Hong Kong’s opposition unites with Washington hardliners to ‘preserve the US’s own political and economic interests’

by | Nov 22, 2019


On November 19th, the US Senate unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.” Despite loudly proclaiming to protect “human rights” and “democracy,” a closer look at this legislation reveals the imperial agenda underlying Washington’s actions in Hong Kong.

Behind its humanitarian cloak, the Senate bill advances the threat of sanctions to impose Washington’s foreign policy interests on China and the region while turning up the heat on North Korea and Iran. At the same time, the bill pledged to “safeguard United States businesses in Hong Kong.”

The legislation is a long-term project of neoconservatives and leading Hong Kong opposition activists like Joshua Wong, a protest poster boy who has been present in meetings in Washington to develop the sanctions legislation since November 2016.

In fact, the act was passed in the immediate wake of a lobbying junket to the US by prominent Hong Kong opposition figures, including Wong.

The September visit highlighted the opposition’s close bond with Washington, as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – the engine of the US regime change machine – recruited Hong Kong opposition leaders onto board of a new DC-based anti-China front called the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC).

“I credit Senator Rubio’s unwavering leadership in demanding action from the full Senate for today’s passage of S1838 by unanimous consent,” HKDC managing director Samuel Chu declared.

While claiming to be struggling for Hong Kong’s “self-determination.” the opposition is openly coordinating with Washington, and aiming at nothing less than surrendering Hong Kong to the US’s geo-strategic agenda.

Hong Kong activists and Congress push legislation to advance US regional interests

Joshua Wong testifies before Congress in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on September 17, 2019

During an international tour to build support for the Hong Kong protests, Wong and several prominent opposition figures traveled to Washington in September to lobby Congress to “take action” against China.

As Dan Cohen reported for The Grayzone, Wong has been previously “trumpeted in Western media as a ‘freedom campaigner,’ promoted to the English-speaking world through his own Netflix documentary, and rewarded with the backing of the US government.”

Testifying on Capitol Hill before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) headed by neoconservative Senator Marco Rubio, Wong and others lobbied US lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

The legislation would amend the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which governs US relations with Hong Kong. The new act would direct the US government to regularly assess and certify “whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China”.

Yet according to the act, the question of Hong Kong’s autonomy appears to directly correspond to how closely the city toes the line of Washington’s foreign policy agenda. First, the bill requires the US government to closely scrutinize whether Hong Kong “enforce[s] sanctions imposed by the United States” against North Korea and Iran in particular, along with any other country that Washington deems “present a threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.”

Second, the act requires the US government to closely scrutinize whether Hong Kong enforces US export control laws and trade policy in relation to China, aiming to “safeguard United States businesses in Hong Kong from economic coercion and intellectual property theft.”

If the US government finds that such “fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong” are being undermined — i.e., that Hong Kong is not sufficiently advancing the interests of US foreign policy, in terms of sanctions against Officially Designated Enemies and the Trump administration’s trade war with China — the new act provides legal justification for the US to impose sanctions on China.

By working with Washington to pressure Hong Kong into aligning with US foreign policy or face an escalation in economic warfare, the opposition has discredited it own claims to be fighting for “autonomy,” or “self-determination.” Indeed, its willingness to sacrifice the city’s independence to Washington’s imperial interests in the region has been laid bare.

Tacitly endorsing lethal Hong Kong street violence

The Senate legislation also exposes Washington’s tacit endorsement of the increasingly violent actions of protesters. Hong Kong opposition lobbyists have worked with Washington to “strengthen the bill” by removing the requirement that protesters be “peaceful” in order to apply for US visas without obstruction. This provision makes it abundantly easier for violent protesters to flee to the US

Sunny Cheung, an opposition activist who testified before Congress alongside Wong, cheerfully declared that “this strengthened version [of the US congressional bill was] the achievement of Hong Kong’s various lobbying groups.”

In recent weeks, Hong Kong protesters have murdered a 70-year old street cleaner with a brick, attempted to murder another resident who disagreed with them by setting him on fire, made use of molotov cocktails and flaming arrows, and developed bombs using propane tanks. By offering impunity to those who commit such extreme violence, Hong Kong opposition lobbyists and the US government have signaled their tacit approval of these ghastly acts and many more to come.

Hong Kong activists unite with NED and US regime change establishment

HKDC press conference with Joshua Wong, Denise Ho in Washington on October 29

The opposition’s symbiotic relationship with Washington was further underscored by the establishment of a brand new Hong Kong lobbying organization in Washington.

Known as the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), the lobbying front has brought leading Hong Kong activists together with prominent members of Washington’s foreign policy establishment with the aim of “pushing the US to uphold its commitment to Hong Kong’s basic freedoms and autonomy and to preserve the US’s own political and economic interests in Hong Kong.”

This nakedly imperialist language further highlights how far the Hong Kong opposition has strayed from its stated mission to preserve “autonomy” and “self-governance.”

HKDC was launched on September 16, 2019 with Wong and other Hong Kong opposition figures attending the opening reception. The organization features a number of prominent Hong Kong activists as board members.

The include:

Joseph Ng, a senior software engineer at US weapons manufacturer Leidos, formerly known as SAIC, whose top client is the US Department of Defense.

Samuel M. Chu, son of the Rev. Chu Yiu Ming, a veteran and leading pro-democracy organizer in Hong Kong who was the co-founder of Occupy Central that led to the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

In addition, the advisory board features leading movement figures such as:

Nathan Law, who along with Wong and other activists co-founded the political party Demosistō in 2016.

Lee Cheuk Yan, a long-time Hong Kong politician and member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1995 to 2016

Alex Yong-Kang Chow, former secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students during the 2014 Umbrella Movement.

Jeffrey Ngo, Chief Researcher and standing committee member for Demosistō

This group of leading Hong Kong activists, politicians and Demosistō party members advocating “self-determination” have joined with leading figures of Washington’s regime change establishment. The majority of HKDC’s advisory board is made up of members of the NED, the Open Society Foundations of anti-communist billionaire George Soros, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Freedom House.

These figures include:

Michael C. Davis, a global fellow at the US government funded Woodrow Wilson International Center and previously the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (2016-2017).

Larry Diamond
, senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy, and author of the recently published Russiagate tract, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency. During the so-called Arab Spring, Diamond worked to influence the Middle Eastern and North African uprisings in support of US geo-strategic interests, while co-opting progressive political space through now-defunct projects like the “Free Arabs” web magazine.

Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China (HRIC), long-time grantee of the NED. Hom testified before Congress alongside Joshua Wong and Denise Ho in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

Jerome A. Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, which as The Grayzone has detailed, is one of the most prominent think tanks promoting US foreign policy interests.

Andrew J. Nathan, a member and former chair of the board for the NED-funded organization, Human Rights in China, and a member of the board of the NED.

Thomas E. Kellogg, former Director of the East Asia Program at the Open Society Foundations of anti-communist billionaire George Soros. At OSF, he oversaw the expansion of the Foundation’s work in China and also launched its work on Taiwan and North and South Korea.

Annie Wilcox Boyajian, Director of Advocacy at Freedom House, which as The Grayzone has previously noted is “a notorious right-wing lobby group almost entirely bankrolled by Washington that is heavily invested in regime-change operations against foreign adversaries.”

The tight coordination between the Hong Kong opposition and the regime change-obsessed US foreign policy establishment is now undeniable. Far from righteous freedom fighters struggling for “self-determination”, leaders of the Hong Kong opposition have mobilized behind a singular goal of handing over their city to Washington’s imperial agenda.

Reprinted with permission from The Grayzone Project.
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