket propelled grenades, carried out training exercises and planned military operations including with members of the fascist Azov battalion, which had Nazi-inspired Wolfsangel patches emblazoned on their sleeves.
Obama’s National Security adviser, Samantha Power, claimed that the [Ukrainian] governments “response [to alleged provocations by eastern rebels] [was] reasonable, it is proportional, and frankly it is what any of our countries would have done.”
The Ukrainian military and allied warlord and neo-Nazi militias were not acting reasonably or proportionally, however, when they carried out artillery and air attacks on cities and struck residential buildings, shopping malls, parks, schools, hospitals and orphanages in Eastern Ukraine, and tortured and executed POWs in what amounted to clear war crimes.
NYU Professor Stephen Cohen notes that even the New York Times, which mainly deleted atrocities from its coverage, described survivors in Slovyansk living “as if in the Middle Ages.”
That the American public knows nothing of these events is a sad reflection of the superficiality of our media and decline in the quality of international news coverage.
It is also a testament to the failing of the political left, which has embraced the cause of immigrant and Palestinian rights and fighting climate change, legitimately, but has neglected the plight of the Eastern Ukrainian people.
People often ask and hint at the similarities between the Hong Kong protests and the French Yellow Vests. The former started on 31 March and are approaching their 19th week. The Yellow Vests (YV) have celebrated last weekend their 40th week of protests. As of recently some voices of Macron-infiltrates into the YV movement – or Fifth Columnists – have suggested that the YVs may support the Hong Kong protesters in solidarity for freedom….
Well, that didn’t go down well with the highly educated and well informed YV. Many of them actually felt insulted by the Macronites – ‘for whom does this guy [Macron] take us?’ And right they are. There is not a shred of comparison between the two movements, except that they are protests but for widely different reasons, and serving widely different agendas. The YV can in no way be associated with the Hong Kong “protests” which are equal to US funded Color Revolutions.
We, the YV leaders said, are fighting against an ever more totalitarian French government that is ever more stealing our legitimate income in the form of all sorts of taxes and keeps a minimum wage on which ever more French families cannot survive. Life is unaffordable on a regular workers pension. The Macron Government is creating poverty, by shifting the financial resources, the few that are left, from the bottom to the top. That’s what we are fighting and protesting against. We want a fundamental change in the French economic structure and the French leadership. You see, all of this has nothing to do with the Washington funded Hong Protests that are directed on Washington’s behalf by Hong Kongers against the Government of Mainland China.
It couldn’t be clearer. The French Yellow Vests know what they are fighting for. The Hong Kong protesters, most of them, follow a few leaders under false pretenses against their country, against Beijing. Granted, many of the protesters are pro-westerners, they sing the US National Anthem, and wave the British flag – the flag of their former colonialists.
Actually, funding to destabilize Hong Kong in the future has already started at the latest in 1994, three years before the official Handover of Hong Kong by the UK to the Beijing Government. Way before the official date of returning Hong Kong in 1997 to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the US built up a network of Fifth Columnists in Hong Kong.
Washington pours millions into creating unrest in Hong Kong, similarly as in Ukraine, when the US State Department financed the preparation of the 2014 coup at least 5 years ahead at the tune of US$ 5 billion, according to Victoria Nuland’s, Deputy Secretary of State, own admission, directly and through NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, an “NGO” which it isn’t. It is rather the extended or soft arm of the CIA, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department for their ‘regime changing’ activities around the globe.
In 1991, The Washington Post quoted a NED founder, Allen Weinstein, as saying “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. Couldn’t have been said better. We see the results all over the world.
Precisely this has happened in Hong Kong and is going on until this day and probably way beyond. The US will not let go. Especially now that most people who have at least a limited understanding on how these western manipulations work, comprehend and see for themselves who is sowing the unrests. Take the 22-year-old student and western hero of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, Joshua Wong, trained. programmed and funded by the US State Department / NED / CIA. He is again a main player in the current protest movement. Wong is the on-the-ground boy for the local media tycoon, Jimmy Lai, who has spent millions of his own money in the 2014 “Occupy Central” protests (Umbrella Revolution).
The oligarch uses his funds widely to finance protest leaders and protest groups. He also created his own National Party, with significant xenophobic connotations. Yet Mr. Lai is very close to the Trump Administration and met, along with many of his protest leaders, with the US envoy in Hong Kong, as well as with National Security Advisor John Bolton and other US officials. On July 8, Mr. Jimmy Lai met US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.
Lai has full support of the US Government to fire on and promote these protest groups. Yet, if asked, the protesters have no precise plan or strategy of what they want. The island is largely divided. By far not all protesters want to separate from the mainland. They feel Chinese and express their disgust with Jimmy Lai’s radical anti-Beijing propaganda. They call him a traitor.
Mr. Lai was born in 1948 in mainland China, in an impoverished family in Canton. He was educated to fifth grade level and smuggled to Hong Kong in a small boat at age 13. In HK he worked as a child laborer in a garment factory at about the equivalent of US$ 8 per month. In 1975 he bought a bankrupt garment factory for a pittance and created Giordano, producing sweaters and other clothing for mostly US clients, like J.C. Penny, Montgomery Ward and others. Mr. Lai today is openly criticized even by his own people as a conspirator behind the violence of the HK riots, or protests, as he prefers to call them.
The protests started with a ‘controversial’ extradition law – which, by the way, exists between most States in the United States, as well as between nations in Europe and to a large extent internationally. Therefore, this is nothing unusual. Yet, its importance was blown out of proportion by the western media and by Mr. Lai’s own local media to distort the picture. A minority, of course, would like their full independence from China which is totally against the agreement signed between the UK and Beijing at the so-called 1997 Handover.
A few days ago, the US sent a couple of war ships into China waters at Hong Kong. They had the audacity to ask Beijing to grant them the right to dock at Hong Kong harbor. Beijing, of course, refused and warned Washington – do not meddle in our internal affairs. Of course, Washington has no intention to heed China’s advice – they never do. They have been inoculated with the view that the exceptional nation calls the shots. Always. Nobody else should even dare to contradict them. Period.
On July 3, The China Daily pointedly reported:
The ideologues in Western governments never cease in their efforts to engineer unrest against governments that are not to their liking, even though their actions have caused misery and chaos in country after country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Now they are trying the same trick in China.
The US tactics in Hong Kong, may be combined with Trump’s trade war, with the Pentagon’s greater presence – mainly new military bases and navy presence in the Indo-Pacific region – Obama’s (in)famous Pivot to Asia which prompted Obama to order 60% of the US Navy fleet to the South China Sea.
All of this and more are part of a destabilization war with China. Washington is afraid of China’s rising economic power in the world, of China’s monetary system, that is based on economic output and on gold, not fiat money like the US Dollar and the Euro and other currencies following the western turbo-capitalist system; and Washington is afraid of losing its dollar hegemony, as the Chinese yuan is gradually taking over the dollar’s role as world reserve currency.
Hong Kong was basically stolen by the Brits in 1842 at the heights of the Opium Wars. Under pressure of the British military might, China ceded Hong Kong under the Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842. Hong Kong became, thus, a Crown Colony of the British Empire. Under a convention of 1898, Hong Kong was leased to Britain for 99 years.
After 155 years of British colonial oppression of the people of Hong Kong, it was time to normalize the status of Hong Kong as what it always should have been, namely an integral territory of China. The “One Country, Two Systems” agreement of 1997, returned Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, but the parties agreed to leave the capitalist system in place for 50 years. The agreement also stipulated that all intervention and colonial claims on Hong Kong were supposed to end. Full sovereignty was to return to China. What’s happening now – US-UK fomented riots to seek independence of the island, is in total disregard of the 1997 Handover Treaty.
The US inspired and funded protests are destined to challenge the HK-China sovereignty clause, by mobilizing public opinion that wants full “freedom”; i.e., independence from China.
The 50 years of the usual abusive capitalist continuation would allow the imperialist US and UK to maintain economic control over Hong Kong and thereby exert economic influence over the PRC. How wrong they were! In 1997 Hong Kong’s GDP constituted 27% of the PRC’s GDP. Today that proportion shrunk to a mere 3%. China’s rapidly growing level of development, especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which the west chose to literally ignore until about a year ago, has become a vital threat to the US corporate world.
What the US and UK – and the rest of the West – is particularly interested in is HK’s special banking position in the world. Through Singapore and Hong Kong, Wall Street and key European banks, in cohorts with their not so ‘ethically-clean’ and often fraudulent HSBC partner, pretend to control and influence Asian economics and especially attempt to prevent China to take over the Asian financial markets. Hong Kong has the most liberal banking laws, possibly worldwide, where illegal money transactions, money laundering, shady investments in the billions can be carried out and nobody watches. Maintaining HK as long as possible with this special nation status and wielding influence and control over PRC’s financial markets is one of the western goals.
But little does the West understand that China and other eastern countries, plus Russia, India, Pakistan, have already largely detached, or are in the process of detaching, from the dollar economy and are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Let’s face it, the SCO comprises about half of the world’s population and controls about one third of the globe’s economic output.
Therefore, the SCO members do no longer depend on the western financial markets and monetary manipulations. In fact, Shanghai has in the last decades grown to become China’s financial hub with way more importance for China than Hong Kong. So, it is very unlikely that China will crack down on Hong Kong for the protests. There is too much political capital to be lost by interfering. The West and Hong Kong protesters may as well riot themselves into rot.
But if China gets tired of these incessant western provocations and really wants to put an end to them, the PRC could take over Hong Kong in less than 48 hours, abridge the 50 years of western capitalism and make HK a full-fledged province of China, no privileges, no special status, just a part of sovereign China. End of story.
Agnes Chow and Nathan Law accept the 2018 Lantos Human Rights Prize on behalf of Joshua Wong in Washington, DC. (Facebook)
Update: Protests continued in Hong Kong this weekend. The protesters returned to the use of violence and the police responded. The South China Morning Post reported:
In a now familiar pattern, the protesters threw bricks, petrol bombs, corrosive liquid and other projectiles at the police, who responded with tear gas, pepper balls and sponge grenades. Twenty-eight people were arrested, including an organiser of an approved protest march. At least 10 people were hospitalised, including two men in serious condition.
Some people in the United States are confused about the protests going on in Hong Kong. Whenever the corporate media and politicians, especially people like Marco Rubio, applaud a social movement, it is a red flag that the protests are not a progressive people’s movement, but serve other purposes. Is this really a democracy movement? Are workers protesting the deep inequality and exploitation there? If not, what are these protests really about?
Fortunately, a more complete narrative of what is happening in Hong Kong and how it relates to the geopolitical conflict between the United States and China is developing among independent and movement media. The following is a description of what has been learned recently.
Hong Kong Protests: Not a Democracy Movement, but an Anti-China Tool
What is happening in Hong Kong is not actually a people’s uprising for democracy, but a tool for anti-China rhetoric and “Great Power Conflict.” Many Hong Kong protesters are pro-capitalist and racist in nature, referring to mainland Chinese as locusts, and are calling for the United States to intervene. Many of the same tactics employed by Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Ukrainian regime change operations are re-appearing in Hong Kong. For example, demonstrators have used violence as a tactic to entice police to respond with violence in order to put out a false narrative of state repression against them.
There’s a tendency among progressives in the United States to support big crowds of people protesting in other countries. No doubt, the corporate media assists in this process by labeling certain movements ‘pro-democracy’ or ‘freedom fighters.’
Just because there are people in the street does not make protests progressive, worker-based or for the people’s interests. Fight Back News reports how Hong Kong has been used by China as a way to attract foreign investment, but also as a way to make the Renminbi (RMB) a more powerful currency as well as to advance China’s Belt & Road initiative. These are major threats to US dominance.
Controversial American political activist Joey Gibson, founder of the group Patriot Prayer, holds up an American flag while attending an anti-extradition rally in Hong Kong on July 7, 2019. Facebook Live screengrab
Dan Cohen of the Grayzone mentions the ties between the protest movement and right-wing racist groups in the US. This is an issue requiring further reporting as it is strange that pro-Trump, racist groups are supporting the protests and the protesters are using US racist symbols.
Cohen’s major focus is the capitalist ties of the Hong Kong protesters. He describes the Rubert Murdoch of Hong Kong, Jimmy Lai, the self-described “head of opposition media,” who has been spending a lot of money, millions, to build the movement and giving a lot of media time to the anti-China rhetoric. And, he shows the connections between these capitalists and the Trump administration; i.e., he has had meetings with Bolton, Pence, and Pompeo as well as with neocons in the Senate, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton.
The goal of the Hong Kong protests is only unclear because they are trying to hide their true purpose. The real goal is preventing the full integration of Hong Kong into China in 2047 when the transition agreement between China and the United Kingdom is finished. The United States, the United Kingdom, and billionaires in Hong Kong want it to be integrated into the western capitalist economy and fear China’s state-planned economy. If they succeed, Hong Kong will become a base of economic, military and political operations for the US at the Chinese border, a critical position for the West’s ‘Great Power Conflict’ with Russia and China.
The US is investing in an anti-China movement to make integration of Hong Kong into China difficult. China is already hedging its bets by building Shenzhen across the bay, a state-planned, market-based economy, which will become an alternative to Hong Kong and shrink Hong Kong’s importance. The people of Hong Kong will be the losers if this occurs.
The Hong Kong Protest Is Not A Working-Class Revolt
Even though there are good reasons for workers in Hong Kong to revolt, these protests are not focused on the issues of economic insecurity; i.e., high levels of poverty, the exorbitant cost of housing, low wages, and long hours. As Sara Flounders writes:
For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world.
But, as Fight Back Newsexplains: “The Hong Kong protests are absolutely not driven by or in the interests of the working class, whether in Hong Kong or mainland China.” In fact, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions is not backing the demonstrations and called on its members to reject the call for a strike on August 5 put out by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, which is backed by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
If the protesters were focused on workers rights, they would be demanding an end to, or at least reform of, the neoliberal capitalism of Hong Kong that is dominated by big financial interests and corruption. In fact, half of the seats in the legislature are set aside for business interests who vote to protect their profits and not basic needs such as housing, but there is no criticism of this by the protesters.
Fight Back News writes: “In actuality, the protests in Hong Kong serve the interests of finance capital, both in the city itself and around the world,” and makes the important point that “Hong Kong’s working class has nothing to gain from worse relations with mainland China, much less from ‘independence.’ They suffered greatly under British colonial rule – no minimum wage laws; no labor protections; barbaric legal punishments like flogging and more.”
The Role of the United States is Evident to Anyone Who Looks
The NED has spent millions of dollars to build this anti-China movement over the years in a place with a population of 7.3 million people, over a million fewer people than New York City. The first to report on NED involvement in the current protest was Alexander Rubinstein of Mintpress News, who wrote: “the coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM [Human Rights Monitor], Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.” HKHRM alone received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED between 1995 and 2013.
The Viable Opposition blogger, in “How Washington is Meddling In the Affairs of Hong Kong“, describes NED’s history as a regime change agent for the United States and the recent NED funding in Hong Kong, pointing to a total of $1,357,974 on grants to organizations described as promoting freedom, democracy and human rights in Hong Kong over the period from 2015 to 2018.
This is not short-term funding but a long-term commitment by the United States. NED has been doing mass funding in Hong Kong since 1996. In 2012, NED invested $460,000 through its National Democratic Institute, to build the anti-China movement (aka pro-democracy movement), particularly among university students. Two years later, the mass protests of Occupy Central occurred.
Sara Flounders points out US funding goes beyond NED, writing: “Funding from the NED, the Ford, Rockefeller, Soros and numerous other corporate foundations, Christian churches of every denomination, and generous British funding, is behind this hostile, subversive network orchestrating the Hong Kong protests.” The US-funding of NGO’s confuses political activists, media and commentators because they fund a myriad of NGO’s in Hong Kong. As a result, there are human rights, democracy, youth and other Hong Kong spokespersons whose NED funding is not disclosed when they talk in the media.
Martin Lee, Benny Tai, and Joshua Wong speak at Freedom House, 2015
Hong Kong protesters are not always secret about their ties to the US. In 2014, Mintpress Newsexposed US involvement in Occupy Central. They pointed out that Martin Lee, a Hong Kong protest figure, was in bed with NED. They gave him an award and had his bio on their website. He came to Washington, DC in 2014 along with Anson Chan, another protest figure, and met with Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Lee took part in a NED talk hosted specifically for him. In 2015, Lee and others were applauded for their leadership by Freedom House, which, as the now-deceased Robert Parry described in 2017, works hand in hand with the NED.
In this Popular Resistance story, we point out that during the current protests, participants were meeting with Julie Eadeh, of the US Consulate at a hotel. And, when Nathan Law and Agnes Chow visited the US they met with the China-hawk Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel. They also met with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Senator Marco Rubio.
Protesters carry US and UK flags, and sing the Stars and Stripes Forever and the US national anthem, displaying their connection to western nations. In one of the most iconic moments, demonstrating how these protests are really a microcosm of the conflict between the US and China, a protester used a US flag to beat a Chinese reporter, Fu Guohao of Global Times, who was tied up and assaulted at the Hong Kong airport.
Some believe the protests are too big for the US to control and point to the amount of money being spent by the NED. If the populations of Hong Kong and the US are compared, $1 million in funding for the movement in Hong Kong is equivalent to $60 million in the US. Additional funds are also being provided by billionaires. That level of resources is gigantic for popular movements that typically run on shoestring budgets.
The only way not to see US involvement in the Hong Kong protests is to close your eyes, ears, and mind and pretend it does not exist.
Challenging the Dominant Western Narrative
Although Western backing and political ambitions are the reality, it is a challenge to get this narrative out more widely. Too many in the US are confused by the messaging coming from the Hong Kong billionaires, NED-funded NGO’s, bi-partisan politicians in DC and the military-intelligence establishment, all made larger by the corporate mass media.
Corporate powers are banning social media accounts and YouTube Channels from China to suppress social media activism that tells a different narrative. For example, an article in the China Dailydocuments US involvement in detail with photographs of meetings between US officials and Hong Kong opposition, as well as the role of NED and Voice of America.
Independent media outlets, such as the ones cited above, are exposing who is behind the protests and their pro-capitalist, imperialist agenda. They are starting to change the dominant western narrative. This is critical because it is easy for activists to be drawn into supporting movements that are counter to our goals for social and economic justice as well as peace.
Hong Kongers have also been manipulated pawns in the US Great Power Conflict with China. They are advocating against their own interests by seeking what will essentially be re-colonization by the West. If the US is successful, it will not be good for the people of Hong Kong, Asia or the world.
Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, reads as a meditation on the reliability of memory. Or even as a bill of indictments against the self-serving selectivity of memory. The book beautifully, if kaleidoscopically, reveals how an older man misremembers events of his youth, how his memories cast him in the warmth of the sun rather than cool shadow, as it were, until the actual character of his early behavior, and its consequences, is revealed by a figure from his past. The revelations force the narrator to reevaluate the narrative of his life, not always with kind effect.
So often what we experience at the individual level is reflected on a collective plane. What Barnes imagined at a micro-level in his searching novel, the political left has mined at a macro-level, calling attention to an increasingly obvious, “plutocratic propaganda system” disseminated round the clock through mainstream media. Noam Chomsky calls it our, “doctrinal system.” Louis Althusser wrote about it as an, “ideological state apparatus.” Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers argues these elite-crafted forms of consensus are often, “false historical narratives.” Robert Creel headed a commission for Woodrow Wilson that successfully used systemic mass messaging to shape the opinions of ordinary Americans — from pacifist to warlike. The McCarthy Era, once an unimaginable epoch of almost farcical credulity, generated media-driven fright that had millions cowering before the threat of communism. Russiagate has renewed the emotional traumas of McCarthyism for a new generation.
After researching evolutionary selection pressures for lying, the biologist Trivers discovered that one of the advantages of self-deceit is that it makes one’s lies more convincing. It’s hard to be a persuasive liar if you are intensely conscious of your own fakery; but if you believe what you’re saying, watch out. The tics of the amateur con vanish into the ether. True conviction emerges. In politics, the field where undetectable falsification is a desired skill set, this may indicate that the purveyors of false historical narratives genuinely believe their own forgeries and fabrications. Donald Trump believes, in his race-obsessed mind, that immigrants are an existential threat to the nation (of privileged whites). He doesn’t see it as race baiting. Barack Obama believed that a compromising incrementalism was the best path forward and that the military-industrial-intelligence community should largely be left to its own devices. He didn’t regard it as devastating capitulation. Nor did he appear particularly unsettled by the human cost of unrestrained militarism. Ronald Reagan doubtless feared the communist hordes as he sent a river of arms into Central America. Yet he didn’t recognize his own fearsome paranoia.
In The Sense of an Ending, the narrator has reshaped his personal history in self-flattering fashion, stripping away the pernicious elements of his actions, leaving a clean tale intact. His complicity in a suicide and birth of an unwanted child elude his memory. In the same way, a president’s internal narrative may allow him to sleep comfortably at night, despite the crimson stains on his record. In Sense, this allows the central character to effectively evade any reckoning he’d have had to make with his self-image as a decent human being. This rings true to life. How many people do you know that believe they are genuinely good people? Who conveniently erase facts that complicate the narrative? Likewise, how many nations do you know that believe they are on the right side of history?
A few examples snatched from the headlines should suffice to indicate the general level of popular deceit at work in the national narrative:
According to FAIR, the state propaganda radio network NPR has smeared Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the government no less than 26 times since December with such choice epithets “authoritarian” and “regime,” while elections are cleverly discredited when baseless terms like “fraud” are regularly peppered into the script. All this despite Maduro’s greater claim to electoral legitimacy than Donald Trump. Naturally, NPR has spent little time depicting the impact of U.S. sanctions on the Venezuelan economy. A massive food shipment was recently detained in the Panama Canal. Tens of thousands are said to have died thanks to Washington’s bitter, fear-driven siege against the socialist Bolivarians. And still millions of American liberals take their morning tea with this soothing NPR drivel, swallowing its deceits with the ease of their daily medications, both ensuring a robotic response to the day’s news.
Independent reports on YouTube reveal that the Google-owned video platform is suppressing millions of viewers from seeing independent news and analysis. No surprise, since Google itself has already been outed as a thoroughly biased search engine throwing its algorithmic magic behind Democrats and all manner of corporate media propaganda. A recent search for Jeffery Epstein news returned dozens of mainstream videos but not a single alternative newscast. How comical that this search monopoly once premised its existence on the credo, “Don’t Be Evil.” In any case, all the views that used to find their way to independent content have apparently now been redirected to CNN, MSNBC, and FOX channels. You have to hand it to the ruling class; they understand class solidarity.
In Brazil, the entire professional class appears to loathe the worker’s party, Partido de Trabalhadores, or PT, as somehow worse than the disastrously corrupt neoliberal governments that preceded it. This largely thanks to media that framed the PT in such a manner. But Glen Greenwald’s reportage at The Intercept has now demonstrated what many on the left thought all along, that the entire Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva crime scandal was a judicial farce, much like the Dilma Rousseff impeachment. The latter was a constitutional coup that removed a sitting president while the former was an illegal frame-up designed to bar Lula from running for president again. Now a fascist thug rules with a volatile confection of racist tropes, laissez faire concessions, and military jingoism. Perfect.
Yet we wonder why Americans are so out of step with world opinion, so comprehensively ignorant of world affairs, not least the notorious actions of their own government abroad. Reuters buried a story on deaths caused by U.S. sanctions in Venezuela. A pittance of reportage was done on the fairly huge story of some 120 countries backing the Venezuelan government. That meeting of the nonaligned movement certainly garnered less coverage than the Obama administration alone dismissing Venezuelan elections in 2013 and Trump preemptively rejecting them last year. Did anyone see news on the large recent anti-imperialist protests in Venezuela as well? Where is the ongoing coverage of the Gilets Jaunes in France, who continue to protest for the 40th consecutive week? No, only when the state forces of a target nation swing into action, and the spectre of repression materializes, are cameras hoisted on shoulders and microphones lifted to babbling lips. That means a story is at hand. If there’s state violence afoot, the automaton journalists can unpack their favorite tropes about Latin caudillos and shaky democratic institutions.
Unlike the hush that has fallen over French discontent, the hyperventilating coverage of the Hong Kong protests have blanketed the mainstream press. By design. The target is China, the aim to discredit the Communist government and reduce the mainland’s control over Hong Kong. The tactics employed by the protestors derive from Gene Sharp’s blueprint to provoke harsh reprisals from sitting governments. The protestors are lavishly funded by the West, namely the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Orwellian soft power apparatus created by the Reagan administration to effect internal rebellions in target nations. Of course, as is always the case, roiled protestors have some real grievances. Housing costs are some 70 percent of the median income.
Not only that, but we are balefully purblind about our own form of government. Thanks to Russiagate, millions of Americans believe “our democracy” (a nonexistent phantom in its own right) has been attacked by some devilish collection of rogue Slavs headed by Vladimir Putin. This rejuvenated cliché of the externalized other is misdirection. Rather than focus on the systemic flaws of our government, we direct our fears and scorn at Moscow and at the vicious oaf in the White House. Both are easy targets.
We often digest these false story lines because they coincide with an underlying strata of deeper historical untruth that forms the bedrock of the national narrative. Given the human proclivity to dodge cognitive dissonance, our acceptance of this afternoon’s fake news is predicated on the fake news of fifty years ago. The triumphalism of the post-World War Two era has continued through today. The stories line up. We fought for freedom from totalitarian regimes during the Cold War. We war for our democratic freedoms today.
This is partly why it can be so difficult for us to even consider with any degree of sincerity the arguments of someone like Gerald Horne, prolific Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, who concludes that the American Revolution was largely ignited by a desire among slave owners and slave traders to protect their burgeoning super profits from an UK government that had incentives to abolish the practice of slavery. In fact, a London judge outlawed slavery just five years before the American revolt. British elites also knew that abolition would have devastated the colonial economy, which was becoming a dangerous competitor to the crown. Horne’s monograph is powerful, his contentions incendiary. Yet they undermine the soaring rhetorical odes that flicker through our minds when we hear the national anthem or glimpse the rippling flag. And so we scarcely hear his name.
Perhaps the larger point one can make in this regard is that to understand the deceits that inform our national narrative is to accept the possibility, or rather the likelihood, that the United State is on the wrong side of history. This thesis is nothing precious to African-Americans or other marginalized citizenries. But among libertarian-minded blue-collar patriots or liberal professionals it is seldom voiced, a recidivate notion dismissed as daft or conspiracy laden. But it is precisely this questioning consciousness that will need to spread more powerfully among all elements of the population before radical change can occur. A revolution in consciousness always precedes apostasy. Heresy begins between the ears.
At one point early in the Barnes novel, a character muses that history is a combination of “the lies of the victors” and the “self-delusions of the defeated.” If we want any chance at progressive triumph, we ought first to dispense with the delusions of our self-flattering mythos.
Left to right, a depiction of the famous allegorical story of Confucius, Laozi and Buddha each tasting vinegar in a vat, and the interpretation of their results.
Today’s Hong Kong could be represented by the vinegar. Now, all three are in mind and spirit, watching over China’s wayward territory.[/caption]There is a great allegorical story about Confucius, Laozi – who was the founder of Daoism – and Buddha gathering around a vat of vinegar to taste it. Confucius and Laozi actually met and spent some time together in the 6th-5th century BCE. Buddhism did not make it to China until the 1st century CE, but other than the latter’s concept of reincarnation, the three philosophies have much in common and all are looming large over the problems happening in Hong Kong recently.
In the story, Confucius thought the vinegar tasted sour, symbolizing that people needed a system of values and an understanding about how society and government needed to be guided. Buddha tasted bitterness, representing the toils and troubles during our existence on Earth: greed, vainglory, anger, and the only way to overcome them is to clear our minds and souls of all selfishness, in order to attain inner peace and enlightenment. Laozi, the original hippie, uber-Mr. Natural, thought the vinegar tasted just grand because that is that way it is supposed to taste, so why fight it or criticize its essential being? Just take a step back and let life flow.
Since there are many common threads in all three philosophies, over the centuries they have melded into a popular Chinese belief system under the rubric of Buddhism, but all three are very much part and parcel of what transpires in thousands of temples across China, when citizens go there to pray, meditate and make offerings. These commonalities center around humility, forbearance, relenting and retreating in the face of insults, violence and arrogance. It can be generally encapsulated under the Chinese concept of ren (忍), which means to relent in the face of aggression or arrogance.
And we are seeing this way of life unfolding before our eyes, during all the protests and violence happening recently in Hong Kong. Before we get to ancient Chinese philosophy NOT kicking butt there, you first have to understand that the West, via their spy agencies (CIA, MI6, DGSE, BND, etc.) and cover NGOs among the 37,000 present there, which are also funded by the likes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), pseudo-liberal billionaires like George Soros and Pierre Omidyar are organizing and paying for all this ongoing mayhem. This occurred during the last imperial attack on Hong Kong, called the Umbrella Revolution. Like then, the West is paying thousands of unemployed people 20-30 euros a day to hit the streets and create havoc. Sensing weakness on the part of the Chinese, due to their adopting ancient Chinese ren, there are reports that the CIA cabal is now paying top dollar to try to destroy Hong Kong’s way of life, up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars a day (about US$650) for those willing to wantonly destroy property and attack the police.
Sometimes they get caught in the act. Below is a photo of an obvious Western spook directing Hong Kong protestors. This clown’s t-shirt says “Freedom” and for social media in China, the big yellow characters paraphrase, “Be on the lookout for these evil devils”. I have been informed by locals that his name is Brian Kern and he is a well-known CIA/color revolution operative in Hong Kong. All in a day’s imperial chaos and mayhem:
The Chinese social media text above says that these people were being paid HK$1,000 to march for a day, HK$2,000 for chanting against the government and HK$5,000 for tearing the place up.
All this kind of blatant evidence is widely circulated across Chinese social media, so everybody except Westerners knows exactly what is going on. Beijing is publicly calling for investigations into “foreign meddling” of the very violent Hong Kong protests turned riots. Again, it’s not rocket science, except for uninformed Westerners.
Given the obvious, I was at first frustrated that Hong Kong authorities, clearly with China’s nod, retreated from passing the extradition law that would allow Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and the Mainland to send wanted crooks to the origins of their crimes. Even after living and working with Chinese people for 16 years and fully understanding and adopting their practice of ren, as a Westerner, it’s normal to genuflect, screaming, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, so shove that law down those foreign manipulated punks’ throats! That’s how we think and react and at first, I was thinking Hong Kong’s leaders were looking like muddle-headed fools.
But, Confucius, Laozi and Buddha were on all the leaders’ minds. Incredibly, at least from a Western point of view, Hong Kong’s governor, Ms. Carrie Lam, on behalf of her administration profusely apologized to the whole world for not doing a good job, for not communicating well the extradition bill’s intent, for underestimating the people’s concerns and failing their expectations. For days, they showed the utmost humility and contrition to their citizens. Imagine that happening in the West. Not! Then Lam kept a low profile for a few days, to let the dust settle.
Yet, ancient Chinese philosophy is proving to be victorious in the face of relentless Western attempts to destroy Hong Kong’s, and by extension, Mainland China’s way of life. You could call it Mohammed Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy, or give ‘em enough rope to hang themselves, and that is exactly what has happened. The CIA gang perceived all of the aforementioned ren as a sign of weakness and turned up the violence dial, by ordering the their goons to sack the Legislative Council. They estimate it will take millions to fix and up to six months to reopen its doors. This is one result of Western propaganda’s “peaceful, freedom and democracy loving protestors.”
Below two shots to show just how much damage these Western thugs did to the Legco:
As a result, there is now widespread anger and revulsion by the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens against the protestors and Beijing is using it very effectively to remind China’s 1.4 billion citizens what real Western “freedom and democracy” offer: violence and chaos.
The whole fiasco has blown up in the West’s imperial face and all it can do now is double down on the mayhem. Colonial capitalists cause destruction in search of ever more money, property, possessions and power, regardless of the consequences. We now have young Hong Kongers supposedly inspired to commit suicide “for the cause” and the West’s puppet local leaders saying they would rather die than allow the extradition bill to pass. In the face of a civilization that above all cherishes social harmony and economic stability, the West is committing long term hari kari, while again, handing Beijing a massive anti-Western democracy public relations coup, both on the Mainland and in Hong Kong.
It will get to the point where most Hong Kongers will be counting the days when the territory is completely reunited with the Mainland on July 1, 2047, while green with envy, gazing at 40-year-old Shenzhen next door (where I have lived for the last three years), which is already a generation ahead of Hong Kong, all thanks to Confucius, Laozi and Buddha showing the way.
Governor Lam has since come out offering to talk to the protestors, while refusing to drop the extradition bill, which will eventually pass, mark my word, as well as demanding that all the imperial traitors be identified, arrested and prosecuted. The Hong Kong moral majority also organized a big demonstration in support of the beleaguered police force – which has shown incredible ren – and the government. In the end, global capitalism will have won a Pyrrhic propaganda battle, but has already long lost its sabotage war to destroy the Chinese’s communist-socialist way of life.
So, to Confucius, Laozi and Buddha, hear, hear, three cheers!
In closing, here is a funny, acerbic tweet, probably from a Brit living and working in Hong Kong.
In chats about Hong Kong and the mainland, we always reached a consensus: if you want to develop you can go to the United States or back to the mainland, but there is no future in Hong Kong. In recent years, the decline has happened with shocking speed. At handover in 1997, per capita GDP was twice Macao’s. Hong Kong’s GDP was 18 percent of China’s then; in 2013 it was three percent. Now, Macau’s is three times Hong Kong’s. In 1997, neither Beijing, Shanghai nor Guangzhou had GDPs approaching Hong Kong’s; now all are higher, as are Shenzhen’s and Tianjin’s.1
Demonstrators breaking into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Chambers
The Good Old Days
Under British rule, Hong Kong’s public had no say in political appointment and the Governor, who was Commander in Chief of military forces, could do anything short of sentencing people to death. Wiretaps didn’t require warrants; when police denied demonstration permits the courts could only review their paperwork; the legislature was a rubber stamp and there was no political opposition. Under Communist “oppression”, the courts review police decisions for reasonableness, citizens elect their legislators, the government has a political opposition, and the Chief Executive can neither declare martial law nor call out the military. Some things haven’t changed, however: it is still illegal in Hong Kong to join the Communist Party of China.
Some aspects of contemporary Hong Kong missing from our media’s coverage:
As long as it controlled access to China’s gigantic market, Hong Kong flourished. Capitalism, Democracy, and British Justice had nothing to do with it.
Had Hong Kong joined the mainland in 1997 its prosperity would have been assured.
Before the handover the UK introduced electoral democracy, the poisoned chalice that ended the Colony’s hopes for development.
When the Asian Financial Crisis crashed real estate markets Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa created the ‘85,000 Housing Development Project’ to build affordable homes and diversify the economy by building the Hong Kong Science Park and increasing investment in commerce, education, industry and tourism.
Once the affordable housing units came onto the market the bourgeoisie opposed them because they affected real estate prices, the legislation voted with the bourgeoisie and the youth demonstrated in their support. Tung was vilified and thrown out.
After they killed 224 people in the post-Tiananmen riots in 1989 French Intelligence, Britain’s MI6 and the CIA smuggled 600 agents out through Hong Kong to Western countries. The PRC arrested three Hong Kong-based activists but released them after intervention by the Hong Kong government.
When China joined the WTO in 2001, trade bypassed Hong Kong, stagnation set in and the city’s best and brightest joined Taiwanese seeking a better life on the mainland.
Hong Kong’s profile now resembles Britain’s: 23% of its children live in poverty– compared to the mainland’s 1%.
Home ownership–a marriage prerequisite–fell from 53% in 2010 to 49% in 2018– compared to 78% on the mainland.
Hong Kong trails only London and New York for the largest concentration of individuals worth more than $30 million.
Hong Kong’s ten richest citizens account for 35% of its GDP.
Hong Kong’s household GINI is 0.539, Singapore’s is 0.458 in 2016, America’s is 0.394 and the UK’s is 0.358. (0=equality).
Rent for an HK ‘coffin apartment’ is HK$2,000/mo.
Hong Kong’s woes illustrate capitalism’s familiar shortcomings: wealth accumulation has far outstripped the development of productive forces and the vast majority of citizens have no way to share its benefits. A large rentier class owns most of the city’s social resources, the same contradiction–between capital accumulation and society’s desire to live a dignified life–we confront in the US.
What do Hongkongers really need? Economic growth, employment opportunities and better housing, tasks the mainland has already accomplished. If they want a bright future Hong Kongers need to work together harder and bring their education standards up to the mainland’s. Their youth must develop a clear understanding of their true friends and real enemies.
The Protest Puzzle
The protests are interesting for several reasons:
They’re directed at Beijing, which does even have an extradition treaty with HK and has never requested one.
They’re timed (probably by the NED) to coincide with the anniversary of the handover.
They ignore the financial institutions and capitalists blocking legislative change.
Western media cover them sympathetically, almost hysterically, while ignoring real protests in Gaza, Honduras, Sudan, Yemen, and Brazil.
British media–which have persecuted, tortured, and incarcerated Julian Assange for non-political crimes–now urge his extradition, while trembling lest the PRC use ‘non-political crimes to prosecute critics.’
The UK Government has refused to sell crowd control gear to Hong Kong police.
Imagine how the NYPD would respond if one of their officers were assaulted like this:
Or if demonstrators behaved like this: https://youtu.be/qFgE2Ardv64
Hong Kong police reported firing 150 tear gas canisters, several rounds of rubber bullets and 20 beanbags during the one day of serious violence, causing 72 injuries, none of which required hospitalization, and making 30 arrests.
French police, by contrast, fired 19,000 rubber bullets last year and 5,400 shock grenades, caused 850 serious injuries and 30 mutilations, dozens of facial and skull fractures. Twelve French demonstrators lost one eye. Including those injured by tear gas, water cannon and truncheons, the number would approach six figures, a level of repression not seen since the German Occupation.
French police arrested 9,000 on March 24 alone, half of whom received prison sentences–and that was before orders were issued to arrest protesters even faster.
The almost total Western media silence about French figures has been matched with relentless propaganda presenting their demonstrators as destructive hooligans.
The NED: Doing God’s Work
Beijing’s completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong-Mainland high-speed railway, along with the relentless decline of voter support for ‘democracy’ parties at every Hong Kong election are speeding the West’s ungraceful retreat from an Asia that never invited them. The extradition law will further erode Western influence and accelerate the political and economic integration of Hong Kong. Here are some elements of dis-integration:
There are 37,000 NGOs registered in Hong Kong (compared to 13,000 in Shanghai, which is four times larger), many of which receive funding from the US and Europe.
In March 1997 the NED sent their first survey mission to Hong Kong to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NED programming in the territory.
Fourteen NED survey missions had visited Hong Kong by 2012 to assess the political environment and identify possibilities for NED programming.
In 2004, the NED found little interest among university students in activism,2 “Many critics still lament the low level of interest and activism by university students in Hong Kong”.
Between 1995 – 2013, HKHRM received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED.
Through its NDI and SC branches, NED has had close relations with other groups in Hong Kong. SC has given $540,000 to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions in the past seven years.
The current protest’s messaging and its associated groups raise questions about how organic the movement is:
Some of the groups receive significant, direct funding from the NED.
The Canadian and British foreign ministries have publicly thrown their weight behind the protests.
The protesters appeal to Western audiences, using signs in English and the hashtag “AntiExtraditionLaw”.
The group below is waving colonial Hong Kong flags while accusing China of colonialism.
Keeping Hong Kong from China has been an American priority for decades. One former CIA agent even admitted, “Hong Kong was our listening post.”
Seventy international NGOs have endorsed an open letter urging the bill to be killed, but signed only by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM)–all US fronts.
In 2018, NED granted $155,000 to SC and $200,000 to NDI for work in Hong Kong, and $90,000 to HKHRM, which is not itself a branch of NED but a partner in Hong Kong.
The coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, lists as organizers of the demonstrations the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.
Since Beijing made a big deal of NED’s influence in the 2014 Occupy protests, it is inconceivable that the current protest organizers are unaware of NED’s ties to its members. One NED official, Louisa Greve, told the Voice of America that “activists know the risks of working with NED partners” in Hong Kong.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress has “no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong is ‘sufficiently autonomous’ under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”
The State Department says the extradition bill could “could undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and negatively impact the territory’s long-standing protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values.”
Martin Lee, founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, a member organization of the Civil Human Rights Front, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who expressed support for the protests
Why are the protests supported by a foreign power currently carrying out a coup in Venezuela, threatening the DPRK and trying to start a war with Iran?
The Actual Amendment
The amendment would “allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that do not have long-term rendition agreements with the city,” among them mainland China and Taiwan. It was introduced when authorities found that a Hong Kong man wanted for murdering his pregnant girlfriend could not be returned to Taiwan to stand trial. Under current law, criminals from other parts of China can escape charges by fleeing to Hong Kong (imagine if Louisiana, under its Napoleonic code, refused to extradite fugitives from Texas or California for crimes committed in those states). Under the amendment the following crimes will be extraditable:
Aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring suicide.
Maliciously wounding; maiming; inflicting grievous or actual bodily harm; assault occasioning actual bodily harm; threats to kill; intentional or reckless endangering of life whether by means of a weapon, a dangerous substance or otherwise; offences relating to unlawful wounding or injuring.
Offences of a sexual nature including rape; sexual assault; indecent assault; unlawful sexual acts on children; statutory sexual offences.
Gross indecency with a child, a mental defective or an unconscious person.
Kidnapping; abduction; false imprisonment; unlawful confinement; dealing or trafficking in slaves or other persons; taking a hostage.
Offences against the law relating to dangerous drugs including narcotics, psychotropic substances, precursors and essential chemicals used in the illegal manufacture of narcotics and psychotropic substances; offences relating to the proceeds of drug trafficking.
Obtaining property or pecuniary advantage by deception; theft; robbery; burglary (including breaking and entering); embezzlement; blackmail; extortion; unlawful handling or receiving of property; false accounting; any other offence in respect of property or fiscal matters involving fraud; any offence against the law relating to unlawful deprivation of property.
Offences against bankruptcy law or insolvency law.
Offences against the law relating to companies including offences committed by officers, directors and promoters.
Offences relating to securities and futures trading.
Offences relating to counterfeiting; offences against the law relating to forgery or uttering what is forged.
Offences against the law relating to protection of intellectual property, copyrights, patents or trademarks.
Offences relating to bribery, corruption, secret commissions and breach of trust.
Perjury and subornation of perjury.
Offences relating to the perversion or obstruction of the course of justice.
Arson; criminal damage or mischief including mischief in relation to computer data.
Offences against the law relating to firearms.
Offences against the law relating to explosives.
Offences relating to environmental pollution or protection of public health.
Mutiny or any mutinous act committed on board a vessel at sea.
Piracy involving ships or aircraft.
Unlawful seizure or exercise of control of an aircraft or other means of transportation.
Genocide or direct and public incitement to commit genocide.
Facilitating or permitting the escape of a person from custody.
Offences against the law relating to the control of exportation or importation of goods of any type, or the international transfer of funds.
Smuggling; import and export of prohibited items, including historical and archaeological items.
Immigration offences including fraudulent acquisition or use of a passport or visa.
Arranging or facilitating for financial gain, the illegal entry of persons into a jurisdiction.
Offences relating to gambling or lotteries.
Offences relating to the unlawful termination of pregnancy.
Stealing, abandoning, exposing or unlawfully detaining a child; any other offences involving the exploitation of children.
Offences relating to prostitution and premises kept for the purposes of prostitution.
Offences involving the unlawful use of computers.
Offences relating to fiscal matters, taxes or duties.
Offences relating to unlawful escape from custody; mutiny in prison.
Offences relating to women and girls.
Offences against the law relating to false or misleading trade descriptions.
Offences relating to the possession or laundering of proceeds obtained from the commission of any offence described in this Schedule.
Impeding the arrest or prosecution of a person who has or is believed to have committed an offence described in this Schedule.
Offences for which persons may be surrendered under multilateral international conventions; offences created as a result of decisions of international organizations.
Conspiracy to commit fraud or to defraud.
Conspiracy to commit, or any type of association to commit, any offence described in this Schedule.
Aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring the commission of, inciting, being an accessory before or after the fact to, or attempting to commit an offence described in, this Schedule.
The current spate of US-initiated wars, threats of wars, embargoes, threats of embargoes, coups, threats of coups, heavy censorship and massive propaganda, while impressive in its breadth, seems to lack strategic coherence, tactical effectiveness, credibility or effectiveness.
ABOVE: A picture circulated by CNN confirms the out of control violence of the protesters. Even CNN seems a bit confused about the Hong Kong process. The caption reads: A policeman looks at the damage and debris after protesters stormed the legislature hours before in Hong Kong early on July 2, 2019. This image was part of a subtly tendentious dispatch filed by James Griffiths on 2 July 2019.
Examine it, if you can, and see if you can spot the biases now that you read our remedial report.
In February 2003, protest organizers estimated that nearly 2 million people took to the streets of London in opposition to going to war against Iraq. United States president George W. Bush came across as dismissive of the protestors, likening them to a “focus group.”1 The number of protestors did not deter Bush and United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair from their path.
The aftermath was that the US, UK, and other allies initiated a lopsided war based on “intelligence and facts [that] were being fixed around the policy” of military action.2 Iraq did not possess weapons-of-mass destruction; it was as United Nations weapons inspector had warned beforehand that Iraq was “fundamentally disarmed.” What transpired was an act of aggression — which the Nuremberg Tribunal described thusly:
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Furthermore, the US-led debacle against a sanctions-weakened Iraq is compellingly argued, by lawyers Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani, as an act of genocide by the US, UK, allies, and the UN Security Council.3
Two Million Demonstrators Take to the Streets of Hong Kong
On 27 June, the Hong Kong Free Pressreported about 200 people protesting outside secretary for justice Teresa Cheng’s office. On the following day, a counter demonstration of around 200 people made the rounds of 19 foreign consulates demanding that foreign countries not interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong
Just days earlier, crowds estimated at one and two million people took to the streets to protest in Hong Kong. Protest against what?
Fingers point to a gruesome incident that occurred between a Hong Kong couple while on vacation in Taiwan. A young, pregnant woman was murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend. The boyfriend was jailed for the theft of her money and personal effects, but a trial for the killing outside of Hong Kong’s jurisdiction is prevented. And there is no extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The possibility of a release as early as October of 2019 has been provided as a reason for the expedited passing of an extradition bill.
What was unexpected was that so many Hong Kongers would oppose it.
The protests have been effective in first having amendments made to the bill, and subsequently sidelining the bill, but it may be resurrected for a vote at a later date. The Hong Kong government amended the extradition law to serious criminal offenses only, those carrying a minimum sentence of 7 years’ jail time, for those who committed a crime elsewhere and returned to Hong Kong. A person who commits an offense in Hong Kong would not be extradited to mainland China.
The Boogeyman of Fear
Why the hullabaloo over an extradition bill when Hong Kong already has extradition agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and US?
Why should an extradition agreement with other countries cause such a ruckus? If one peruses the corporate-state media, a clear answer emerges: fear; it is a perceived fear of what China may do to a person extradited to the mainland. Is this a rational or justifiable fear?
The South China Morning Poststates, “[C]ritics fear Beijing may abuse the new arrangement to target political activists.”
Germany’s DW cites critics who say China “has a poor legal and human rights record.”
“Protests have been raging in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill, which, if approved, would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.”
Al Jazeerawrites that people in Hong Kong fear China’s encroachment on their rights.
The Guardianhighlights a Hong Konger who was “waving a large Union Jack flag, a tribute to the British colonial era before the city was handed back to China’s rule, and implicit attack on Beijing.”
The Guardian article claims, “The alarm over the bill underscores many Hong Kong residents’ rising anxiety and frustration over the erosion of civil liberties that have set the city apart from the rest of China.”
The New York Timesdownplayed Chinese sovereignty over the semi-autonomous Hong Kong by pointing to a large, white banner which read, “This is Hong Kong, not China.”
The Financial Timeswrites, “Critics fear the law would allow Beijing to seize anyone it likes who sets foot in the territory — from a normal resident to the chief executive of a multinational in transit — and whisk them off to mainland China on trumped up charges.”
What about Edward Snowden?
Back in 2013, ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden left the US for Hong Kong with a thumb-drive stash of secret NSA documents, which he turned over to some hand-picked journalists. Snowden was not beyond the reach of the US in Hong Kong, and the American government sought his extradition. Snowden, however, was allowed to depart Hong Kong for Moscow. Apparently, the Americans “had mucked up the legal paperwork.”
Hong Kong had no choice but to let the 30-year-old leave for “a third country through a lawful and normal channel.”
Those refugees in Hong Kong who helped Snowden elude apprehension have not fared as well as Snowden. Human-rights lawyer Robert Tibbo described the situation bluntly: “Refugees are marginalized to such an extent, that they are Hong Kong’s own version of Untouchables.”
Yet, despite what is transpiring in their own backyard, Hong Kongers are in the streets saying they fear what might happen to those who might be extradited to mainland China.
What about Julian Assange?
Hong Kongers and the state-corporate media are expressing fear about what China may do. But what about two countries that Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with — the US and the UK? One only need point to the current egregious abuses meted out to Julian Assange to dispel any notion of justice. And why is Assange’s extradition being sought? For exposing US war crimes!
Relations with Mainland China
China’s chairman Xi Jinping is unremitting in his battle against corruption, but also his political platform includes “promot[ing] social fairness and justice as core values.”4 Is this something to fear?
There is the case of the disappearance of Hong Kong booksellers. There is also concern about the arrest of human rights lawyers in China. I am not about to state that the application of the law in China is perfect. But where is justice perfect? China does practice censorship, but freedom to speak has limits. One instance of when censorship is justified: to prevent the dissemination and spread of disinformation. Consider the image at left, while the actual size of the demonstrations were massive, the image was “heavily edited — cropped and mirrored — to multiply the size of the crowd.” It has gone viral with subsequent republications failing to mention the editing and cropping.
Then there is the omission of information, such as the purported funding of the protests in Hong Kong by the US government and a notorious CIA-affiliated NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy. This is backed by various western governments expressing sympathy for the Hong Kong protestors.
The often bandied-about criticisms concerning China are of authoritarianism, lack of democracy, and lack of freedom.
Is China authoritarian? China, through the Communist Party of China, defines itself as a state practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. It promotes as its core values: prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendliness. China practices utilitarianism aiming its policies at what best benefits the majority of its citizens. China promotes peace and harmony; it emphasizes diplomacy and avoidance of war.
To allays fears, Xi said in a speech in Berlin:
As China continues to grow, some people start to worry. Some take a dark view of China and assume that it will inevitably become a threat as it develops further. They even portray China as being the terrifying Mephisto who will someday suck the soul of the world. Such absurdity couldn’t be more ridiculous, yet some people, regrettably, never tire of preaching it. This shows prejudice is indeed hard to overcome….
The pursuit of peace, amity and harmony is an integral part of the Chinese character which runs deep in the blood of the Chinese people. This can be evidenced by axioms from ancient China such as: “A warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually perish.”5
Democracy? Wei Ling Chua in his book, Democracy: What the West Can Learn from China, sought to compare and contrast the effectiveness of western and Chinese political systems scientifically. The assumption is that the well-being of the citizenry is the raison d’être of a government. To determine this, Chua gauged government responsiveness to the needs of the people during a disaster. The response of the Australian and American governments compared unfavorably with the Chinese government’s response to disasters. Chua writes this is because “… the culture and beliefs of the Communist Party in China is more people-oriented than those of the capitalist elites in the West.”6 Besides, what democracy did Hong Kong enjoy under British until the time of a handover approached? Is not the imposition of colonial status through war to facilitate opium exports a total abnegation of democracy and freedom?7
I have lived in China for a number of years, and I feel just as free here as anywhere. Of course, I wouldn’t stand on a soapbox with a megaphone and shout anti-China slogans, but I wouldn’t do that anywhere about that country’s government. The right to peaceful protest, however, should be respected. The Chinese people around me do not complain of feeling unfree. As already stated, there is censorship. Very few people here are aware of the protests taking place in Hong Kong. But freedom is not just about speech. What about freedom from poverty? One in five Hong Kongers live in poverty, a number that is on the increase in Hong Kong. Contrariwise, the year 2020 is targeted as the year that poverty is eliminated in China.
Charles Chow (pseudonym for an American who lives on and off in Hong Kong) gave his perspective:
The big issue isn’t the [extradition] bill at all or even the relative lack of democracy in Hong Kong…. It’s two fundamental issues that have existed since the colonial era, but worsened since the handover: a growing wealth gap and the lack of affordable housing. The government hasn’t done much to resolve them and neither has China. Their failure to tackle these problems has made Hong Kongers less trustful of them and more irritable overall. Therefore, even small controversies will point back to these bigger issues.
I agree with Chow’s identification of two fundamental issues. However, I fail to see why in a one country, two systems situation that Beijing should be held responsible for the resolution of problems associated with the Hong Kong system of governance. Moreover, the yawning chasm in the percentage of those living in poverty under the system in Hong Kong versus the system in mainland China (under 1%, for a much larger territory with a huge population, therefore, posing greater challenges for effective governance) suggests the Hong Kong system is majorly flawed in at least one important aspect.
Now it’s 22 years after the handover–an entire generation has passed. The legacy of colonialism will linger for a while, but the current government has had two decades to resolve any problem the British left behind. Hong Kong’s economy is still robust, but its gains have been unequally distributed.8
Its housing prices are just obscene–especially given the size and build quality of the properties they represent. Neither problem shows any sign of abating and both are, in fact, getting worse. Thus, even some Hong Kongers who are pro-Beijing have expressed concern over both problems because they know neither discriminates by political affiliation. Where they differ from the pro-democracy crowd is how to resolve them.
The pro-democracy folks believe giving more people a say in how Hong Kong operates (in other words, more democracy) is the solution. The pro-Beijing folks think the current government, along with China, should be able to do something. But this government, beholden as it is to the tycoons and China (such an odd couple), isn’t going to tackle these problems. Because it won’t, it has created a growing body of restless Hong Kongers, many of whom were once apolitical and probably even opposed Occupy in 2014.
It didn’t have to be this way. In a fairer world, Hong Kong would have a manageable wealth gap and be able to provide affordable housing for most of its people. In such a scenario, even most people who aren’t crazy about China would accept its sovereignty and foreign attempts to get them to protest Chinese rule would go nowhere.
Even if an extradition bill were proposed, there’d be fewer people showing a concern over it.
Imagine if a country were to invade and occupy Hawai’i for the next century9, after which Hawai’i would be semi-liberated from occupation. Would Hawaiians wish to rejoin the US? Might not new systems, cultures, and languages have been injected during the occupation/colonization have affected the mindset of the later generations?
The roots of the opposition that many Hong Kongers feel toward the extradition bill arguably lies further back in history. Clear-minded logic leads to the realization that if Britain had not started the Opium Wars (a crime of aggression) and occupied Hong Kong, thus severing Hong Kong from Beijing’s rule, there never would have been a need for the difficulties that arise from the one country, two systems currently in place. A de facto city-state would never have been able to become a haven for fugitives from the central government. Hong Kong would have remained a part of China. The same logic holds true in the case of Taiwan. If Japan had not occupied Taiwan, and if the US had not intervened to protect the Guomindang remnants that fled across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan would likeliest have remained a part of China to this day.
The source of the current tensions in Hong Kong did not originate in Beijing (unless one blames Beijing for being too militarily weak to protect its territorial integrity and prevent its citizens from being transformed into drug addicts).
This is missing from much of the western corporate-state media news. While China seeks to safeguard sovereignty over its landmass, Britain holds fast to its enclave in Northern Ireland. It ignores justice and maintains an ethnic cleansing that it and the US imposed on the people of the Chagos archipelago. The US itself is a nation erected through the denationalization of Indigenous nations.10
How is it then that western nations and their western media have a moral leg to stand on when criticizing other nations, such as China, for fear of criminality that pale in comparison to those crimes that the western nations have committed?
Can two million marchers be wrong? They are not wrong about the right to march or the right to protest. Are they wrong to oppose the extradition of persons for serious offenses to China? Are they wrong to fear China? Do they genuinely fear China? This fear of mainland China is seemingly so negligible that 6.9 million of the 7.4 million Hong Kongers hold a Homeland Return Permit to ease travel to and from China. Is it sensible for people to travel to a jurisdiction that they fear?
The comparison is stark.
Compare protesting the launching of a war wherein upwards of 600,000 people were killed11 (now being killed that is something that most people fear) to protesting the upholding of law to ensure murderers should face justice. If, indeed, China is governed by a scofflaw government, then there is a justification for having fear. But before casting final judgement, western countries ought to look deeply into the mirror, the mirror that reflects the not-so-long-ago devastations of Palestine, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other lands. China’s last battles were with India and Viet Nam many decades ago. The Communist Party of China (CPC) states an abhorrence of wars and promotes peaceful resolution of differences.5
The CPC acknowledges that it is dependent on the support of the people; without it the party will fall. The CPC’s raison d’être is the well-being of the people, what is called the Chinese Dream.
It would be foolish and contradictory for Beijing to upset Hong Kongers. Harmony is, after all, a core value of socialism. The one country, two systems is due to expire in 2047. Likewise, Hong Kong has nothing to gain from irritating Beijing. However, should Hong Kong integrate into the economic system of China, it stands to see the elimination of poverty in the former British colony.
Said Bush, “First of all, you know, size of protests–it’s like deciding, `Well, I’m going to decide policy based upon a focus group.’ The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon, in this case, the security of the people.”
As revealed in the Downing Street Memo. The website, however, no longer is accessible. The page reads: This Account has been suspended. The memo is available at this pdf.
See Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani, Genocide in Iraq: The Case Against the UN Security Council and Member States. Review.
“We should address the people’s proper and lawful demands on matters affecting their interests, and improve the institutions that are important for safeguarding their vital interests.” Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014): 35%.
Xi Jinping, “China’s Commitment to Peaceful Development” in The Governance of China: 35%.
Wei Ling Chua, Democracy: What the West Can Learn from China (2013): location 1214. Review.