A seemingly uninformed but dangerous statement was made by some “experts,” including Philippine Sen. Francisco Pangilinan who recently said the Hong Kong protestors were peaceful and defending themselves, fighting for freedom, with umbrellas used only against “brutal” police, and they should be supported. Every element in that statement is clearly and easily verified to be untrue.
The statement yields no benefit for the Philippines, but puts us as a frontline of a geopolitical struggle between China and the US, which may become a military one, when we can be the friend of, and obtain benefits from and productive relations with, both countries. The welfare of Hong Kong is a direct concern for us because we have over 130,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong and its stability affects the Philippines.
The Hongkong crisis precipitated due to a Personal Crime of Passion that mutated into a geopolitical crisis. It was triggered when two HK lovers, vacationing in Taiwan, around Valentine’s Day, ended in the murder and dismemberment of the the girl who informed her boyfriend that she was pregnant by someone else and leaving him. The killer escaped to Hong Kong, and in the bureaucratic process, Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed an extradition bill. This becomes the issue of Hongkongers’ protest, who fear that it may be used for political extraditions.
The related causes in Hong Kong that eventually surface include valid difficulties in obtaining housing despite the prosperity of Hong Kong, and fear by younger citizens of increased China control despite the actual governance being voted the freest practiced in the world (except in the selection of the top officials). Despite the withdrawal of the bill, it became one demand after another, a descent into mass violence reported all over the world (but not so much in the Philippines). Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong said the protesters’ demands were not meant to be a program to solve Hong Kong’s problems but were “intended to humiliate and bring down the government.”
Reality: some protester turned rioters are very violent. The Western media declares the protestors to be peaceful even while its own reporters wear helmets, and protestors come in fully armored, masked and armed lethally. In their attacks, over 40 subway stations have been rendered non-operating; peaceful passersby have been tied, beaten up even with metal pipes, and doused in fuel and burned alive; a 70-year-old laborer on his way to lunch died after he was hit by a rock thrown by a protester; a politician was stabbed by a protester who pretended to be a supporter — all these simply for not joining or agreeing with the protestors, or if one is videoing the violence of the protestors’ side. Businesses have been crashed, burned, thousands bankrupted. Children of nonparticipants are bullied at school. Protestors are flying foreign flags and asking, receiving financial and organizational support from aggressive foreign powers.
Apologetic or inciting to violence and murder? Protest leader Joshua Wong declares in Euronews: “There is no endgame; its an infinity war” until China doesn’t influence Hong Kong anymore. Another, Joey Siu, in a DW interview, answered that violence like bombings and stabbings, while not preferred, were justified, even when not provoked, to achieve their ends. The chief executive of Hong Kong in fact was the one who apologized for misunderstood actions… Even the United Kingdom government has come out, stating that the the violence of “the hardcore… cannot be condoned.”
The US government is clearly involved in the inciting as well, with outright admission by the Hudson Institute that the National Endowment for Democracy, an operative funding arm of the Central Intelligence Agency that is also linked to some nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines, is funding the unrest and the NGOs leading the HK riots. The young HK leaders are given unprecendented media coverage and meetings with top US officials, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has described the HK protest as a “beautiful sight to behold.” There are various videos of highly organized training in the violence, and there are many personal testimonials that rallyists are paid to join, to lead, to injure, and when injured. A top HK protest leader was given a scholarship to Yale.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a law passed in the US last week, will impose trade, financial, travel and other punitive sanctions on Hing Kong and China if China and even individuals try to take steps the US deems “interfering with freedom” of the Hong Kong. Subject to yearly US review, sanctions may also be slapped on individuals, while protestors are to be protected, provided visas despite criminal records “for freedom,” and other benefits. Will the US allow China or Russia the same reviews, penalties on law enforcement in the US, and incentivization for violent subversives or killers?
The HK Police have been very patient and disciplined. Edited videos and majority of papers in the West show police pointing their pistols at the rioters, while the more complete videos show in practically every case that the protestors in masks were engaged in direct aggressive mob violence against the policemen, who were very restrained until they were beaten to the ground, and had to defend themselves. In comparison, the police in US and other Western cities and allies have beaten and killed dozens of defenseless protestors.
China has taken steps to try to address issues, to open dialogues and to plan housing, and although compromising protestor issues did take weeks, this is far faster already than most countries.. Lam withdrew the extradition bill, China’s military has not been sent in even during the violence — except for the one time to clear away barricades and bricks left by protesters in the vicinity of a nearby university — even though the economy of one of the world’s greatest success stories has been decimated. No deaths were due to the police.
Protestors were treated with kids’ gloves. Courts even ruled that despite all the violence, people should continue to be allowed to use masks — will any Western country allow its violent protesters supported by foreign powers the same freedoms?
One Country, Two systems was taken seriously by China, who kept too hands off, and geopolitical forces around the world are trying to force confrontations and violence to justify external involvement by the US.
Democracy with the West? Under British 99 years of rule, no elections were ever held in Hong Kong; budgets and actions were not accountable to the publics; civil servants were regularly subject to loyalty checks and not allowed to join in protests. The very existence of Hong Kong arose from the extraterritorial demands of the British, who wished freedom to enforce the opium addiction on the whole Chinese nation. The same British who gave Philippines’ Sabah to Malaysia, supported by the the US, which supports countries making unilateral declarations of territoriality, has a policy of “pre emptive strikes”, launching missiles before investigations. We should do an objective comparison between the superpowers to help define better-studied policies.
For us Filipinos, should we side with the US or China, if at all? Who should we believe and why? What does past history and current events, based on actual facts, show to be more sharing in their benefits and governance and fulfilling their agreements? Should we perhaps reduce the time and energy occupied in these international power games and concentrate on our domestic economy, reforms, and welfare of the people? We need productive frameworks for decision making and we will present some ideas in following weeks.
Mario Ferdinand Pasion is a political analyst, director of economic alliance Phil-Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Strategic Studies, and the chairman of Nat-Fil (Nationalist Filipinos Against Foreign Intervention).
New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture, and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (firstname.lastname@example.org).