Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Washington, please leave Hong Kong alone

  • The US, which is forever intervening in other sovereign countries, from outright invasion and occupation, to staging coups d’etat and imposing severe economic sanctions, not to mention the occasional assassinations, kidnappings and torture, complains Beijing is interfering too much in Hong Kong, a Chinese city no less

Departing United States Consul General Hanscom Smith said Beijing should let “Hong Kong be Hong Kong”. The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China wants to sanction mid-level local officials, the new justice secretary and prosecutors for, well, whatever. Yes, they are talking about Hong Kong, a Chinese city. US officials’ incessant finger-pointing at the city and Beijing is becoming a sick joke.

Admittedly, parent China and child Hong Kong have hit a rough patch lately. And yes, it’s always the parent’s fault. But then, a violent serial child abuser comes along and picks on the Chinese family in the name of child protection. This is just too rich!

The US is a country that has been forever intervening in other sovereign states, from outright invasion and occupation, to staging coups d’etat, carrying out assassinations, kidnappings and torture, and severe economic sanctions that have killed hundreds of thousands of children, for example, in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, not to say malnourished many more, and to destroying whole economies, from Afghanistan to Venezuela.

John Bolton, the former national security adviser under Donald Trump, admitted this week during a CNN appearance to planning coups d’etat against foreign governments.

When the network host said, “One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup,” Bolton disagreed. “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat ― not here but, you know, other places ― it takes a lot of work,” Bolton said.

People well-versed in US history and politics know the country’s foreign policy is all about interfering with other countries left, right and centre, from outright organised violence to more diplomatic means. It’s almost always claimed to be done in the interests of the local population but inevitably ended in their detriment, if not physical destruction.

Still, it’s nice to have someone like Bolton to admit it on national US media.

Is the US really concerned about Hong Kong and its freedom and well-being? It is, of course, another typical case of interfering in another society by exploiting its social instabilities and domestic problems, and then using human rights and freedom as a kill-all weapon to gain leverage over that country. It’s standard operating procedure for the US foreign policy establishment, whether it’s of the left or right, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

And of course, Washington can always find some useful local idiots to complain about their own society and offer excuses or even invitations for the US to intervene.

Hong Kong accuses US commission of ‘cheap, bullying behaviour’ over sanctions report

The latest includes several who testified this week before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which has become the official propaganda organ of the US Congress against China: Patrick Poon of the Institute of Comparative Law at Meiji University; Fermi Wong, founder and former executive director of the NGO Unison in Hong Kong; Ching Cheong, veteran dissident journalist; and Samuel Bickett, a fellow at Georgetown Centre for Asian Law. Bickett has resurfaced to become a “human rights lawyer”. He used to work for a big bank in Hong Kong but was jailed briefly for assaulting a police officer during the civil unrest of 2019. In the US, he would have been shot by the cop. But somehow he thinks Hong Kong police are worse.

Personally, if I were one of those people, I might run to a more neutral family service to complain about parent and child China and Hong Kong, say, at the United Nations. But, unless you have an axe to grind, running to a violent serial child abuser with sinister designs on the family is hardly advisable.

In a new book, The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future, Canadian author Stephen Marche warned the collapse of the American democratic experiment would be bad for freedom everywhere. I find his claim bizarre.

“It would be a lie, an evil lie, to say that the American experiment did not give the world a glorious and transcendent vision of human beings: worth affirming in their differences, vital in their contradiction,” Marche wrote. “That is still a vision of human existence worth fighting for.”

There are plenty of successful democracies around the world, none of which is constantly looking for monsters abroad to slay, and in doing so, becomes a monster itself.

And, radicals of the 19th century and Marxist revolutionaries in the 20th gave the world “a glorious and transcendent vision of human beings”, too: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Leon Trotsky once wrote that people of the socialist future would be physically taller and stronger, and more intelligent from universal education. He was no doubt thinking about those long passages in volume one of Karl Marx’s Capital about stunted and malnourished young children being worked to death in 19th century British industrial factories.

We are all happy to see Soviet totalitarianism being consigned to the dustbin of history. But there is no denying that without those radicals and Marxists of the past two centuries, there would have been no social democracy and the welfare state after the second world war.

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Thomas Jefferson wrote those inspired words of the Declaration of Independence; he also owned hundreds of black slaves. Obviously, the concepts of liberty and happiness did not apply to slaves who were not fully human.

The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights will long remain the ideal expressions of freedom and democracy. Too bad their progenies are now tearing apart the republic they have inherited and are exporting militarism and hegemonic destruction around the world in the very name of liberty. I was going to write that it’s just Orwellian, but it’s actually deeper. It’s more akin to what Hegel calls the cunning of history or reason, when every idea or ideal, carried to extreme, becomes its very opposite.

Now, in the US, the chickens are coming home to roost. Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election and remain in power, leading to the January 6, 2021, riots at the Capitol, is a clear warning of worse to come. In a functioning democracy, he would be in jail. In the US, he is more than likely to be the Republican candidate for president again. Go figure.

US politicians should tend to their own backyard. It’s in enough trouble as it is.