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writing for godot

Western Stereotypes of the Hong Kong Protests and How the Right is influencing them

Written by David Starr   
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 08:37

Tony Kwok, a Hong Kong resident, was disillusioned and fed up. He watched a TV program from the BBC called "Hard Talk" where there was a discussion of Hong Kong's new national security law. Kwok was prompted to write  a letter to the BBC. The letter was on behalf of "a large group of Hong Kong citizens who love Hong Kong and China."

Kwok is to the point. He writes, "Please don't jump to the conclusion at this point that we are being brainwashed by your idea of a brutal totalitarian regime or how could we love China." Kwok goes on to assert that it was British colonialism that brainwashed Hong Kong people to hate "our own motherland." He urged the learning of a global view, particularly of British and U.S. history which Hong Kong protesters are unenlightened about, where they are "heavily brainwashed fighting in the streets for their so-called noble cause of 'democracy and freedoms,' a cause they hardly understand and with very few of the Western world truly practicing."

Regarding the national security law, Kwok suggests that "[y]ou may wish to sit down and read very carefully our new National Security Law and learn exactly what it entails. You may also wish to know that every country in the world has national security laws of varying severity, some more sophisticated than others. The U.S. has for example at least 20 legislations related to national security, more than any other country in peacetime."

The Western media probably has no interest in hearing Kwok out, not because he's necessarily lying, but because it would grossly contradict the stereotype of "innocent pro-democracy protesters" it puts out and how the "commie regime" in China is "brutally oppressing them." Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I'm not saying the Chinese government is totally innocent. No country is exempt from criticism, even the United States and Israel.

Kwok points out the damage done by protesters: "our law enforcement officers have been repeatedly attacked with petrol bombs, with their family members identified and threatened while ordinary citizens with different views brutalized, maimed or even killed. Our courts have been set on fire or bombed, while banks, businesses, restaurants or any institutions even remotely related to the mainland have been torched and vandalized."

Kwok is also aware of the protests in the U.S. after the death of George Floyd. He writes, "Trump called the protesters in Minneapolis 'thugs' and said that 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts.''' What is implied is the hypocrisy of Western opinion in painting the Hong Kong protesters as innocent while the protesters in the U.S. are not. But the circumstances are not just B/W in both scenarios.

Speaking of Trump, some protesters in Hong Kong carried U.S. flags–like Hong Kong is part of the U.S.–and held signs saying, "Trump Liberate Hong Kong." If this is any indication of at least some protesters looking to Trump as a "savior," then there is right-wing influence within the protests. An analysis by Zoe Zhao, a sociology PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, points this out. She writes that "this historically unprecedented protest movement, a self-styled revolution, is clearly experiencing a right-wing turn." Zhao adds that "If the Hong Kong protests go all the way to the right, its legacy will leave a bloody footprint in the history of global struggle, a template for the fight between the powerful and powerless. Instead, we can take this opportunity to form a network of international solidarity, to recognize and respond to a predatory world system that pits protesters from different regions against each other."

Zhao writes that "The right-wing localists do not represent every Hongkongers' position, and yet they have taken up space at the core of the movement  and become a self-actualizing prophecy." Unfortunately, the right has taken up space worldwide. And Hong Kong is a microcosm of this counter-revolutionary tide. While the protests may have an array of tendencies, it's the right that has taken up the mantle to influence them.

The Western media has not been totally truthful in regards to the protests. Zhao makes an important point when she writes that Western headlines have "romanticized Hong Kong's struggle." As Kwok implies, the protests have not been totally peaceful. Further, it sounds like they have been just as violent as peaceful. With the right influencing them, there is a counter-revolutionary danger that could not only spell disaster for Hong Kong, but for China itself. But that's not to say that all protesters are guilty of this. Some no doubt are sincere and some have been lead astray. And some have been intimidated.

Zhao calls the Chinese government "authoritarian," and "fascist." To reiterate, I'm not saying the government is totally innocent. But fascism is characteristically on the right side of the political spectrum. And it's a stretch to call the Chinese government right-wing when it is suppressing protests that are probably lead by right-wingers. Besides, just the fact that Hongkongers are protesting shows that Hong Kong isn't some totalitarian hell.

Among the Western, right-wing groups trying to support the protests, Zhao provides the following examples: Patriot Prayer, founded by Joey Gibson, who went to Hong Kong and saw the protests as being anti-CCP; and Young Americans against Socialism, founded by Morgan Zegers, which sees itself supporting "liberal democracy" and opposing "Antifa violence." Zhao adds that their "posts on Hong Kong seem to attract more likes and shares than other content"; And no doubt the CIA has lent support as well.

Making a key point, Zhao writes, "When a movement evades ideological debate, the existing conservative structures of the world will seep into the deepest core of the movement." And this has happened to the Hong Kong movement. A lack of political and ideological awareness fuels abstract calls for democracy and freedom, rather than having meaning or substance. Conservatism, in this case, takes advantage of ignorance.

Fortunately, there are Hongkongers who are not this way. Tony Kwok is one of them. He concludes his letter by writing, "Please leave us alone." your social media marketing partner
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