Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Some people create their own storms, then get upset when it rains. The whole of idea of Hong Kong independence is a non-starter and a dead-end game. If you think that Beijing will entertain any discussion of the issue, you are either blind or provocative. That the Hong Kong Independence Party and the Foreign Correspondents Club now face a deluge is no surprise.
You can’t argue that they didn’t see this coming. One issue is bound to raise hackles in China, that is any mention of losing territory. This is understandable in the historical context of China’s treatment at the hands of the imperialists. Never forget that the bedrock of the Communists Party’s legitimacy rests on putting right the suffered humiliations. I’d venture that any political entity running the country would hold the same position. Hence the return of Hong Kong, and the higher goal of reunification with Taiwan.
The inevitable banning of the Hong Kong Independence Party came as no surprise. The party sealed its fate with calls for ‘armed revolution'. Even voices in the pro-democratic camp remained muted in response to the banning. Besides a few token utterances, common sense prevailed. The 'why-and-how' of the prohibition is irrelevant because the concept of independence is a delusion.
Let’s not forget that Hong Kong relies on the Mainland for water, electricity and food. Andy Chan Ho-tin, the leader of the defunct HKIP, appears blissfully unaware of these issues. It is almost impossible to overestimate the nihilistic nature of this young man. He's abandoned reason, facts and the overwhelming weight of history. His ill-conceived action is baffling. One can only assume he’s motivated by deluded self-interest, as he gains his 15-minutes of fame.
Did he seriously expect China to do anything but oppose the idea with all its might? I’ll give Mr Chan his due; he risks the loss of his liberty in a curious combination of reckless, naïve and foolish conduct.
Steve Vines, a Hong Kong-based journalist and past FCC president, is renowned for his anti-China stance. Even he expressed irritation and impatience with Chan for leaving too many questions unanswered.
Moreover, it's all a distraction. Independence is a no go, yet it sucks political oxygen from the broader debate. As an unwelcome hindrance, it snags the discourse on Hong Kong's development. In the process stirring up sentiment.
To those who assert the banning damages ‘one country, two systems’ don’t talk such arrant drivel. Seeking to take away territory from China is unequivocally a ‘one country’ issue. It’s important to reiterate the independence by its very nature seeks to split the country. Anyone who can’t see that should study what’s evolved in Spain in response to the Catalan independence movement.
Please don’t bring up Scotland. The name the United Kingdom tells you that several nations forged an alliance. The union of 1603 may yet be undone, as the nation of Scotland once again stands alone.
The FCC is also in the firing line. They gave the HKIP a platform to speak to the world. In the process, the FCC put up two-fingers to Beijing. Before Alan Chan’s speech on August 14, Beijing made representations to the FCC. They asked that Chan not be given the opportunity to spread his message of independence. Likewise, senior Hong Kong government officials spoke with the FCC.
Citing freedom of speech, the FCC proceeded with the event. Journalist Victor Mallet chaired the controversial talk. He made great play in his opening address about the opposing voices the FCC welcomed to speak at its events. Through this speech, he made his and the FCCs position clear. Beijing has now asserted its position. Mr Mallet's work visa is not to be renewed.
Beijing is clear “Any words and deeds attempting to separate Hong Kong from the rest of China will be punished by law. Any individual or organisation’s move to embolden Hong Kong separatists will meet the firm opposition of the Chinese people.”
While the Hong Kong government hides behind the usual excuse “we don’t comment on individual cases” everyone recognises this is payback. In turn, this move provoked a wave of indignation from journalists and others. The British government is audacious enough to demand that Hong Kong explain the reasons for non-renewal of Mallet’s visa.
Britain forfeited its moral authority on Hong Kong affairs when it removed the right of abode from millions of folks. In any case, does the UK explain its actions? Why the 2013 arbitrary detention of journalist David Miranda? He's held at Heathrow for nine hours, under the fig leaf of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
This year the Brits arrested journalist-activist Tommy Robinson. His crime was reporting on the trial of rape gangs in the north of England. The courts had suppressed reporting. He’s then held in solitary confinement for months until a judge orders his release. One feels pierced by this stark hypocrisy from the British government.
Perhaps Hong Kong should make demands. How about an explanation for the terrible treatment of the Windrush generation? Likewise, the nightmare that is Heathrow arrivals for Hong Kong folks travelling on a BNO. It works both ways.
I digress. No one who follows the statements of Beijing can express any surprise at these events. The consequences that have befallen the HKIP and the FCC are to be expected. As a matter of principle, I object to no platforming, but even this has limits. Calling for ‘armed revolution’ is one of those limits.
Anyway, unlike other jurisdictions, Hong Kong acted to nip this nonsense in the bud. No doubt we will hear the usual noises in the weeks ahead. Long Hair will march, the US and Britain will express ‘deep concerns’.
Meanwhile, Britain is busy tearing itself apart over Brexit, while the rest of the world is more focused on the Trump show. In a curious and unintended way, this whole episode will hasten the introduction of Article 23. I’ll watch that with interest.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.