To: The United Nations Office at Geneva Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
*Hong Kong National Security Law*
By now, after almost blanket coverage by Western media, the story that the Chinese Government has enacted the "Hong Kong National Security Law" (“NSL”) is surely known to a significant portion of the Western population. Together with the effective social media campaign by self-anointed "democracy warriors", the NSL has now become one of many weapons that US, EU, UK and Australian politicians can use to bash China in order to extract political advantage. The left-wing liberals like the idea that they are apparently defending democracy and human rights; the right-wing hawks like the idea that they are bringing down a potential competitor to the Western-centric world-order in place in the last 70 years. China is being painted as the Evil Empire, which helps unite fractured Western societies and otherwise unbridgeable political chasms. For once, a marriage of true minds in bi-partisan Western nations!
But, how about those of us who become the collateral damage?
Before we go further, a bit of self-introduction. Most of us were born and bred in Hong Kong. Professionally, we are lawyers now working in Hong Kong and who qualified in Hong Kong, England and/or other countries, some with working experience in also other top tier international financial centres. Although we are Chinese, many of us were educated in English (i.e. many have natural affinity to the West and are fully attuned to Western mores, manners, customs and morals). We still read Western media (i.e. we are not brain-washed by Chinese media). Tragically, the incredible difference between Western reportage and Hong Kong reality (that is, between what the media reports/Western political rhetoric tell the world and what our experience on the ground, living and working in Hong Kong, tells us) has been devastating to our hitherto admittedly naive world-view that the West is a shining example of the future of humanity (i.e. we bought the Western world view, previously). So, no, we are not Chinese stooges. But isn't it pathetic that we have to defend our stance in this manner?
This letter is written for those of us who have been denied a voice. This letter seeks to bring to the attention of those willing to listen, the voices that have been unfairly vilified and simplistically dismissed as communist sympathisers or Chinese stooges. This is to give voice to those of us who have no truck with violence, arson, and disorder happening on our streets on a daily basis (something unreported or under-reported in the Western media) under the banner of so-called democracy and freedom. This is to support those who dared to speak up or object against such thuggery, but who were mercilessly cyber-bullied and/or beaten up in the streets. To cite just one of the most egregious cases, an unarmed 70-year old street-cleaner was hit on the head by a brick and killed in broad daylight, perpetrated by the so-called "defenders of democracy" - simply because the street-cleaner had the temerity to take photographs recording the mayhem and destruction taking place on the streets which he was so assiduously cleaning. In another case, a group of so-called "practitioners of civil disobedience" (who habitually wear face-concealing masks, just like commonplace bank robbers in order to evade detection) were vandalising public transport facilities and when they were verbally berated by a 57-year old father of 2, he was set on fire and burned alive, leaving him cruelly maimed and disfigured.
This letter is to keep faith with the 2 million-plus of us Hong Kong people who signed a petition requesting China to bring about some sort of national security legislation to coax peace and order back to our streets -- yes, our 2 million-plus voices were not important enough to hit the radar on Western media. Why? Because it's not news when the population supports their government and their country. It's boring. It doesn't sell. Plus it doesn't bring about regime change which has been ingrained in the DNA of American foreign policy.
The arguments regarding the legality of NSL have been put forth in an excellent manner by Hong Kong Barrister Mr Ronny Tong in Time magazine. Without going into the technicalities, our conclusions are listed below to correct the prevalent misinformation espoused by sources ranging from BBC articles to the speeches by Pompeo:
- Chinese Government passing NSL did not breach the Sino-British Joint Declaration. - Chinese Government has authority under Chinese Law as well as under the Hong Kong mini constitution (Basic Law) to pass the NSL.
- NSL does not breach the Hong Kong mini constitution.
- Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong citizens had an obligation to pass laws in relation to national security but we were delinquent for the past 23 years and had failed to do so - and yes, we count ourselves as having been complicit in such failure and delinquency over the past 23 years.
- NSL strikes a proper balance between safeguarding the interest of the entire nation and protecting individual rights of people of Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” political formula. (It is the height of hypocrisy and double-standards that Western politicians are now trumpeting about NSL, which still exists in the abstract for Hong Kong residents, being the end of One Country Two Systems. Meanwhile, during the past 12 months, our daily lives were battered by the self-proclaimed "liberators of Hong Kong" who were physically and violently attacking the essence of our One Country Two Systems consensus and pushing for a "Two Countries Two Systems" in thought word and deed, through their 12-month and on-going campaign of relentless physical violence, vandalism and cyber-bullying, something which the same Western politicians failed to express alarm over and even encouraged.)
- NSL includes safeguards for the freedoms prized by Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong will have jurisdiction over all cases under NSL save those rare situations which, essentially, are cases in which China is facing “a major and imminent threat to national security”, where there is foreign involvement, or when the Hong Kong government is unable to govern.
- Human rights and freedoms are not without limits. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says very clearly that every right and freedom enshrined therein is subject to legal restraint by reason of national security. This is a universal standard, understood even in the U.S.
Please note that a form of the NSL has been applicable in Macau for over 11 years. From personal experience, the personal freedoms in Macau in the past 11 years have been just as strong as Hong Kong's.
There exists, in every Western liberal democracy, some form of legislation to defend national security (i.e. laws against rebellion, secession and foreign intervention). Why should Hong Kong be disallowed its NSL?
When we see Western commentators applauding the minority who have ripped apart Hong Kong's social fabric through violence and untrammelled demands for regime change, we are reminded of an English textbook from our Hong Kong schooldays - Lord of the Flies. We despair, not just for Hong Kong's tattered social fabric which Western commentators see as something beautiful, but also for Western liberal tolerance which we can no longer discern in the West today.
We only have one demand: all other countries should immediately stop interfering with our city’s and our country’s internal affairs. Our city and our country do not seek regime change for other places and other peoples. Please accord us the same respect and stop interfering. Our city has been wounded deeply by the one year of rioting. The rioters have had one clear motive: to bring about as much destabilisation to our city and country as possible. Family relations, friendships and economic security have been sacrificed upon this false altar.
Please do not be an enabler. Please stop giving aid and comfort to thugs and bullies and those behind them who do not have Hong Kong's best interests at heart. In their China-bashing mission, they only regard a weaponised Hong Kong as a pawn, collateral damage and utterly dispensable.
Last but not least, we note that among those countries who have opposed the NSL (something which simply is none of their business), we have some of the following war-crime culprits:
- traditional colonial powers which preyed on the peoples and the natural resources in other continents and caused untold suffering in their former colonies.
- countries which invaded China on multiple occasions during the 19th century with their "gunboat policy" and forced her to pay reparations through unequal treaties.
- countries which built their wealth and prosperity on the suffering of slaves (including one so-called Christian country which actually needed to wage its own famous civil war partly over the debate as to whether or not there was a "God-given" right to feed on slavery).
- one (coincidentally also a so-called Christian country) which, under the guise of complaints over trade imbalances, forced China at gun-point to buy and pay for its opium and to force countless hapless Chinese people into the misery of narcotic addiction at the same time.
- one which slaughtered millions of Jews and sent millions more to concentration camps as Government policy.
- one which slaughtered millions of Chinese in the 2nd World War including through the deliberate use of smallpox in its germ warfare strategy.
Almost needless to add is that the ring-leader amongst the posse has always systematically discriminated against its non-white peoples and in particular the blacks even up to today.
This list could go on.
That the above countries, which all have a horrendous track-record on human rights and a history in which their respect for human lives, at least non-white lives (not to mention human rights) was virtually non-existent, have both the effrontery and audacity to show such great care and concern on the affairs of Hong Kong, which is a sovereign part of China, and to oppose a national security law enacted for Hong Kong (when all the time they have exactly similar laws in their own countries) not only beggars belief but shows that when it comes to hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, for these countries, the utmost outer space is the limit.
At the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Cuba, on behalf of 53 countries, welcomed the adoption of NSL and stated that “Non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is an essential principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and a basic norm of international relations”. (After Cuba made the joint statement, representatives from over 20 other countries also expressed their support for the passage of NSL during the session – i.e. a total of over 73 countries supported the NSL at the session.) There are many of us who just want to get back to our normal lives, and if any law which regulates national security can give that to us, then we welcome it.
* The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect our editorial stance.
Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.