‘Hands Off Hong Kong.’ The Cry That Seldom Is Heard.

Through the summer the world has watched as protests shook Hong Kong. As early as April they began as peaceful demonstrations which peaked in early June, with hundreds of thousands, in protest of an extradition bill. That bill would have allowed Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, to return criminals to Taiwan, mainland China or Macau for crimes committed there – after approval by multiple layers of the Hong Kong judiciary. In the wake of those enormous nonviolent demonstrations, Carrie Lam, CEO of Hong Kong, "suspended" consideration of the extradition bill, a face-saving ploy. To make sure she was understood, she declared it "dead." The large rallies, an undeniable expression of the peaceful will of a large segment of the Hong Kong population had won an impressive victory. The unpopular extradition bill was slain.

But that was not the end of the story. A smaller segment continued the protests. (The Hong Kong police at one point estimated 4,000 hard core protesters.) They pressed on with other demands, beginning with a demand that the bill be "withdrawn," not simply "suspended." To this writer death by "suspension" is every bit as terminal as death by "withdrawal." As this piece is sent to press, news comes that Corrie Lam has now formally withdrawn the bill.

As the summer passed, two iconic photos presented us with two human faces that captured two crucial features of the ongoing protests; they were not shown widely in the West.

First, Fu Guohao, a reporter for the Chinese mainland newspaper, Global Times, was attacked, bound and beaten by protesters during their takeover of the Hong Kong International Airport. When police and rescuers tried to free him, the protesters blocked them and also attempted to block the ambulance that eventually bore him off to the hospital. The photos and videos of this ugly sequence were seen by netizens across the globe even though given scant attention in Western media. Where were the stalwart defenders of the press in the US as this happened? As one example, DemocracyNow! (DN!) was completely silent as was the rest of the U.S. mainstream media.

Fu’s beating came after many weeks when the protesters threw up barriers to stop traffic; blocked closure of subway doors, in defiance of commuters and police, to shut down mass transit; sacked and vandalized the HK legislature building; assaulted bystanders who disagreed with them; attacked the police with Molotov cocktails; and stormed and defaced police stations. Fu’s ordeal and all these actions shown in photos on Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, a paper leaning to the side of protesters, gave the lie to the image of these "democracy activists" as young Ghandis of East Asia. (The South China Morning Post is based in Hong Kong and its readership is concentrated there so it has to have some reasonable fidelity in reporting events; otherwise it loses credibility – and circulation. Similarly, much as the New York Times abhorred Occupy Wall Street, it could not fail to report on it.)

Which brings us to the second photo, much more important to U.S. citizens, that of a "Political Counselor" at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong who in August was pictured meeting with, Joshua Long and Nathan Law, at a hotel there. The official was formerly a State Dept functionary in the Middle East – in Jerusalem, Riyadh, Beirut, Baghdad and Doha, certainly not an area lacking in imperial intrigues and regime change ops. That photo graphically contradicted the contention that there is no US "black hand," as China calls it, in the Hong Kong riots. In fact, here the "black hand" was caught red-handed, leading Chen Weihua, a very perceptive China Daily columnist, to tweet the picture with the comment: "This is very very embarrassing. … a US diplomat in Hong Kong, was caught meeting HK protest leaders. It would be hard to imagine the US reaction if a Chinese diplomat were meeting leaders of Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter or Never Trump protesters."

And that photo with the protest leaders is just a snap shot of the ample evidence of the hand of the U.S. government and its subsidiaries in the Hong Kong events. Perhaps the best documentation of the U.S. "black hand" is to be found in Dan Cohen’s superb article of August 17 in The Greyzone entitled, "Behind a made-for-TV Hong Kong protest narrative, Washington is backing nativism and mob violence." The article by Cohen deserves careful reading; it leaves little doubt that there is a very deep involvement of the US in the Hong Kong riots. Of special interest is the detailed role and funding, amounting to over $1.3 million, in Hong Kong alone in recent years, of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), ever on the prowl for new regime change opportunities. Perhaps most important, the leaders of the "leaderless" protests have met with major US political figures such as John Bolton, Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Senator Marco Rubio, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, Nancy Pelosi and others, all of whom have heartily endorsed their efforts. This is not to deny that the protests were home grown at the outset in response to what was widely perceived as a legitimate grievance. But it would be equally absurd to deny that the U.S. is fishing in troubled Hong Kong waters to advance its anti-China crusade and regime change ambitions.

That said, where is the U.S. peace movement on the question of Hong Kong?

Let us be clear. One can sympathize with the demand of many citizens of Hong Kong to end the extradition bill or even the other four demands: an inquiry into police handling of their protests; the retraction of a government characterization of the demonstrations as riots; an amnesty for arrested protesters; and universal suffrage. (The first three all grow out of violence of the protests, be it noted.) But that is the business of the citizens of Hong Kong and all the rest of China. It is not the business of the U.S. government. Peace activists in the US should be hard at work documenting and denouncing the US government’s meddling in Hong Kong, which could set us on the road to war with China, potentially a nuclear war. And that is a mission for which we in the U.S. are uniquely suited since, at least in theory, we have some control over our government.

So, we should expect to hear the cry, "US Government, Hands Off Hong Kong"? Sadly, with a few principled exceptions it is nowhere to be heard on either the left or right.

Let’s take DemocracyNow! (DN!) as one example, a prominent one on the "progressive" end of the spectrum. From April through August 28, there have been 25 brief accounts ("headlines" as DN! calls them, each amounting to a few paragraphs) of the events in Hong Kong and 4 features, longer supposedly analytic pieces, on the same topic. Transcripts of the four features are here, here, here and here. There is not a single mention of possible US involvement or the meetings of the various leaders of the protest movement with Pompeo, Bolton, Pence, or the "Political Counselor" of the US Hong Kong consulate.

And this silence on US meddling is true not only of most progressive commentators but also most conservatives.

On the Left when someone cries "Democracy," many forget all their pro-peace sentiment.  And similarly on the Right when someone cries "Communism," anti-interventionism too often goes down the tubes. Forgotten is John Quincy Adams’s 1823 dictum, endlessly quoted but little honored, "We do not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Where does this lapse on the part of activists come from? Is it a deep-seated loyalty to Empire, the result of endless indoctrination?  Is it U.S. Exceptionalism, ingrained to the point of unconsciousness? Or is it at bottom a question of who the paymasters are?

On both sides anti-interventionism takes an especially hard hit when it comes to major competitors of the US, powers that could actually stand in the way of US global hegemony, like Russia or China.  In fact on its August 12 program, DN! managed a story taking a swipe at Russia right next to the one on Hong Kong – and DN! was in the forefront of advancing the now debunked and disgraced Russiagate Conspiracy Theory. In contrast, the anti-interventionist movement is front and center when it comes to weaker nations, for example Venezuela – and quite properly so. But when one puts this advocacy for weaker nations together with the New Cold War stance on China and Russia, one must ask what is going on here. Does it betoken a sort of imperial paternalism on the part of DN and like-minded outlets? It certainly gains DN!, and others like it, considerable credibility among anti-interventionists which can help win them to a position in favor of DN!’s New Cold War stance. And the masters of Empire certainly understand how valuable such credibility can be at crucial moments when support for their adventures is needed from every quarter.

Fortunately, there are a handful of exceptions to this New Cold War attitude. For example, on the left Popular Resistance has provided a view of the events in Hong Kong and a superb interview with K.J. Noh that go beyond the line of the State Department, the mainstream media and DN! And on the libertarian Right there is the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and the work of its Executive Director Dan McAdams.

We would all do well to follow the example of these organizations in rejecting a New Cold War mentality which is extremely dangerous, perhaps fatally so. A good beginning for us in the U.S. is to demand of our government, "Hands Off Hong Kong."

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

18 thoughts on “‘Hands Off Hong Kong.’ The Cry That Seldom Is Heard.”

  1. You’re wrong about DN. I listen to DemocracyNow! daily and I remember Amy Goodman talking about the incident. It’s been several weeks now and don’t remember many details but I remember it because at the time I was listening, I was thinking it was not a good look for the Hong Kong democracy movement. But frankly, in any large gathering of people there are bound to be folks that take things too far so acting as if this is some sort of eye-opening incident quite frankly isn’t.

    1. What incident? Fu? Subsidiary point. A search of the archives provides no indication it was raised. So you are wrong
      Provide the link – put your money where your verbal orifice is -or do not waste our time.

      The point of the piece is that DN has not so much as raised a peep about anti-interventionism, Hands Off Hong Kong. Nor has it mentioned the tons of info showing US meddling in HK – no headline, no story.

      Four points to the piece:
      1.Protests are violent.
      2.US deeply involved.
      3.Goodman does not cover that meddling.
      4.DN is only one example. The so-called progressive peace movement is not anti-interventionist – and so it is neither pro-peace nor pro- democracy, the latter not possible when outside forces meddle. (Think of the Russiagate claims on that last point on democracy, my freind.)

  2. I believe the lady listed on that property was 67 or so but it didn’t state Mikhail himself’s age? Computer Science Mikhail, looking at his Resume/degrades, would be about 41 now

  3. At the beginning of the riots, I was a vocal supporter of the Hong Kong protesters. I still hold on to the Rothbardian dream of an ancap pirate utopia in that city which has always served as a sanctuary for international outlaws (Edward Snowden didn’t pick the city because of it’s dumplings.) But as the weeks have gone by and the evidence has stacked up, it has become grotesquely apparent to me that the Hong Kong protests have been usurped by the same State Department gangsters who handed Ukraine over to the neo-Nazis. This is no longer a protest or even a riot, its a goddamn coup and the people behind it have a well known bias against democracy and statelessness.

    1. I can’t think offhand of a movement or civil disturbance of any real size in the world that the US regime DOESN’T immediately start meddling in. And I wish that would stop.

      On the other hand, I also wish that the people of Hong Kong had the means to tell Beijing to go f–k itself and make it stick.

      1. And I wish that the people of China (and Venezuela and Syria and Libya and Iran and Cuba and Russia on an on) had the means to tell Washington to go f**k itself and make it stick. But maybe that day is at hand.
        Your sentiments about HK are admirable – on the surface. But we do not understand in any deep way whether the majority of HK want to tell Beijing to f**k itself or whether that is part of a longer process of meddling. So I will leave the determination of such sentiments to them.
        And I will wish instead that we had the means to tell our government to go f**k itself and make it stick.

        1. Just to be clear, I would like for all people everywhere to have the means to tell all state actors to go f**k themselves and make it stick.

          Hopefully that will be a feature of some of the institutions beginning to arise as the Westphalian Model nation-state paradigm continues its disintegration.

        1. This is why democracy doesn’t seem to work: It’s too open. The only way for a foreign polity to be free of the US as well as likely Russia, China, Israel and others is to have a less open society.

          I don’t understand how your anarchy could work when foreign governments would just step in.

          1. Drop out. Power is an illusion. Create a society that doesn’t rely on outside resources then wait for the empire to collapse as empires always do. The Amish never experienced the Great Depression. People in South Yemen don’t need single-payer because Hezbollah provides a completely adequate and voluntary stateless welfare system. When Syria collapsed beneath the weight of ISIS, Rojava thrived. A tribe is a nation who’s strength is defined by it’s lack of borders and regulations. The oldest successful society is the Bushmen of the Kalahari, who’s society has existed without war since the Stone Age. Think small. Succession and Balkanization. Disintegrate the state.

          2. The Amish require land and other resources, as do the Bushmen. You think too much like an American: plentiful resources. Stateless charity only works in conservative areas.

            For many, that’s not a reasonable alternative, and it requires a lower standard of living. Farmers can also starve in bad years; most dont want that risk.

            You have good ideas in your post; the above are just counters.

          3. And they’re all valid. There’s no such thing as perfect. But I live in Amish country. I know anarchism works because I’ve seen it first hand, and I’m not the only one. There are examples across the globe. The state is a rather recent abnormality produced in a time of empire and decay. There was a time before the state and, if humanity has any hope for survival, there will be a time after it.

          4. Population densities are too high. I know the resident anarchist moderator believes, without much argument, in anarchy under all circumstances. But the reality is you have a lower carrying capacity for the sort of ideas you’re wanting. Those societies tend to produce many children and to ultimately limit their population size via Malthusian limits.

            Bushmen have survived presumably because no good use could be made of their land; so there was no point in others’ taking what they had. It couldn’t be used.

            Some of the earliest states were in Sumeria. There is a history to them. If I recall correctly, not only Sumerians but also Hindus attempted to preserve small states, to oppose empire. But then that failed. And if someone corrects me on this, it’s likely because they haven’t read what I’m thinking of. The Hindus condemned absorbing another state in a conquest, and the Sumerians had a similar policy. That’s very interesting to me. Ultimately, empires seem to arise though. Christianity might have encouraged smaller polities in Europe.

          5. You sure do believe you know a lot of things. The things you believe you know about me aren’t necessarily any more true than the nonsense you believe you know about politics and economics.

          6. I appreciate the replies, but you just don’t seem to justify your positioning. It’s more like standard replies than an attempt at explanation and rebuttal. It gives the impression at times that you don’t even believe what you argue.

            You seem to be a wonderful moderator; the idea arguments just aren’t there.

          7. I’m not even sure what you think I’m “arguing.”

            If you want to talk about population densities, the US ranks 146th in the world. It has a lower population density than Afghanistan (128th), Yemen (116th) or Nepal (50th), and all four have wildly different social milieus and political systems. “Population densities are too high for [political idea I don’t like]” isn’t an argument, it’s a nonsensical statement that falls apart if you look at a map or crack a newspaper.

          8. Afghanistan is not stateless. The US is quite dense in areas. Alaska is too cold and barren to develop like New Jersey. Dense populations require management. Economy of scale requires management.

            Charity as Comrade wants requires community and thus rootedness (not open transience). And as Aristotle and many others have noted, community ties tend to break down in overly large cities. What he wants is two systems without realizing it.

            These are arguments you just ignore. “Government is bad” is all you seem to ever say.

            The instability in Hong Kong is caused in part by wealth disparity. Aristotle knows this. You seem to hide from that law of politics: Economic inequality leads to instability, especially in a dense city like Hong Kong. A less dense population, such as rural America, can tolerate some inequality.

          9. “Economy of scale requires management.”

            Interesting assertion. I’d be interested if there’s any evidence for it — and if there’s any evidence for the implicit proposition that “management” implies “top-down coercive administration.”

            “‘Government is bad’ is all you seem to ever say.”

            Well, except that I never say that. Four people ordering pizza together are an ad hoc “government.” What I oppose is the Westphalian Model nation-state. There’s a difference.

            “These are arguments you just ignore.”

            Bald assertions offered without evidence aren’t “arguments.”

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