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Posts published in “U.S./Hong Kong Relations”

China’s Hostage Diplomacy

In the long history of imperial China, emperors of China (and other powerful officials) would on occasion keep hostages taken from other countries or rival organizations to ensure peace or allegiance between states or groups or as leverage in negotiations. Sometimes even, an emperor would take hostages from the family of powerful officials or generals to make sure that they stayed loyal to the emperor. Books have even been written about this practice.

In modern China, the practice of taking hostages continues, but in a somewhat different form. China frequently arrests and detains foreign nationals, accusing them of crimes and holding them for “investigation,” at times for months, without contact with lawyers, family, friends, or officials from their home country. This practice of holding people incommunicado is part of the reason that the Hong Kong people want nothing to do with China’s “justice” system. Sometimes, prisoners disappear permanently – killed or dying while in detention in China.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that China seized a U.S. citizen, a pilot for FedEx named Todd Hohn, accusing him of “transporting ammunition” on a flight where security had already cleared him. The “ammunition” in question was plastic pellets for a low-powered replica gun. They are common in Hong Kong, where he lives.

Not long ago, President Trump ordered FedEx and other package delivery companies to increase their inspections of packages entering the U.S. from China as part of a crackdown on fentanyl smuggling into the U.S. Recently, enough fentanyl to kill 14 million people was seized in Virginia. It was shipped from a vendor in Shanghai. China has denied has denied that it is the source for fentanyl entering the U.S. Of course, that is just more CCP propaganda.

Along with the fentanyl smuggling problem, trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are starting soon, and the U.S. Congress is pushing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act through the legislative process, on its way to becoming U.S. law.

So given this background, from China’s point of view, detaining a FedEx pilot – better yet, an American citizen living in Hong Kong – on this phony charge makes perfect sense. China gets some leverage over FedEx in enforcement of shipping regulations, and over the U.S in the trade negotiations, and China can also use it to pressure the U.S. Congress against passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and to express its anger at U.S. support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Given China’s long history of using hostages as pawns in diplomacy and negotiations, it isn’t really surprising that they would do this, but it is still despicable.

China at this moment is holding citizens of Australia, Canada, and the United States, and possibly other countries, on politically-based charges. It is unfortunately typical of China to engage in “hostage diplomacy,” and that fact is yet more evidence that the CCP is uncivilized, and not worthy to be a member of the community of nations. We will say it yet again: the Chinese people deserve a much better government than the one they unfortunately have.

Powerful Testimony By Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activists Before U.S. Congress

Today, Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Denise Ho, Sunny Cheung, and Joshua Wong testified before the U.S. Congress on the Hong Kong protests. The South China Morning Post has an excerpt of their power testimony on YouTube:

The entire hearing (nearly 3 hours long) is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQJZTi-XRls

We understand that the Trump administration wants a trade deal with China. President Trump is a businessman, and it is likely that he identifies with U.S. business leaders that want a deal. The U.S./China trade war is affecting the world’s economy, though it hasn’t so far impacted the U.S. economy much. On the other hand, it seems to have affected China’s economy, which was already facing a slowdown for other reasons, including the swine fever epidemic, which has increased pork prices in China. Beijing does not want the trade war to continue, so no doubt is willing to negotiate an end to the tariffs.

But some things are more important than profits – and the plight of the Hong Kong people is one of them. Beijing has broken the treaty that was negotiated with the U.K. establishing Hong Kong’s Basic Law guaranteeing the rights of the Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong police are increasing violent and are cooperating with triad gang enforcers to oppress the pro-democracy movement. The Hong Kong government led by Carrie Lam is incompetent and ignores and denies the movement’s demands and concerns.

The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong in China can only succeed if it has the backing of powerful allies (just as France backed the Americans in our revolutionary war). The very least that the U.S. can do is pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. President Trump should not let the Chinese hold the Act hostage to passage of a trade deal.

Carrie Lam Echoes Beijing Line on U.S. “Meddling;” Hong Kong Executive Council Member Throws Wild Accusations at Protest Movement

In a clear sign that Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, is controlled by the CCP from Beijing, and echoing the typical CCP rhetoric, she said today that it was unnecessary for the U.S. to intervene in the affairs of Hong Kong by passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

The South China Morning Post quotes Lam as saying:

Any form of interference from foreign congresses is extremely inappropriate,” Lam said. “I hope no more local figures, particular those in certain positions, will ask proactively for the American congress to pass the act.

SCMP article

Ironically, Lam’s remarks show exactly why passing the bill is appropriate and so urgently needed. She is echoing the typical CCP line on non-interference in China’s “internal affairs,” which just lends weight to the Hong Kong peoples’ belief that she is a puppet of Beijing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the most egregious thing said by Hong Kong government officials today. Executive Council member Fanny Law, appearing on a radio talk show, said this:

Reacting to a listener’s email which alleged that some girls are being tasked to provide “comfort” to frontline protesters, Law said: “I think we have confirmed that this is a true case. I am so sad for these young girls who have been misled into offering free sex.”

RTHK article
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1479601-20190909.htm

Pro-democracy protesters responded at a press conference:

Speaking at the self-styled Citizens’ Press Conference on Monday evening, the protesters said Mrs Law didn’t back her claims with evidence, and called on her to report the matter to police if she has proof.

“This is another example of the state campaign against protesters and this shows the quality of the government,” said a protester who calls himself Ezra Chan.

“Without legitimately responding to our demands, they have chosen to launch a smear campaign against everyone and this is why we’re against fake news,” he said.

RTHK article
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1479695-20190909.htm

The Hong Kong government is seriously out of touch and out of control. Flinging wild accusations without rock-solid evidence to back them just discredits the government even more.

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