On reporting on Hong Kong
The Chinese ambassador to France presents his government’s position on the spectacular “Anti-Beijing” protest movement in Hong Kong.
Just arrived in France in late July to take up my new position as Chinese ambassador to France, I was able to read in the following weeks many reports or comments from the French media about the situation in Hong Kong, some of which, to say the least, seemed confusing to me.
Firstly, how can one describe thugs as democrats? On the sidelines of the demonstrations against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s draft revision of the extradition regulations, there have been many acts of violence. Individuals have ravaged the Legislative Council seat, destroyed the national flag and emblems, disrupted metro traffic, entered the airport and paralyse it, kidnapped and beaten innocent continental tourists and journalists and desecrated the grave of the parents of a deputy. So-called “liberal” local media held openly hate speeches and publicly insulted the chief executive [of Hong Kong] by shouting at him: “When are you finally going to die?
In the face of such outbreaks of violence every leader, every public opinion would undoubtedly support zero tolerance. How can one explain why these acts of violence are called “peaceful demonstrations” and “pro-democracy movements” in Hong Kong?
Secondly, why is there so little objectivity? On 17 August hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens took part in a big rally to say, “No to violence, let’s save Hong Kong”. This event was mostly left unmentioned in the French media. On the other hand, the following day a demonstration of the opponents is broadcast live in full and with the constantly same commentaries. And while the police estimated the number of demonstrators at less than 130,000 we were told that there were 1.7 million.
The Hong Kong police force has shown remarkable restraint in the face of a very tense environment. One policeman’s finger was torn off by a madman who bit him. Another was cornered against a wall and beaten by the crowd. But nobody thought of appreciating their professionalism and spirit of sacrifice. What can we also say about the widespread story of a demonstrator who was allegedly the victim of a rubber bullet from the police, when her eye injury was actually caused by a shot from her companion? How can we spread so many untruths?
Thirdly, why is there no freedom of expression when speaking about Hong Kong? Recently, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube had announced that they have closed a number of accounts “supported of the Chinese government”. But Hong Kong’s social networks are full of words inciting violence against police officers where their personal information is disclosed. And yet, to my knowledge, none of these accounts have been closed. Rather on the contrary, it is enough for media and Internet users from continental China to be blocked immediately if they tell some truths or post videos of the riots.
Freedom cannot justify violence, and democracy is no excuse for rioters. Peace, development, equality and justice are values that belong to all. There must be no double standards anywhere in this area.
In Hong Kong, the Chinese central government has always strictly adhered to its “One Country, Two Systems” policy. However, the basic prerequisite for “two systems” is that there is “one country”. But once we deny the “one country” is rejected, undermine China’s sovereignty, question central power and the authority of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the talk about “two systems” is pointless. We strongly support the Hong Kong executive in exercising its powers to uphold the rule of law, restore social order and to end criminal violence. Using the rejection of the revision project as a pretext to destabilise Hong Kong, undermine China’s sovereignty, or use Hong Kong to promote infiltration and sabotage on the continent is doomed to failure.
Today, more and more Hong Kong residents are beginning to grasp the true nature of this “protest movement”. A lie, even repeated a thousand times, never becomes truth. •
Source: © Le Figaro of 2 September
(Translation Current Concerns)
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km. In Current Concerns No 19 of 27 August, an Indian and a Frenchman analysed the current situation in Hong Kong. The reading of the two texts made it clear that one misses the target if one tries to press the events into a scheme of “evil” Chinese government against “good” demonstrators in Hong Kong. It is probably more about Western power politics against the rise of China, which is being pursued with tough bandages.
Those who still follow the narrative “good” against “evil” will most probably dismiss the statements of the Chinese ambassador in Paris. But one could also take these statements seriously and check them. Even if this has become a rarity for the politics of many Western states and even more for the public appearance of Western politicians. Some of them prefer throwing smoke grenades. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a master in this field. She has visited China in recent days and also commented on the events in Hong Kong. In a press release issued by the German Chancellor’s Office on September 7, it was said that Ms. Merkel had spoken to Prime Minister Li Keqiang about “promoting a peaceful solution” in the conflict. “In the current situation, everything must be done to avoid violence. In this context she [Ms Merkel] welcomed the announcement by the Hong Kong government to formally withdraw the planned extradition law with China. There were signs that the head of government in Hong Kong would now make a dialogue possible”.
If you take the Chinese ambassador’s descriptions seriously, such statements by the chancellor seem grotesque. Therefore, the prompt reaction of the Chinese Prime Minister is easy to understand. He replied in a friendly but firm manner that everything would be done to end the chaos in Hong Kong and restore public order. Foreign politicians, on the other hand, should not interfere in internal affairs.
Not less grotesque was the comment on the process by tageschau.de: “But Merkel stroke the point - and no one in Beijing is angry at her. She is allowed to criticize China like hardly any other person in international politics.
The above-mentioned press release of the Federal Government also states: “Intensify economic relations. In Beijing, the Chancellor also took part in the meeting of the Advisory Committee of German-Chinese Business that met for the sixth time this year.
There she advocated more investment by Chinese companies in Germany. They are invited to continue investing in Germany. And shortly thereafter one can read: “Eleven agreements were signed at a signing ceremony in Beijing. These include agreements in the fields of aviation technology and shipping, electro-mobility and energy, insurance, digital education and financing. In addition, agreements were concluded on networked driving as well as the prevention of waste and the recycling thereof.”
Is Ms Merkel, therefore, some kind of Claire Zachanassian who has come to China to offer good business and to demand political self-abandonment in exchange? Probably not. It is not fitting for the China of today to be pushed in any direction by Ms Merkel. However, Ms Merkel has a conflict. She has to cultivate relations with China, a very important economic partner for Germany, and at the same time do justice to the claim of political dominance. Somehow squaring the circle.
Would it not also be much better for Germany to stop its political fuss and engage in relations on equal terms? And to stop nourishing the forces that have the task of destabilising another country materially, politically and medially? •
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