Hong Kong: The unravelling of the ‘telling of history’

Jul 11, 2023
Hong Kong Night City Light Show / Harbour View.

Under British rule, elected representation, so widely proclaimed by the usual gang of western governments as being essential for Hong Kong’s people, was as remote as a lighthouse in a desert.

As it is now the third anniversary of the first article I submitted to Pearls and Irritations on the subject of Hong Kong it seems appropriate to maintain the practice. And I would first of all like to use the recently published excellent article by Chandran Nair The West must prepare for a long overdue reckoning as a template for the scenario in Hong Kong, as there are so many HK examples of the major trends he highlights:

First, the unraveling of the “telling of history”.

Hong Kong of course carries a massive historical legacy, its formation being as a result of the one-sided opium wars. But closer to today is the legacy of the UK administration of Hong Kong as a colony, ruled by foreign office appointed mandarins who arrived complete with plumed hat to impose London’s rule on Hong Kong’s population. Actually when I arrived in 1974 it was widely said that HK was ruled by the Hong Kong Club, the Jockey Club and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, perhaps a slight overstatement but not very far from the truth! Any kind of elected representation, as the type now so widely proclaimed by the usual gang of western governments as being essential for Hong Kong’s people was as remote as a lighthouse in a desert, not even worthy of discussion, while now 30 years on we are told we cannot possibly live without it.

Second is the so called “Rules Based international Order”. Actually I think Hong Kong can claim to be one of the first communities where this term was applied. Personally I do not recall its use prior to 2019, when suddenly out of the blue anything related to the governance of Hong Kong was defined by the usual culprits as being not in line with “Rules Based International Order”. Actually when the government of Hong Kong, backed by Beijing, was acting strictly in accordance with Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law, in which the UK had a prominent role in crafting, the use of this term made no sense at all except of course to the anti China brigade, whose understanding of the Basic Law was widely exposed to be non-existent.

Third is the unmasking of western “peacekeeping”. Fortunately the Hong Kong situation in 2019/20 never escalated to a straight out military conflict, contrary of course to the dreams of the Western media who were drooling over the possibility of tanks rolling across the border from Shenzhen. But what we did see instead was the weaponising by various governments of sanctions and immigration policies designed to punish Hong Kong and its people. The UK probably led the way on this one, suddenly reversing their previous policies and deciding that they would open their arms to anyone wanting to migrate from HK to the UK, hoping for maybe 3 million wealthy, industrious HKer’s to pitch up at Heathrow. Sadly for the broken UK the numbers seem to be more like 100-200 thousand, many arriving with very limited funds, and not a big factor for HK which has always seen both outward and inward population flows.

The US stayed away from providing such an “open arms” approach, recognising that throwing open doors to widespread immigration would not sit well with its widespread anti immigration policies, instead they opt for “scaremongering”. Even today we are regularly treated to dire warnings of the risks to US citizens and businesses seeking to set foot in Hong Kong or China from the State Department mouthpiece located in the oversized US Consulate on Garden Road. One can only wonder how their head diplomat looks in the mirror each morning.

Fourth is the weaponisation of finance, and here the West was up against it given Hong Kong’s extremely robust financial situation and government reserves, a bit like David taking on Goliath, and that is before any kind of additional support from Beijing. Traditional efforts by the western alliances would seek to undermine the economic foundations of a target country through various manipulations, in the case of Hong Kong they were sent packing, one example being the very substantial bet against the HK$ peg by Mr Kyle Bass, a US investment “Guru” which blew up in his face. Furthermore efforts to force financial institutions such as HSBC to choose between working in western markets or working in HK and China have not delivered the desired results for the west….how embarrassing for them.

Fifth, and here HK has been in the forefront, is the collapse of the western media’s credibility. I would suggest that nowhere else has the incredible incompetence of western journalism been more totally exposed them here in Hong Kong, for the simple reason that we could all see exactly what is going on. In the early days of the 2019 troubles we were used to being frustrated watching the likes of the BBC, Washington Post, Bloomberg et cetera et cetera publishing what we could see with our own eyes to be stories from a fantasy land, bearing no resemblance to the reality on the ground. Now, over time, this frustration has become simply complete and utter disrespect for any kind of western so-called journalism. Examples of their outright untruths are too many to mention, and we must be very thankful for the work of Nury Vittachi and his book “The other side of the story”, not to mention P&I for shining a light on the wilful weaponising by the western media by their willingness to disregard any kind of journalistic principles in their rush to produce fawning western propaganda.

So, my thanks to Mr Nair for his excellent observations, and I would suggest that Hong Kong has in fact played a significant role in accelerating the long overdue reckoning he forecasts, but then again Hong Kong has always been in the forefront of just about any important development, so it should not surprise if we turn out to be in the front in this case.

Now, turning to where we stand three years after I first put pen to paper in an attempt to try to counter the deluge of negative news about Hong Kong, where we fielded almost daily messages from friends and family living in the west enquiring if we were okay and even whether we, as non Chinese, would still be able to live in Hong Kong!

My first article was met with a furious response from one Mr Martin Painter, a short term expatriate resident of HK who felt my views represented that of an entitled foreigner. Well, three years on I would say to Mr Painter that his vision of HK. along perhaps with Mr Mike “HK is a gulag” Pompeo have fallen well wide of reality, today HK is bouncing back with a vengeance, supported by a significant financial “ war chest”…yes even after bearing the cost of the Covid lockdowns Hong Kong remains in a very strong financial position… and with an abundance of vision and commitment of execution for policies that will provide stability and opportunity for those who wish to make a go of life in this “barren rock”.

I have no doubt that this will continue to frustrate the anti-China West, I have no doubt that we will continue to be at the receiving end of megaphone diplomacy from the state department mouthpiece in Garden Road and their acolytes in the UK, Canberra and Ottawa, but in seeking to portray HK people as the victims of oppressive Beijing policies they face the unenviable task of acting with horror to any possible crumb of evidence they can find to justify their “Rules Based International Order” hegemony.

On this line, one can only imagine the hysteria when Jimmy Lai comes to trial in a month or two, but that is a story for another day, meanwhile to the distress of western governments, their media buddies and the usual gang of anti Beijing activists such as Ted Hui and Nathan Law I can only say “good luck”.

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