‘A Lever to Harass China’: US Protests Security Law Because it Lost Access to Hong Kong ‘Sore Spot’

© REUTERS / Tyrone SiuBuildings are seen above Hong Kong and Chinese flags, as pro-China supporters celebration after China's parliament passes national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2020.
Buildings are seen above Hong Kong and Chinese flags, as pro-China supporters celebration after China's parliament passes national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2020.  - Sputnik International
Despite US outrage over China’s national security law for Hong Kong, many countries, including the US, have national security laws of their own, KJ Noh, Scholar of Asia-Pacific geopolitics and correspondent for Flashpoints, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch and other outlets, told Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits Thursday.

The legislation, which is supported by Hong Kong leadership and was signed into law by Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 30, bars subversion, secession, terrorism or foreign collusion that could threaten national security. Some Hong Kong residents have protested against the law, arguing that it undermines their liberties. Similarly, the US has condemned the law, claiming that it threatens Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Noh told host Bob Schlehuber on Thursday the law was “largely a response to the incredible acts of terrorism that we saw last year, that we saw over eight months. And then it also has another section on collusion, and this has to do with the fact that these acts of terror, these riots are being funded from abroad, largely through the NED [National Endowment for Democracy] and through the United States.”

Indeed, just a day after the law was signed, Demosisto, the protest group led by anti-Beijing activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, disbanded itself. The trio has extensively courted Western politicians seeking political and financial support for Hong Kong dissidents since the 2014 protests.

“Just recently, the US withdrew funding for about $2 million for the USAGM [The US Agency for Global Media],” Noh said. “This was funding that was destined for the Hong Kong riot … this was withdrawn. We know already that this funding was in the pipeline and there had been millions that had been channeled in the year, so it [the national security law] would prevent that kind of collusion with foreign powers that are seeking to destabilize or institute a color revolution.”

Last week, Time reported the Trump administration had frozen funding intended to assist the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. The freeze came just a few days after Michael Pack, a Trump ally, was confirmed by the Senate to head the USAGM, which oversees funding for several US state media organs targeting foreign audiences, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Farda.

However, Noh pointed out that Beijing’s new measure is far from exceptional: almost every country has national security legislation,” he said, noting that fact is “something that is being skimmed over in the mainstream media.”

“National security legislation, because it is national, is legislated on a national level,” Noh noted. “This national security act is not something new or out of the blue, but it was actually required by the ‘One Country, Two Systems’” principle, when the territory was returned to China by the United Kingdom, which had seized it as a war prize in 1842.

“So, there is a lot of misdirection and misinformation going out there, but I would say it’s pretty much a fairly standard national security law, as you would have in almost every country. And it’s also a counterbalance to the eight months of rioting that happened last year, and it's the counterbalance to the ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ in that the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ has a provision which urges universal suffrage in Hong Kong. And in order to make that possible you need to safeguard sovereignty,” Noh explained. 

Earlier this week, the US ended its export of defense equipment and to Hong Kong, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeting, "if Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System,’ so must we.” However, Beijing has repeatedly denounced US interference in Hong Kong, stating that as the city is a part of China and that the US should not meddle in its internal affairs.

According to Noh, it is too early to tell how the national security law could affect Hong Kong citizens. 

“There was an example of one person who was arrested for having a banner which said, ‘independence of Hong Kong.’ Now, we’ll see if he actually gets charged for that crime. We’ll see what happens. I actually think it won’t happen. There were some protests and several hundred people were arrested and it was one of the smaller protests in about a year … but I think that most of those people will be arrested for violating the ban on public gathering. This protest was not authorized and there is currently a ban on large gatherings,” Noh explained.

“Now, we also have to point out that, for example, symbolism is important and even in Western Europe, you can be arrested for waving the wrong type of banner,” Noh noted. “I think that the Hong Kong authorities may consider the Hong Kong secessionists to be on par with that, given the eight months” of violent protest and attempted color revolution.

“I think the other thing to point out is there was another person who was arrested, he was waving a banner, but it was on the back of a motorcycle … and he drove this motorcycle probably about 80 miles per hour right into a line of police and he injured three. So, that person may be arrested on the national security law, but they could also charge him for reckless endangerment,” Noh explained.

US condemnation of the law in an effort to delegitimize China, Noh added.

“I think the US wants to harass and delegitimize China in any way it can. We’re currently in a period of great power competition. The US has designated China as a revisionist state, that means, official enemy, and this is part of its psyop, or information warfare, against China. So, trying to delegitimize China by any means possible,” he said.

“Hong Kong serves as a lever to harass China. As we know, there’s been an massive influx of funding, organization support, for these Hong Kong rioters, which I actually would say that there is, you know, tremendous Nazi and neo-Nazi support of these Hong Kong rioters … all over the world. Right-wing, alt-right, right-wing facist movements have been very, very much in support of these Hong Kong riots,” Noh explained.

“We do know that Hong Kong is, to put it kindly, a neoliberal nightmare. It’s what happens when you have a city which is entirely financialized and run for the benefit of corporations. This is how the British set it up … This has to do with maintaining a …. sore spot or vulnerability against China and ensuring that capital and capitalism has its way. There are 300,000 people in Hong Kong who live in cages … this is the kind of wealth disparity [that exists]. At the same time, a single parking lot, a parking space in Hong Kong can cost a $1 million. So it's one of the most unequal places in the world and it’s no surprise that people are upset and protesting,” Noh added.

Many people in Hong Kong are in support of the national security law, Noh pointed out. “Over 2.3 million people Hong kong citizens have come out and signed a petition in favor of this national security law.”

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