Ambassador Guo Shaochun: Perspective
In February last year, a Hong Kong resident named Chen Tongjia fled back to Hong Kong after killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, China. Because there was no mutual legal assistance arrangement between Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Hong Kong court sentenced Chen Tongjia, a malicious murderer, to only 29 months in prison, causing strong dissatisfaction from the victim’s family and Hong Kong society.
To avoid impunity and respond to the call of the people, the Hong Kong SAR government proposed to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. This was meant to close legal loopholes and reinforcing judicial co-operation between Hong Kong and other judicial jurisdictions of China in order to jointly fight against crimes and deny criminals a safe haven. However, the good intention was translated into hidden agendas by Hong Kong opposition, radicals and those anti-China forces of some other Western countries and the Taiwan authorities.
They quickly converged and cooperated with each other to provoke confrontation and escalate violence.
The turmoil has gone far beyond the scope of freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration and is becoming a “Hong Kong version of coloured revolution”. This is why the riots and chaos in Hong Kong last for such a long time, although the Hong Kong SAR government has officially withdrawn from amending the ordinances.
The radicals and rioters put on masks in disguise, upheld the national flags of the US and UK, and smashed their way into the Legislative Building and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR with iron bars.
They wantonly vandalised public facilities, obstructed public traffic and illegally stored dangerous goods and offensive weapons.
They blatantly attack and throw petrol bombs at police leaving hundreds of police officers injured, besiege and beat people who oppose their wrong actions, burn national flag and defame national emblem of China.
They even invaded the Kong International Airport, causing flights cancellations, leaving passengers stranded and the airport almost paralysed.
Those scenes have been witnessed, through international media, by people around the world. Such violent behaviours have already overstepped the line of peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression.
They gravely trampled on Hong Kong’s rule of law, threatened local people’s safety, property and violated the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. Such things cannot be tolerated.
The performances of some Western countries in the Hong Kong riots is a most classic course showing hypocrisy and double standards.
Instead of condemning the violent law-breaking radicals, they blatantly criticised the Hong Kong SAR Government and Central Government of China and even tried to smear the professional, civilised and constrained law enforcement of Hong Kong Police.
Let’s see how the Western countries deal with the riots. In the US for instance, the police have every right to shoot whenever they deem a potential life-threat.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the right to protest, considering what was happening in some parts of Europe around that time. The resolution underlined duties of the police and law enforcement authorities.
It argued that the right to protest and freedom of expression are not without boundaries.
It cited the European Convention on Human Rights as stating that the freedom of assembly “shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the state”, and that these rights could be subject to legitimate, proportionate and necessary police measures. Let’s imagine what their police would do if the violence in Hong Kong took place in the US or Europe, if the US and European Parliament came under attack, or if their airports were occupied by the rioters.
The real intention of some Western countries on Hong Kong issue has nothing to do with human rights, freedom or well-being of Hong Kong people, but to mess up Hong Kong, sabotage the “One Country, Two Systems”, turn Hong Kong into trouble for China and eventually to contain China’s development.
We are living in an internet world. What is happening in Hong Kong will definitely have spill-over effects if those criminal activities are continuously connived and supported. It could also happen in any western country anytime because no country can guarantee that it has no social differences.
Maintaining rule of law is the incumbent responsibilities of any responsible state or government. It is also the common norm and principle that anti-humane, law-breaking activities as such should have no room in any society.
During Hong Kong’s 150 years under British rule, its people never exercised rights as masters of the city. What was practised in Hong Kong under British rule was colonialism, with a governor appointed by London. The UK’s own system of government had never been implemented in Hong Kong.
As a matter of fact, it is only in 1994, three years before the hand-over of Hong Kong, that Chris Patten, the last British governor introduced a last-minute “democratic reform” to Hong Kong in a sudden burst of kindness.
Obviously this was to mess up a smooth hand-over and leave a time-bomb in Hong Kong, an old and well known trick of the colonists.
It was only after the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle that Hong Kong began to be administered by its residents with a high degree of autonomy. Such autonomy is unique and not practiced by sub-national units within many federal countries.
For example, Hong Kong enjoys the power of final adjudication and pays no taxes to the central government. Even in the US, no state is entitled to such a privilege. The index of rule of law of Hong Kong has been ranking among the top globally since its return.
The practice of “One Country, Two Systems” have made universally recognised achievements in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has maintained its status as an international financial and trade centre as well as a free port.
Its GDP aggregate in 2018 has reached twice of that in 1996 and it has also been ranked as the freest economy in the world for 25 consecutive years. Over the past 22 years, the mainland of China provided strong backing for Hong Kong’s development.
The central government put in place Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Mainland and Hong Kong. It opened Bond Connect between Hong Kong and the mainland, implemented Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect and Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, providing greater convenience for Hong Kong to open wider and maintain competitive. With the strong backing of the Central Government, Hong Kong stood the test of 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2008 global financial crisis.
It is proven that “One country, Two systems” is the best institutional arrangement to maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
The Central Government of China will unswervingly continue to implement this system literally and essentially.
Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs that brook no interference from any country, organisation or individual.
The Chinese Government will never allow any foreign forces to have a hand in Hong Kong affairs or mess it up. China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests and uphold Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is rock solid.
The US House of Representatives’ recent passage of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is another gross interference in China’s internal affairs. We express strong indignation on and firm opposition to it.
It is a stark double standard and once again fully exposes the hypocrisy of some in western countries on human rights and democracy and their malicious intention to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability to contain China’s development. The US has important interests in Hong Kong.
If the relevant act were to become law, it would not only harm China’s interests and China-US relations, but would also seriously damage US interests.
China will definitely take strong countermeasures in response to the wrong decisions by the US side to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.
Though China and Zimbabwe are geographically apart, what is happening to Hong Kong is not unfamiliar to Zimbabweans.
It reminds people of the notorious Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. Sanctions have become a tool of some Western countries to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in furtherance of its own interests.
This is blatant hegemonism and also shows that some countries are still intoxicated with the old dream of colonialism. Unfortunately, the cloak of democracy and human rights no longer works because people of the developing countries have awakened.
We should all realise that we are living in the 21st century. If any country, race or civilisation is still obsessed with being superior to or being teacher of others, it is doomed to fail. It is always the most unwise thing to underestimate the intelligence of others.
This article is based on an interview Chinese Ambassador Guo Shaochun had with The Herald recently.