As Hong Kong fes­ters, ques­tions aplenty for the West

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Wang Wen­wen The author is a re­porter with the Global Times. wang­wen­[email protected]­al­

Young, an­gry, anti-es­tab­lish­ment, and vi­o­lent. How can they be de­fined? Ri­ot­ers or he­roes? It de­pends on what they op­pose. If they are against West­ern main­stream so­ci­ety, they are vil­lains. But if they are against non-west­ern au­thor­ity, their ac­tions would per­fectly fit a pro-democ­racy nar­ra­tive, all too of­ten ex­ploited by cer­tain West­ern forces and West­ern me­dia out­lets in their pub­lic opin­ion of­fen­sive against their ide­o­log­i­cal op­po­nents.

Hong Kong of this sum­mer will surely be remembered by West­ern me­dia re­porters. When black-clad young­sters took to the streets and ganged up to beat the po­lice and de­stroy pub­lic prop­erty, they were hailed as he­roes and fight­ers for the city’s law, freedom and democ­racy.

On We the People pe­ti­tion page which is a part of the White House web­site, a pe­ti­tion by more than 100,000 ne­ti­zens calls for the No­bel Peace Prize 2020 to be given to the “Hong Kong freedom fight­ers.”

In­deed, the pro­test­ers are be­ing looked at through West­ern prism. They are on the front­lines of mod­ern-day changes for the so-called bet­ter­ment of their so­ci­ety. Noted in­ter­na­tional af­fairs com­men­ta­tor George Fried­man once pointed out, “For the West­ern me­dia, any­one un­der the age of 30 with an iphone is by def­i­ni­tion a lib­eral demo­crat.”

But when pro­test­ers in Hong Kong van­dal­ize sub­way sta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, cut off smart lamp­posts, dam­age the crosshar­bor

tun­nel, threaten pas­sen­gers and re­sort to dangerous weapons in­clud­ing Molo­tov cock­tails, how could the West en­dow them with the halo of peace?

Dur­ing the months-long protests, Hong Kong po­lice have been por­trayed by cer­tain West­ern me­dia as a bru­tal force out to get civil­ians and pro­test­ers, even though it was the pro­test­ers who first broke the law and re­sorted to vi­o­lence.

But when such protests turn into ri­ots in West­ern coun­tries, how would the po­lice do? The French po­lice used tear gas and wa­ter can­nons to dis­perse the yel­low-vest pro­test­ers that swept across Paris even be­fore the sit­u­a­tion could spi­ral out of con­trol, but West­ern me­dia took it for granted when re­port­ing it with­out much con­dem­na­tion of the same kind of “bru­tal­ity.”

By the same logic, while po­lice in Moscow de­tained more than 1,300 people dur­ing a rally on July 27, it isn’t sur­pris­ing that France and Ger­many crit­i­cized Rus­sia’s “ex­ces­sive” use of force.

What is hap­pen­ing in Hong Kong now pro­vides a per­fect story for the West to chant its West­ern-style democ­racy and push for­ward its ide­o­log­i­cal cam­paigns. The pro­test­ers and some West­ern­ers do share a lot of val­ues, and the West has var­i­ous chan­nels to sup­port them. This is the tac­tic the West uses to ex­pand its dis­course power.

Many West­ern politi­cians have joined the cam­paign. US Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim Mcgovern, a Demo­crat, called for US ac­tion such as stop­ping arms sales and riot con­trol equip­ment to the Hong Kong Po­lice Force. For­mer US sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton once tweeted, “May we all stand in sol­i­dar­ity with the people of Hong Kong as they speak out for democ­racy, freedom from re­pres­sion, and a world they long to see.”

But is this the world all of Hong Kong people long to see, or one some US politi­cians long to see? As ne­ti­zens com­mented on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s tweet on Hong Kong, the US stood in sol­i­dar­ity with Syria, Libya, Ye­men and Iraq, and look what has be­come of th­ese coun­tries? Joseph Mi­callef, a com­men­ta­tor on mil­i­tary and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, wrote in Huff­post that the US en­cour­age­ment of the Arab Spring only served to desta­bi­lize the re­gion even more. We see eco­nomic stag­na­tion, po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence, bloody civil war and wide­spread un­rest. In­stead of en­joy­ing the Us-hailed democ­racy and freedom, people from th­ese coun­tries are still suf­fer­ing, and the US be­haves like ev­ery such mis­ad­ven­ture has noth­ing to do with it.

So, will Hong Kong with sup­port from the Us-led West be an ex­cep­tion? Hardly. The US has al­ready sought to use the Hong Kong protests as a bar­gain­ing chip in its strate­gic game with China. Hong Kong’s spe­cial cus­toms sta­tus with the US is also un­der threat from Wash­ing­ton. Hong Kong pro­test­ers may ask those West­ern politi­cians if the lat­ter re­ally treat them as ad­vo­cates of peace or merely po­lit­i­cal tools.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Liu RUI/GT

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