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讓世界看到彩色的香港 讓香港看到彩色的世界

Opinion | How an open and free society was destroyed by scorched-earth 'freedom fighters'

By Philip Yeung, university teacher


Do you know when is the freest and most open period in Hong Kong's history? It was the 20 odd years immediately following its handover to Chinese sovereignty. Under the British, street protests were banned; and calling for the downfall of the British government would be a jailable offence. Political dissidents were unceremoniously deported to the mainland. But for 23 years after 1997, "freedom fighters" practically had the streets to themselves.

Then the city imploded—from an excess of freedom and extremism, all in the name of democracy.

"Democracy" became a religion, or worse, a cult. Its followers were intoxicated by their absolutist belief in absolute freedom. Suddenly, they tasted that awesome power to defy and destroy anything that stood in their way. The city became an anarchist's paradise.

American agents saw the city's openness as an exploitable opportunity for US geopolitical advantage. China held to its pledge to give the city a high degree of autonomy. Rioters were free to roam and rampage. No foreign agents enjoy this freedom in Sydney, or Moscow or New York. But Hong Kong's unique wide openness was an open invitation to political chaos.

American agents became architects of mass riots behind the scenes. They were true professionals and knew exactly where the loopholes were, and where the society's soft underbelly was. Once in the ring, they delivered a rabbit punch that flattened their opponent.

Some protestors were disguised as journalists, untouchable because of freedom of the press. Many more were little kids barely weaned off their mothers' breasts—young teenagers joining street violence, while hoarding deadly weapons at home. They knew that if caught, their worst fate would be a slap on the wrist. Everything was carefully choreographed.

Western journalists chose to see it differently---as a valiant fight for democracy. They painted it as a David-and-Goliath asymmetrical fight, except David had a nuclear sling. The poor local cops were fighting with their hands tied. They were prohibited to use lethal weapons, and any crowd control action must be preceded by raising color signs to warn the troublemakers. Miraculously, no one died from police action over nine long months of rioting. In Washington DC a one-day riot ended with eight people dead.

Western press owes Hong Kong police an unconditional apology. Their professional restraint was recast as unrestrained enforcement. They were not there to report the truth but to spread the false narrative of brutal suppression of "freedom fighters". With their eyes wide open they spewed the biggest untruths in the open digital era. Instead of being truth-seekers, they became willing accomplices of America's anti-China agenda, with a "sacred" duty to give the world one-sided subjective misrepresentations of reality. To this day, it is an impossibility to find anything kind about China in any Western media. It is all negativity all the time.

None has bothered to look beneath the surface. They reflexively churn out one knee-jerk piece of sloppy reportage after another. None dared deviate from the US-dictated script. Western journalism is a thoroughly discredited profession, devoid of political courage and objective analysis.

As if on cue, politicians in Europe and elsewhere in the West are quick to echo their biases accusing Beijing of mercilessly crushing freedom fighters. The outright lie became the unchallengeable gospel truth.

The question everyone forgot to ask is: what exactly were Hong Kong people fighting for? On record, they were fighting for the universal right to vote for their next leader. In truth, this so-called universal voting right has no meaning—for the simple reason that choosing from a slate of pampered senior civil servants living in a bubble and wealthy business tycoons who don't know the smell of poverty is a Hobson's choice. The city has destroyed itself over a wild goose chase after a worthless goal. As Sir David Aker-jones the former colonial secretary lamented: "I wish Beijing would just appoint someone capable, as London used to do." Why burn the city down just to pick an inept or mediocre local leader?

Outrageously, rioters presented another non-negotiable demand which represented the height of hypocrisy: they demanded immunity from prosecution for breaking the law. I thought democracy is about the rule of law and that no one is above the law.

This worthless fight has cost Hong Kong dear--- a well-oiled civil society where people respect each other and the law. This once apolitical city now eats politics for lunch. Politics has turned friend against friend, family against family. The decent old Hong Kong beloved by the world is no more.

Next to its openness, the city's other vulnerability is its colonial baggage. Hong Kong was handed back to China peacefully with a pen. But this peaceful transfer of sovereignty had hypnotized local leaders into ignoring the urgent need to decolonize the population.

This costly oversight came as no surprise. Civil servants continued their love affair with Britain, enjoying colonial-era perks of sending their kids to UK for education at public expense. This ridiculous privilege has no parallel in the world. It has become the Trojan Horse that subverts the government. Now you know why hundreds of local civil servants refused to swear an oath of allegiance to China. The colonial umbilical cord has never been severed. All four of Hong Kong's recent top leaders had their children educated in Britain. Worship of the former colonial master is alive and well in Hong Kong.

The local government has not bothered to teach students Chinese history, including the Opium War. China remains a virtual stranger to local youngsters. And sinister propaganda can easily turn strangers into monsters. From demonization, it is but a short hop to hatred. The unrest in Hong Kong is down to a massive educational failure. That is the simple truth about the riots, but don't expect to find it in the Western press.


The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.

Read more articles by Philip Yeung:

Opinion | UN Standards, US Standards, Double-Standards

Opinion | Which is the world's best political party?


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