Uncle Sam's shady role in 'Occupy Central'

Updated: 2014-12-10 08:03

By Leung Kwok-leung(HK Edition)

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Right after radical protesters' violent attacks on the SAR government headquarters were repelled by police and strongly condemned by the public, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a two-day hearing.

The hearing focused on the impact of the "umbrella movement" (not the "umbrella revolution" - the name most pro-"Occupy" media prefer).

This habit of avoiding the use of the term "color revolution" speaks volumes about the notoriety of such movements, which have all resulted in widespread violence.

Another notable feature of the hearing was the testimony of US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel, who declared that "the US is not in any way involved in the protests".

To determine the veracity of Russel's statement it is necessary to examine three important points from his testimony. First, the US supports Hong Kong people's quest for "democracy" from the standpoint of "justice and freedom". Second, the decision by China's top legislative body on how Hong Kong's Chief Executive should be elected by universal suffrage in 2017, was an incorrect decision. This is because it limits the number of candidates and cannot meet the expectations of Hong Kong voters. Third, "the legitimacy of Hong Kong's Chief Executive will be greatly enhanced by universal suffrage and by an election that provides the people with a meaningful choice of candidates who represent the voters. This means allowing for a competitive election where a range of candidates with differing policy approaches are given an opportunity to seek the support of eligible Hong Kong voters."

This is the US government's official position on the illegal "Occupy Central" movement.

If this is not interference in China's internal affairs, I don't know what is. US support has certainly been crucial to the campaign. Washington cheered the protesters without fail whenever their morale dropped.

Here is a look at how the US has been supporting the illegal campaign in Hong Kong:

Nov 20, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) held a hearing on "the way forward in Hong Kong". It invited Chris Patten, the last colonial governor of Hong Kong, to testify via teleconference. That hearing was held in response to a proposal by five members of the US Congress to update the "Hong Kong Policy Act", which will turn it into a Hong Kong version of the "Taiwan Relations Act" to legitimize interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs.

Patten's excitement about "Occupy" and his determination to mess up Hong Kong is well known. Before the start of the hearing, representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and the SAR government Task Force on Constitutional Development, led by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, held their first dialogue since the beginning of "Occupy". This was a bid to reach a consensus on constitutional reform.

Although the dialogue failed to achieve anything of note, it did produce a sense of reconciliation between the two sides. This was obviously not what Washington had wanted.

Soon after the CECC hearing, the HKFS abandoned its earlier "consensus" and desire to seek common ground, withdrawing instead to its unconstitutional demands for "public nomination".

Earlier still, on Nov 4, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons held a hearing in London as part of its inquiry into the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, Patten was summoned to testify.

He has little, if anything, positive to say about China's 17 years of sovereign rule over Hong Kong. As expected, he accused the Chinese government of failing to fulfill its promise to Hong Kong to implement universal suffrage.

On the same day, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech at John Hopkins University in Boston that the US was concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and human rights conditions in China.

Patten and Kerry may not have offered anything new in their statements, but the timing is interesting. Their speeches were given when support for "Occupy" had fallen to a new low. This was after the central government said the campaign was an attempt by external forces and extreme opposition groups in Hong Kong to stage a color revolution.

Media reports had revealed that opposition parties, and certain individuals, had received large amounts of money from overseas. Estimates by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Association also showed the illegal campaign had spent an estimated HK$250 million on food, drinking water, snacks, fresh fruit and on helmets, goggles, bullet-proof vests, gas masks and medical supplies in the first month.

The opposition acknowledged it had received about HK$50 million in cash donations from people in Hong Kong. Some may wonder at the source of the remaining HK$200 million. Naturally, public sympathy for the illegal movement waned even further as suspicions grew.

All these developments suggest the US played a shady role in "Occupy". The ultimate objective appears to be to keep it alive as long as possible.

Indeed, some members of extreme radical groups have already started harassing local businesses and consumers in Mong Kok, in what they call "operation cuckoo". This is after the enforcement of a court injunction against the occupation last month.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an "Occupy" initiator, told local residents not to pay income tax or public housing rent as a form of protest. Who knows what other illegal ways they will advocate to hurt Hong Kong in future?

The author is a veteran journalist based in Hong Kong.

(HK Edition 12/10/2014 page1)