The Umbrella Revolution continues in Hong Kong, as the fiercely independent inhabitants of one of the world’s most modern and most densely populated cities struggle to hold on to their freedom and autonomy. Since June of 2019, Hong Kong has been rocked by mass demonstrations that have paralyzed the city and brought fears that its 7.4 million residents could soon face the type of deadly response that its Beijing overlords infamously unleashed on the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989. According to common analysis, the fact that China’s Xi Jinping and his fellow hardline communists have not responded (thus far) with massive slaughter is due to their concern for “optics”; they would look bad on the world stage.
However, Beijing’s restraint with regard to Hong Kong most likely has far more to do with its considerations about the possible reaction from the U.S. White House than with global optics. President Donald Trump in 2019-2020 is a far cry from President George H. W. Bush in 1989. When Deng Xiaoping ordered troops and tanks to fire on the peaceful protesters, he had good reason to believe that President Bush would issue a harshly worded but toothless response. He was not disappointed. While the world watched in horror a massacre that resulted in thousands dead (likely more than 10,000) and thousands more wounded and seriously injured, President Bush responded with a “condemnation” that amounted to a tsk-tsk, and then back to business as usual. Bush, an old China hand (he was President Ford’s “ambassador” to China, then known as “chief of the Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China”) and a rising star in the Council on Foreign Relations, dispatched CFR minions Brent Scowcroft (national security advisor) and Lawrence Eagleburger (deputy secretary of state) on a secret mission to Beijing to assure Deng and the Communist Party leadership that his denunciations were merely for American public consumption. Declassified documents show that Bush’s team assured the Tiananmen Square butchers that the United States wanted to continue developing “a healthy relationship” with the communist regime and the Bush administration — and the globalist elites it represented — viewed the Tiananmen massacre as “an internal affair” that would not upset ongoing trade or the transfer of the technology necessary to transform China into a modern power.
The Communist Party elites and their billionaire corporate princelings may have hoped that a Tiananmen-style crackdown on Hong Kong could pass with similar lack of repercussions from U.S. officialdom. After all, except for occasional perfunctory human-rights criticisms, Beijing has been able to get away with widespread religious persecution, torture, murder, imprisonment, organ harvesting, and much more, for decades. And even with its increasing belligerence and threats, its corporate and political leaders have been welcomed into the bosom of Wall Street, while the top American and European executives of Big Banking, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Media continue their infatuation with the mass-murdering regime.
On November 14, 2019, as demonstrators in Hong Kong protested China’s tyrannical rule, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUCR) feted the leading lights of the globalist establishment at its annual New York City Gala Dinner. The black tie-tuxedo soiree boasted the likes of Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Brent Scowcroft, George Shultz, Paul Volcker, Robert Zoellick, and an additional legion of Deep Staters. They were joined by chief officers of Citibank, BlackRock, Microsoft, Disney, PayPal, Qualcomm, Amgen, Chevron, Walmart, and more. These are the folks that masterminded the strip-mining of America’s manufacturing base and the transferring of it to China over the past four decades. They regularly clink champagne glasses with the communists.
President Donald Trump is the first occupant of the White House since the communists came to power in China in 1949 to reverse the suicidal policies of the United States vis-à-vis China. Having already hit the Beijing regime with tariffs and put them on notice that the United States would not continue ignoring their closed markets, huge subsidies to Chinese corporate “champions,” and violations of intellectual property rights, President Trump also signaled that he wouldn’t follow the Bush example of looking the other way if China chose to send the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the streets of Hong Kong as it did at Tiananmen 30 years ago.
On November 27, President Trump signed into law two human rights bills in support of the Hong Kong protesters. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838) requires the United States to review annually Hong Kong’s special trading relationship and provides for sanctions against China and Hong Kong officials responsible for violating the rights of Hong Kongers. S. 2710, a bill “to prohibit the commercial export of covered munitions items to the Hong Kong Police Force,” was in response to brutal actions by Hong Kong police against the demonstrators. By signing both bills and, more importantly, by giving every indication that he meant to enforce them, President Trump put Beijing on notice that it could not act with impunity and expect a business-as-usual response from America.
This article appears in the March 9, 2020, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
In addition, the Trump administration has incorporated human-rights concerns into its ongoing trade negotiations with China. During an interview in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum in January, President Trump said Hong Kong and human rights definitely are components of the China trade deal. Although he did not get into specifics, there is good reason to believe he will make good on the issue. Last October his administration blacklisted 28 Chinese companies over human-rights concerns, including Dahua Technology and Hikvision, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of video surveillance products and major suppliers of China’s Orwellian surveillance state. Moreover, he has had Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other administration spokesmen hammering China on human-rights issues in ways we have not seen before. Hong Kong journalist Chapman Chen told this reporter that these and other words and actions from the Trump administration “definitely give the people of Hong Kong a great deal of hope.”
Genesis of a Crisis
The June 2019 protests in Hong Kong were precipitated by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the city’s Legislative Council introducing the Fugitive Offenders law, an extradition bill that would allow Hong Kongers to be extradited to the mainland, where they would have none of the protections they now enjoy and would be subjected to communist-style “justice.” Since Lam and the Legislative Council are mere sock puppets of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), this was seen as a blatant move by Beijing to extend total rule over Hong Kong, in violation of its Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration treaty of 1984 that provided the basis for British sovereignty over Hong Kong to be transferred to China in 1997. On June 9, an estimated one million demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the extradition bill. On June 16 the number doubled, with an estimated two million of the city’s 7.4 million residents taking part in the protest. In the face of the massive demonstrations, Lam suspended the bill, but did not formally withdraw it. As the demonstrations continued the Hong Kong police became more brutal, and thugs from Hong Kong’s triad gangs were brought in to physically assault the demonstrators, while the police looked the other way. This caused demonstrators to demand that in addition to fully withdrawing the extradition bill, the Hong Kong government release arrested demonstrators, set up an independent inquiry into the police brutality, and establish universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Although the extradition bill has been formally withdrawn, the demonstrations have continued. Hundreds of thousands of umbrellas have festooned the events, symbolizing continuity of concern with the same issues of independence and freedom that sparked the Umbrella Revolution of 2014. That movement was triggered by a proposal of the communist mainland regime to “reform” Hong Kong’s electoral system to essentially give Beijing vetting authority over all political candidates.
Only the willfully blind believed the promises that the British handover of Hong Kong to communist China would turn out any differently than it has. Billed as the “one country, two systems” plan, the framework included promises that Hong Kong would be uniquely exempt, among China’s cities, from the socialist system practiced in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for a period of 50 years. Hong Kong would keep its currency (the Hong Kong dollar), language, laws, and customs, and would retain autonomy in governance. Chinese police would not be allowed to operate in Hong Kong.
Chris Patten, the “Last Governor of Hong Kong” was tasked with selling the handover to Hong Kongers, Brits, and the world — and to counter all critics who saw it for the betrayal that it surely was. Patten was rewarded for his crucial role in this backstabbing by being made a royal peer of the realm (he is now Lord Patten, baron of Barnes), appointed to the European Commission, named chairman of the BBC Trust and co-chairman of the International Crisis Group, appointed chancellor of Oxford University and Vatican media advisor to Pope Francis, and made a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. He has regularly been given columns in The Economist, Financial Times, Project Syndicate, and elsewhere to push globalist schemes, including, notably, support for increased powers for the European Union and opposition to Brexit. While overseeing the BBC, it should be noted, Lord Patten helped contain the sex scandals of notorious BBC pederasts Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, and others.
Although there should have been no illusions that the Beijing communists would stop behaving like communists, there was at least a hope that they would find it in their interests to allow a continuation of the freedoms that had made Hong Kong a financial powerhouse and a cash cow for the socialist regime. As a banking capital, Hong Kong ranks number three in the world, surpassed only by New York and London. It is a major hub of currency exchange for China, as well as a major import-export center, since it is not subject to the same tariffs and import restrictions as China. If the PRC leaders thought Western leaders would respond negatively — and substantively, not merely rhetorically — to infringements on Hong Kong’s autonomy, they might have had some incentive to moderate their actions. But they received only green lights from the West.
One of the most clear-eyed analysts who accurately called the tune on the Hong Kong betrayal was the late Far East expert Hilaire du Berrier, a longtime writer for this magazine. “There was never a chance that the July 1, 1997, handover would bring anything but tragedy,” he wrote in his HduB Reports intelligence newsletter for April 1996. “Peking’s apologists spouted drivel and western statesmen, particularly British, claimed Governor Patten had arranged for a fifty-year period of democracy. It was a dream from the first. ‘Big fish eat little fish; little fish eat crab; crab eat mud’ is Peking’s credo, and to allow democracy to survive in Hong Kong would be admission that she has lost big fish status. All one has to do to know how Hong Kong will be treated once the Union Jack comes down and the People’s Liberation Army moves in is to watch Peking’s military exercises off Taiwan and consider her order that America mind her own business.”
Another writer who refused to join the sugar-coating chorus line was Jonathon Mirsky, who wrote in The Times of London of March 2, 1996: “It is often said that on July 1, 1997, very little will change in Hong Kong. ‘Handover ceremonies apart, one would hardly notice.’ This is pure cant. On that day there will be a political and social earthquake in Hong Kong which in other places would mark a revolution.... The first wholly elected legislative council will be dissolved; the Bill of Rights will be neutered; and supreme legal power on ‘matters of state’ will move to Peking.”
However, the voices of sanity and reason were overwhelmed by the cheering section of the Council on Foreign Relations and the globalist press, which assured, one and all, that far from bringing danger to Hong Kong, the handover would help bring about the liberalization of the mainland. Of course, for that to have any chance of happening would require Western governments to hold China to account and penalize her for any violations, something none of the globalist-dominated governments would ever do — until now.
Under the recently enacted Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, signed by President Trump, the U.S. secretary of state must certify annually that Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous” in order to maintain its special economic status granted under the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. That law has allowed the United States to deal with Hong Kong separately from the mainland on such matters as immigration, investment, and trade since the handover to Chinese rule in 1997.
In attempting to make good on these efforts to protect Hong Kong, President Trump will be going against the mighty Beijing-Wall Street Lobby. As noted above, the plutocrats of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the Council on Foreign Relations, World Economic Forum, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, International Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other advocacy groups for a “New World Order” are pushing for continued “convergence” with China. Like billionaire speculator George Soros (a CFR member and CFR financial sponsor), most of the top “capitalists” of these organizations welcome China’s Communist Party elite as fellow “owners” in the oligarchy of their planned New World Order. In a 2009 interview with the Financial Times, Soros discussed this “ownership,” stating, “I think you really need to bring China into the creation of a new world order, financial world order. I think you need a new world order, that China has to be part of the process of creating it and they have to buy in, they have to own it in the same way as the United States owns … the current order.” Soros and his fellow globalists have no problem with seeing the United States replaced by Communist China as the dominant world power. They have no problem with providing Beijing’s dictators with surveillance equipment and the most advanced weapons technology.
As this writer recently noted in these pages, the gatherings of top U.S. business and financial leaders with their counterparts from China have come more and more to resemble the final dramatic scene from George Orwell’s cautionary tale Animal Farm, in which the faces of the pigs and the men morph until they are indistinguishable from each other. In the U.S.-China relationship, we are dealing now with Deep State Pigmen who permeate virtually all sectors of our economy, as well as academia, think tanks, entertainment, and media.
A good example of the Sino-American Pigmen Pageant was the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations’ 13th annual “China Town Hall” held this past November 18 “at 80+ venues across the United States and China,” as the NCUCR’s promotionals boasted. Among the prestigious universities that hosted the event were Yale, Princeton, Drake, Georgetown, Wesleyan, Brandeis, Columbia, University of California, Arizona State University, and University of Minnesota. George Stephanopoulos (CFR member), Bill Clinton’s White House communications director and now ABC News anchor, moderated the webcast discussion of the event. He was joined by “expert panelists” Stephen Orlins (CFR), Melanie Hart, Yasheng Huang, and Ely Ratner (CFR senior fellow in China Studies). Yasheng Huang is one of many intellectuals from China who are facilitating U.S.-Sino convergence. Dr. Huang, a professor at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has an impressive vita that includes close affiliations with Goldman Sachs, the World Bank, Harvard Business School, Walmart Foundation, World Economic Forum, and Stanford University. He provides a friendly, non-threatening face to help sell the great Pigmen merger.
While China’s propagandists such as Professor Huang have become an increasingly standard feature at American universities, American academic propagandists for China, such as Daniel A. Bell, are, likewise, increasingly common at Chinese universities. Professor Bell, who teaches at Tsinghua University, reliably regurgitates the Beijing line for American media audiences. During the 2014 Hong Kong protests, for instance, the New York Times generously provided him a platform to characterize the demonstrations as a harmful threat to “the most important experiment in political reform.” Really. “The Hong Kong special administrative region is the most important experiment in political reform,” Bell insisted. “But the system assumes that the central government has the ultimate power to determine what works and what doesn’t. If that power is threatened, the experiment may be put to an end. Hong Kong political activists who, willingly or not, harm the relation[ship] with Beijing also harm the chance for Hong Kong-style political reform in mainland China.”
This is the same Tsinghua University where uber-capitalist Stephen Schwarzman has donated $100 million toward building Schwarzman College, as we reported in 2018. Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group, is also raising another $500 million from fellow billionaires for the campus. In addition, as we noted in previous articles, China’s People’s Daily proudly reported in 2017 that “Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and chairman of TerraPower, has been elected as a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), one of the country’s top academic institutions.”
It is the Deep State Pigmen such as Schwarzman, Gates, Bell, Kissinger, and Stephanopoulos who will be fighting any effort by President Trump to reverse course on China trade and to hold Beijing accountable on human rights issues, whether in Hong Kong or on the mainland.
Photo credit: flickr/PasuAUYeung