Think twice before commenting on disturbances in Hong Kong
2019/11/19

On 19 November 2019, The Australian Financial Review published a signed article Think twice before commenting on disturbances in Hong Kong by Mr. Wang Xining, Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China to Australia. The full text is as follows:

Television news has lately been awash with violent scenes in Hong Kong. Public utilities and shops are vandalised. Public transport and streets are blocked. Train carriages are set on fire. Passengers are assaulted by masked black-shirts. University campuses are ransacked. Women are brutalised. A 70-year-old street cleaner lost his life after being hit by a brick. A man who opposed violence was badly burnt after the mob soaked him with combustible liquid.

However, Western reporters and commentators never label the perpetrators as criminals.

The Hong Kong police exercised maximum restraint under a rain of stones and sticks, Molotov cocktails, shots from catapults and arrows fired by archers, blinding laser beams, and in a number of cases, attempted lethal slashes at their bodies. Information on their families is exposed, and their safety threatened.

Someone claimed that they would throw out of a window the 10-year-old daughter of a police officer who shot someone attempting to steal his gun. The performance of the Hong Kong police was highly praised by professional police forces around the world including in Australia, where police recently handled the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations with similar skill and discipline. But they are constantly questioned and berated by Western media and politicians.

Thugs in the streets try to equate their extreme tactics with peaceful protests in defence of democracy and rule of law. But their actions blatantly counteract and undermine democracy and the rule of law.

People tend to blame the incumbent government for grievances in daily life, but it was the opposition in the Hong Kong legislature that thwarted rounds of proposals by the executive to restructure the city's economy and improve its resilience against growing competition.

People believe universal suffrage would be a panacea, despite being not, but it was the opposition that in 2015 blocked legislation giving every Hong Konger a vote for their chief executive. People attribute the outbreak of conflict to the proposed amendment to extradition legal instruments, but it was the opposition headed by Martin Lee that vehemently advocated an extradition agreement with the mainland back in 1998.

Had the opposition really cared about the well-being of Hong Kong and its people, there would not have been so many selfcontradictory moves. It is hard to believe that any Australian Liberal or Labor politician could win confidence from their electorate by such flip-flopping politics.

Ultimately, it is the special administrative region's government–which has always held dear the interests of all Hong Kong residents including the straying youngsters, has enjoyed strong support from the central government and whole nation, and opened a cross-sector dialogue to de-escalate tension and boost solidarity–that will work out solutions to the current social turmoil and lingering economic conundrum.

Abetting violence and radicalism will not bring Hong Kong freedom and democracy, let alone stability and prosperity. It will metamorphose into another case of the ''colour revolutions'' that have brought disasters to many other regions in the world, and make Hong Kong a bridgehead to disrupt China's growth and a sacrilege to distrust ''one country, two systems''.

Unfortunately, a bunch of Western political figures and forces, either out of prejudice and bias or harbouring sinister motives, have been adding fuel to the flames by conniving with troublemakers or rendering support to law-breakers, which already backfired on the occasion of several demonstrations in some Western cities.

Hong Kong is part of China. After recovering its sovereignty from the heirs of the British Empire, who around the time of its cession also sent many convicts to Australia for petty theft, it is absolutely not possible for the Chinese people to tolerate its separation or independence. Hong Kong is home to 100,000 Australian expatriates. It serves Australia's interest to see the city returning to peace and order as early as possible, an effort in which external interference will not help.

The most pressing task for Hong Kong is to bring violence and chaos to an end and restore order, as Chinese President Xi Jinping recently said. It is indeed a daunting task for Hong Kong. It is also a challenging task for outsiders to grapple with the issue's complexity and establish a thorough understanding and fair assessment. Naivety, hypocrisy or partiality will not work. Before commenting on Hong Kong, think twice. Think thrice.

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E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
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