GEORGE MICKHAIL. There is no freedom in a society, if there is no public order!

The French Police’s brutal force against the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) protesters since November 2018 did not attract the same ‘international’ media outrage as that directed at the Hong Kong SAR police force despite being a lot less violent than the ‘mainstream’ media would make us believe.

On 21 August 2019, the French President Macron stated that ‘Il n’y a pas de liberté dans une société s’il n’y a pas d’ordre public’ or “There is no freedom in a society if there is no public order” in his meeting with the national press about his ‘rethink’ of police operations that were marred by police violence in the ongoing ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) protests since November 17, 2018.

The French Police’s brutal force against the Yellow Vests’ protesters since November 2018 seems not to warrant the same international media outrage as that directed at the Hong Kong SAR police force. Is it not China’s sovereign right, just like France, to maintain public order in order to ensure freedom for its citizens?

On the 10th of December 2018, a month after the start of the protests, the French government declared a state of economic & social emergency.  Then, on 21 March 2019, the French government announced plans to redeploy military soldiers from the anti-terrorism ‘Sentinelle’ patrol force to help police guard public buildings.  This escalation is in stark contrast to the more measured and conciliatory response by the executive authorities of the Hong Kong SAR and the Chinese Central Government.

In the first 4-months of the Yellow Vests’ protests in France, the cumulative number of protestors was 1,698,342 (a median of the French Ministry of Interior reported estimate of 1,387,100 and the Yellow Vests’ reported estimate of 2,009,583), by comparison to approximately 3,384,013 protestors in Hong Kong (a median of the authorities reported estimate of 1,102,725 and the organisers reported estimate of 5,665,300 from March 31 to August 23, 2019).

In France there were 11 dead; 8,400 arrested (1,954 convicted, 762 incarcerated, 1,755 pending judgement); 4,000 injured (94 seriously); more than 24 who lost an eye; 5 who lost a limb and 13,095 LBD (Flash Balls) shots fired at protestors.  Whereas in Hong Kong, there were 5 dead by suicide; 748 arrests; 2,100 injured; 1 who lost an eye (though officially unconfirmed) and 160 LBD shots fired at protestors.

In other words, the number of protestors in Hong Kong were twice as many as those that protested in France; arrests in France were 11 times those made in Hong Kong; twice as many were injured and dead in France; 10 times as many were seriously injured in France; 24 times as many lost an eye in France; 5 times as many lost a limb in France and 82 times as many LBD (Flash Balls) fired at protestors in France.

The authorities response and the human toll of the protests in Hong Kong are far from having reached the levels of severity of France, which speaks volumes of the impeccable restraint of Hong Kong SAR Police (rather than the gratuitous violence that the international media would have us believe) and service to the people in dealing with the protests.

It also exemplifies a long-held Chinese Confucian maxim that self-restraint and service in pursuit of greater harmony can bring about a just and harmonious society, which is the answer to chaos and conflict in the world.

Hong Kong has had a long history of protests and riots, where British colonial forces brutalized many uprisings in the territory over more than a century until its rightful return to China in 1997.  So, it is rather ludicrous to see protestors waving British and U.S. flags, because if anything else, it is NOT China that is waging a trade war that is threatening our global economy or made our world more dangerous over the past 30 years, but rather Anglo-American exceptionalism.

The current protests seem to echo a deep-seated superiority complex and condescending attitude towards the mainland Chinese despite China’s recent efforts in reducing the poverty rate in Hong Kong from a high of 20.1% to 14.7% with targeted government programs.

This was only one of many programs to revive Hong Kong’s economy after losing its privileged economic status when it contributed 27% in 1993 (currently at 2.7%) to China’s GDP.  The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is yet another initiative to help reinvigorate Hong Kong as part of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.

It is morally corrupt for the ‘international’ media czars of ‘freedom and democracy’ to ‘grandstand’ and privilege France’s moral prerogative in dealing with its internal affairs, while denying China the same rights.

George Mickhail is an LSE trained academic with 30 years’ experience in major business schools in Australia, China, France and the United States.  His research focuses on mapping corporate financial networks and their geopolitical threat.  Prior to academe, he worked in international accounting firms and Global 500 financial services institutions. 

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7 Responses to GEORGE MICKHAIL. There is no freedom in a society, if there is no public order!

  1. Charles Lowe says:

    I’m surprised that no-one (including the author) has mentioned what to me is obvious: the response from the authorities depends also (and, I suggest, in large measure) on what they see as the degree of provocation, particularly the degree of violence in protesters’ behaviours.

    That said, I too admire what seems to me to have been a relative restraint on the part of the Hong Kong authorities. Perhaps their strategy is to iteratively keep calming things down until it becomes clear that they’ll wait until 2047 to transit to ‘one state, one system’.

    But, then, what of Taiwan?

  2. Malcolm Crout says:

    You’ve raised an interesting point George, but we shouldn’t forget that China has form in dealing with democracy dissidents such as the awful events at Tiananmen Square, which the Chinese have expunged from their own records, but the rest of the world has not. In my opinion, this is the reason why the free press is closely watching unfolding events in Hong Kong. The public in the west are entitled to be fully informed and the media moguls that you deride are, by keeping the events front and centre of the western public, in fact making China avoid the repeat of the previous massacre.

    • George Mickhail says:

      Thank you Malcolm for your comments. It seems to me that China’s progress over the past 30-40 years would not have been possible without sufficient self-critique and reflection to make the necessary ‘adjustments’ to its path and place in the world. Britain, the United States and Australia invaded Iraq in 2003 on false pretenses let alone brutalized the Iraqi people, which produced the likes of El Baghdady who founded ISIS and the ensuing terrorism ever since. It seems to me that the Western media doesn’t hold Britain, the US and Australia to the same high standard, as we expect of China and despite it being a model global citizen for over 30 years. The Western media had lost its credibility, and ideals like freedom and democracy ring hollow now that we see protests in Moscow and Hong Kong SAR without people losing their eyes or their limbs – as in France!

  3. R. N. England says:

    So much for ABC reportage of the Hong Kong riots. Its level of malice in that and other matters has been on a par with that of Alan Jones. ABC and commercial journalists’ pronouncements on any matter ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be believed till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.

  4. Peter Small says:

    Australia’s response to international events is completely disproportionate. It depends whether the aggressor is France or Hong Kong (China) as George Mickhail describes above, or Britain (Julian Assange) and China ( Yang Hengjun and his wife Yuan).
    The West is sick and getting sicker by the day! Australia’s sickness will get rewarded with poverty because of our abuse and disregard for our key customer. Too late to cry once the milk is spilled!

  5. Hal Duell says:

    So far, I think China has shown admirable restraint in Hong Kong, despite obvious interference from “the west”. They seem to be waiting for those with work to return to work and those with classes to return to classes. Then facial recognition will be employed, and those ringleaders who are unable to obtain a ticket west will be rounded-up and sent for reeducation. They will then discover just how fickle their backers are.
    Hong Kong will remain part of China.
    But what I think we are witnessing in both Hong Kong and in France is the emergence of a new reality, the reality of urban warfare. Climate change, population growth and lack of a perceived future drive people off the land and out of villages and into burgeoning, unprepared and inadequate cities where discontent and anxiety rule the streets.
    How governments answer that discontent, how they incorporate it into realistic and realisable plans for the future, will set the parameters of the emerging new world order.

    • Peter Small says:

      The only to restore some egailty and fund what society needs is to collect the economic rent. A tax on all land and property. Time to dust off Henry George.

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