• Wed
  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Updated: 8:02am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Beijing's double standards on diplomatic 'meddling'

Martin Murphy condemns the hypocrisy over frequent attacks on US

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 3:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 7:15pm

John F. Kennedy once said, "No matter how big the lie, repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth."

China's officials, mouthpieces and supporters should know what he was talking about. Their thinking is that if they accuse foreign powers of "intervening" or "meddling" in Hong Kong's affairs often enough, people will start to believe it.

Beijing's recent complaints about US Vice-President Joe Biden meeting two stalwarts from Hong Kong's democracy camp were the latest in a litany of accusations of "US meddling" in Hong Kong's affairs.

As in the recent case, China's attacks follow a predictable pattern. They fly fast and furious any time a US official or politician utters even the most innocuous statement on Hong Kong's political development or a member of Hong Kong's so-called opposition meets a US official.

The problem is that the harangues have become so formulaic and shrill that they have lost any meaning or connection to real world events. Foreign governments usually laugh them off. The attacks remind both Hongkongers and the international community that China still has miles to go in developing sophisticated soft power diplomacy, even in its own backyard.

But more than anything, the finger pointing represents a double standard. Just scan the various official websites of China's diplomatic missions around the world and you will see Chinese officials doing their job. In the US, they are meeting business leaders, community representatives, and opposition and ruling party officials from the halls of Congress to city hall.

On one site, the Chinese consul general in Texas is congratulating a local politician on his election victory, but the US is told to keep quiet on Hong Kong's elections.

On another, the Chinese consul general in Chicago is shown meeting, earlier this year, US congressman Kerry Bentivolio, one of the Republican Party's staunchest conservatives.

Known for his anti-Obama positions, Bentivolio made himself famous last year for declaring, "it would be a dream come true" if he could write a bill to get President Barack Obama impeached.

Whether intended or not, Beijing seems to be saying that it's OK for its officials to meet opponents of the US president, even those calling for his removal from office, but if a US official wants to meet a Hong Kong pan-democrat, even those no longer holding any official position, it is to be condemned.

And the Chinese government is no stranger to commenting on other countries' internal affairs. China now issues its own report on alleged US violations of human rights, earlier this year accusing the US of having a poor civil rights record, lack of press and internet freedoms and a growing income gap.

Beijing has similarly shown no shyness in criticising the US for its budget problems and trade policies.

But none of this has lessened China's own long-held paranoia about "foreign meddling" in Hong Kong, which reached a high point in 2010 after Wikileaks released hundreds of US diplomatic cables.

Far from showing the US interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, the leaked cables simply documented what diplomats from every nation do - work to foster better relations, meet officials and citizens from all walks of political, economic and social life and seek areas for greater co-operation, while trying to minimise conflict.

If that is "meddling", then China's officials in the US might want to be doing a bit more of it themselves. The future of US-China relations depends on it.

Martin Murphy is a former US diplomat. He was head of the economic-political section at the US Consulate in Hong Kong from 2009-12


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This article is now closed to comments

A Kuro
Martin Murphy for once is right as far as meddling is concerned. China needs to meddle more in US affairs for example it should hold hearings on the Edward Snowden affair. It should allow Blacks, Muslims and American Indians or just about anybody to sue the US government at a special human rights court in China for violating their human rights. China should sanction US government officials, companies for massive spying and breaking international laws.
Martin Murphy is a hypocrite. That wouldn't be so bad if the US was a broken country like Iraq but it isn't. It has the potential and ability to create trouble everywhere it goes. Ukraine was still peaceful until Biden went to Kiev and immediately something akin to civil war breaks out. The US treats her minorities worse than most countries certainly worst than China. Why don't you talk about the dismal state of human rights to the Hispanics, Blacks and Native Americans and see whether the US is indeed so wonderful! The US positions is such that it is prepared to support tyrants, despots, devil worshippers on the one hand and goes all out on a War on Muslims on the other. It is US meddling and double standards that make US unable to differentiate between what's right or wrong. Hitler said a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. Only that Hitler ended up in the dustbin of history. US lies and belligerence as predicted in the Bible will result in all the prostitute countries abandoning the Great Satan.
The CCP will complain about what it wants to complain about, and the net effect will be that the US will continue to meet who the US wants to meet. Besides, any chance to see CCP foreign ministry talking heads like Hong Lei get his knickers in a twist should be savoured.
The relentless CCP whining is the equivalent of crying wolf...when you whine all the time, other countries just tune it out. However, for the purposes of domestic consumption, the CCP has to keep whining because PRC citizens have come to expect it...and to not whine would suddenly disturb the tenuous "harmony" that they have fostered at home.
How About
To Martin Murphy:
You were in HK so presumably you ought to know what Martin Lee and Anson Chan stand for. And it wasn't about a meeting per se, but the symbolism of any meeting on the cusps of a critical consultation on the 2017 CE nomination. So using the fallacy-logic-101 to denounce meeting-in-general happens as China’s double standard makes poor rebut, also nicely avoided the question whether USA intends to interfere in HKSAR governance by giving that meeting its publicity.
USA’s system isn’t necessary the model answer for HKSAR, both USA and the stalwarts ought to know this very well. What’s more the 1-country 2-system governance is still a work-in-progress in China-HKSAR.
Outside of a colony-setting, this 1C-2S has never been attempted in history of political-governance, so any well-meaning superpower not intending to counter China’s Rise, should provide guidance or criticisms in a constructive manner, as supposed to what amounts to blatant grandstanding to an adversarial showdown/gridlock between the governed and its sovereign/suzerain.
While I agree with the facts/ history cited by the two posters before me, US double standards don't make Chinese double standards ok. Otherwise it's a race to the bottom.
China should strive to be be better than the US.
Jonathan Smith
Martin Murphy is another disingenuous ex-diplomat. Just like the under secretary of state Victoria Nulan (F the EU), US diplomacy is like a kiss od death. It was US lies about non-existent WMD in Iraq that allowed the US to invade Iraq and destroy it. In the case of cyber security we now know from the Snowden exposure that again it is the US which is spying massively. The US harangues and double standards on human rights, terrorism have become so formulaic and shrill that they have lost any meaning or connection to real world events. Always the case of the pot calling the kettle black.
author should realize America been doing such meddling way way before China ever did and much much more often. Author must lack long term memory and short term history


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