Hong Kong Didn’t Even Show up in Pence’s Speech: Whose Fault Is This?

Hong Kong Didn't Even Show up in Pence's Speech: Whose Fault Is This?
Translated by Gordon, written by Lewis Loud
Original: Hong Kong Didn’t Even Show up in Pence’s Speech: Whose Fault Is This? 

Mike Pence, Vice President of the US, Source of photo: Internet
Mike Pence, the Vice-President of the United States, delivered a stinging speech about China at the prestigious Hudson Institute, with every paragraph pinpointing at every flaw of China. Starting off by retelling the story where the US has supported China for the last century, the speech depicts China’s betrayal amidst and despite the US’ benevolence; as the speech unfolds, it sounds as if the US is giving an ultimatum to China before launching a full-out attack. This U-turn of policy bears a striking resemblance to what was laid down in Michael Pillsbury’s book: The Hundred-Year Marathon.

What's more unsettling is that, whereas Pence's speech did mention many countries, Hong Kong (HK) was completely left out of it. While it is true that US-HK Policy Act still remains in effect, such is no guarantee of peace during turbulent times like these. Today, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) is facing political oppression from the HKSAR government, as Financial Times journalist and FCC Vice President Victor Mallet’s working visa has been rejected, as a payback for hosting a talk by Andy Chan, Chairman of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP). The act of terminating of Mallet’s visa amounts to sending him in exile. The HKSAR Government, by its conduct, revealed the fact that Hong Kong is no longer a free port nor an international metropolis, but instead “another Chinese city”. China has been in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law for a long time, and such conduct has been understood by the US. Sooner or later, if not already the case, HK will be seen as an accomplice of China, and there would be no way we can stay out of it once the US decides it’s payback time.

Just a month ago, HKNP wrote to President Trump, claiming that HK had suffered a total loss of its autonomy, thus asking the US to review US-HK Policy Act, as well as to revoke HK and China’s respective WTO memberships. Back then, quite a lot of criticisms came from the political and business sectors, saying that this would send HK to its demise. On the other hand, Alan Leong, a senior member of the pan-democrats, issued a high-profile rebuttal through Apple Daily, stating his disagreement over the claim that HK has suffered a total loss of autonomy, and claimed that HKers should “persuade” the Chinese Communist Party to act according to Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law…

As we can never tell whether Leong's seeming nveté was genuine, there is little need to comment such an act. Given, however, that the pan-democrats have occupied so many seats in the LegCo, Victor Mallet’s incident is in turn a reflection for what they have achieved so far amidst such political reality: ZERO.

Let us look deeper into it. The US’ grievance over China stems from China’s intellectual property theft and breach of trade regulations. While taking advantage of international trade, China maintains its shady connections with enemies of the international community, such as Iran and North Korea, and HK has played an pivotal role as an intermediary. The reason why HK can intermediate between the West and these shady links is not that HK is particularly brilliant, but because of the differential treatment it receives from the international community and, in other words, their belief in the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine.

The international community has now realized that their tolerance is the root cause for HK’s infiltration of the international trade order, and so it’s not hard to imagine how HK will be treated by the international community in the near future. For example, as China has instilled a credit system to spy on and control their citizens, they would need to import spy cameras, for which HK is the transport hub. When the West has imposed an embargo on sensitive materials to China due to the outbreak of human rights crisis in regions like Xinjiang, there is no way Hong Kong can stay out of the embargo list. In another example, having breached trade regulations by doing business with Iran, ZTE had to accept direct management by the US to avoid going bust altogether. We will see HK receiving similar punishment very soon.

Moreover, the trade of raw materials to and from North Korea, as well as money laundering, were all done through more than 160 HK’s shell companies with North Korean background; selling oil to North Korea also involved HK shipping companies.

Void as it might seem, human rights remain a powerful pretext for certain actions. In 2017, German firearm manufacturer Heckler & Koch suddenly refused to sell MP5 submachine guns to the HK Police Force, as the German government had made a requirement in 2015 that all firearm manufacturers must assess the buyer’s level of corruption and democracy before selling, due to the worries that these firearms would be used by dictatorships to oppress their people.
Another less obvious reason for this is that the West is worried about leakage of sensitive and strategic materials, such as weapons, as well as steppers that are used to manufacture CPUs, into countries like Iran or China, through the help of intermediaries. An experienced intermediary, it is no wonder that HK is becoming less and less popular amongst the international community.
How did the HKers respond to this, then? Elites like Alan Leong would never stop preaching the same old drivel, claiming that the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine remains intact, and that HKers stand the same common ground of democracy, freedom and human rights with the free world, and therefore the differential treatment ought to continue. Nice as they might seem, foreign politicians, of course, have their own agendas. Whereas democracy and freedom are but an empty promise, conflict of interest is the real deal. As HK moves from a free city to an accomplice to China’s dirty work, the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine stops being the glory of the world, but a backdoor to the political and economic order of the world.
As a backdoor is a gateway through which a system is invaded, how would any knowing computer engineer not try to block it?
All these years, the politicians who tried to lobby in the US put all their emphasis on the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine. From a Western perspective, isn’t this some sort of circus act all these years? On one hand, the West knows HK has become China’s handyman and is doing damage to the world order; whereas on the other, they keep hearing these blokes from HK emphasizing on how high-degree autonomy they enjoy and how the One-Country-Two-Systems promise remains intact. “Is this a joke?”
Technically and factually speaking, HK IS China’s handyman. If HKers want the free world to help maintain the One-Country-Two-System promise on one hand, AND want to keep the differential treatment such as low tariffs and qualification recognition on the other, how would that be different from asking the free world to grab a knife and stab themselves? In fact, the more HKers emphasize on the existence of the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine, and the less HKers are willing to admit the fact that it has been defeated and that it has surrendered, the more would HK register as a sleeper cell on the radar of the international community.
To maintain the willful belief that the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine as the common ground between HKers and the international community, mainstream HKers have refused to look at the reality and, essentially, have been living a lie for all these years. The only concern for the West is this: Aren’t you guys all involved in hacking the order of international trade? You took all the privileges given to you by the international community, hacked into the system as a handyman, THEN came back to us, demanding we tolerate you despite all the damages you’ve done, AND continue giving you the differential treatment as well?
It is self-centred for the HKers to only want their business and professional services (also businesses) to continue to foster. From a foreign perspective, as China and HK have successfully merged as a whole, the denying of the merge and demanding of differential treatment means HKers only want to enjoy all the rights without fulfilling any obligations. Just like China.
What do we have to do in the face of such a hostile environment outside? For starters we need “civil diplomats”. Opinion leaders need to stop living in denial, and need to plead the truth to the international community, that HK has completely fallen and its autonomy has suffered a total loss; that HKers, however, like the international community, are victims of the One-Country-Two-Systems lie as well as the Chinese tyranny; and that all the damages done to the international community had been done by China, hijacking the name of HK. We HKers need to free ourselves and cast off the yoke of bondage known as the game of elections, and stop telling foreigners all we wanted was the status quo. Embracing the status quo means HK WILL be punished alongside China.
HKers need to sever the ties with China as soon as possible, whereby we at least need another way of civil diplomacy, to tell the international community and our allies our true opinion: HKers do NOT wish to be an accomplice for China’s attempt to dominate the world, which is why HKers ardently seek true autonomy through independence. This is not only to benefit HKers themselves. It is only when HKers obtain true autonomy and set boundaries can HK stop being the threat to the international order.
HKer’s primary perception of the world is that freedom and democracy have to be mentioned hand-in-hand with the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine. At the end of the day, HKers didn’t want to offend China and would like to remain as China’s handyman on one hand, meanwhile also wanting to remain as an ally of the West on the other. The fact that China took an action against a foreign journalist means that it has used HK as a pawn. The colonial master known as China has decided to sacrifice HK, and HK, as a subordinate, never had a chance to make a difference even if it chooses to side with its master. As we refused to choose whether to jump off the sinking ship or to remain on board, we’d still have to face the fact that the ship IS going to sink anyway.
The problem for HK is not that it doesn’t want to side with the West; it’s that it doesn’t get the opportunity to do so. As Pence made his speech, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen immediately thanked the US for having the “moral courage” to speak up for Taiwan. Ties between US and Taiwan has been increasingly close these years, and an “Abandon-HK-Keep-Taiwan” policy has almost reached a consensus.
It is virtually impossible for HK to safeguard its own interest and values with its own existing system, and with the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine, it renders it virtually impossible to seek help from foreign allies as well. To respect the One-Country-Two-Systems doctrine is to let China do whatever they like, and HK is doomed to be the backdoor China uses to hack the rest of the world.
5 months before, Alan Leong discussed HK politics at Asia Society, and all of a sudden he started to defend China (footage starting at 13:54), claiming that if the US had believed China to be in breach of the trade protocols, they should seek to resolve their differences within the framework of WTO, and they shouldn’t expect China to play by the rules if US had started a trade war, because by doing so would make China steer further away from democratic values. To Americans, this act is but defending this rogue regime. Didn’t you want democracy and autonomy for starters?
Fast forward to 5 months later. Pence made a stinging speech about all the crimes China had committed against the US and the world as a whole, including, on a domestic level, suppressing human rights and freedom of speech, and on an international level, influencing American elections, stealing confidential information from American companies, forced technology transfer, using “debt-trap diplomacy” against Belt-and-Road countries, and militarizing the South China Sea, to name a few. NONE of these conflicts can be resolved within the WTO framework, and as the US has made clear that they do not intend to do so, as they are seeking to establish multi-lateral trade relations anew.
Pence’s speech has rendered Leong’s defense a joke, as it has shown the extent how HK politics has lost touch with reality.
In his speech, Pence did mention Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, North and South Korea, South China Sea, as well as countries in the Belt and Road Initiative, leaving HK behind. Obviously, it is because HK has been so pro-China for such a long time that it stops showing up on the radar of the international community. Starting from Martin Lee fighting for the US to treat China as a most favoured nation after the Tiananmen massacre, to Alan Leong’s defense for China at Asia Society, HK politics has remained as pedantic as ever.
Whereas we never expected anything radical to come out of these politicians in fancy suits whose main concern is getting elected; had they stayed distant from China and treated them like an adversary (even if it was just a pretense), it would have made a huge difference in perception. Few people could tell the difference between defending HK and defending China. When they beg the US for their mercy to spare HK in the trade war, while ALSO saying good things about China at the same time, isn’t this revealing of their true desire to remain as a two-faced handyman, but with different wordings?
Then, if the international community forgets about HK, how would this be China’s responsibility at all? It is this entire generation of HKers who couldn’t make sense of their own identity and position or, worse yet, deliberate two-faced free-riders that exemplify the old saying “those who insult themselves shall be insulted likewise”. As we enter a time of a black-and-white, all-or-nothing showdown between China and the US, being two-faced means getting slapped in both.