Today marks the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong. This occasion 25 years ago was a victory for decolonisation and anti-imperialism, showing that the days of gunboat diplomacy and unfair treaties were in the past.
However, there is continued imperialist influence in Hong Kong and a wide-ranging propaganda campaign seeking to galvanise support for colonialist nostalgia and to besmirch anti-imperialist forces, including the actually existing socialist states.
The BBC, running dogs of the state apparatus, monied ruling class, and regressive forces that they are, have broadcast a Panorama episode titled “Hong Kong: Life Under the Crackdown”. The only crackdown I know of is against thugs, traitors, and terrorists.
Within the first minute, we see the wheels of propaganda moving. The trademark BBC grey filter. The bizarre translation of “Hong Kong National Security Police” (national security officers are part of the regular police force). Waxing lyrical about the fact that a rioter faces 10 years in prison, the BBC ignores the fact that such laws were passed under the colonial government.
The show states that “promises were made to protect fundamental freedoms” when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Promises were also made by the United Kingdom to retain the status quo, yet were completely cast aside when the cursed serpent Chris Patten suddenly changed electoral law in blatant violation of the Sino-British agreement. Additionally, despite the show claiming that “China promised freedoms not enjoyed in the rest of the country.” If one reads the Basic Law, which was formulated by the British and Chinese governments, one will find that it is the capitalist system that will be preserved for 50 years, not a liberal democracy.
The 2019 protests are framed as “against greater control from the Chinese government in Beijing”. This completely ignores the actual origin, which was the attempt to have a murderer extradited from the island of Taiwan to Hong Kong. Thanks to the lackeys of imperialism, this criminal now walks free, his only punishment being for using his murdered girlfriend’s credit card.
A rioter is brought on and described as the first to be shot by the Hong Kong Police Force. Yet it should be noted that no rioter was killed as a result of police action in Hong Kong. Anti-communist propaganda is flashed in a Clockwork Orange-esque flurry to reinforce the (entirely false) image of unjustified brutality.
The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is portrayed as overreaching and suddenly applied. Chris Patten is interviewed festooned with a Ukrainian flag ribbon, and describes it as “communist law, is seeping into the whole of the legal system”. Yet the fact that there was no National Security Law prior to 2020 was in fact anti-constitutional. Again, looking to the Basic Law, Article 23 required the government to “enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.” Not only did this not happen, but the Central People’s Government was forced to pass the National Security Law through the National People’s Congress rather than the Hong Kong government taking up its responsibilities.
Apple Daily is described as the most popular newspaper in Hong Kong, and Jimmy Lai is portrayed as a martyr of the “dissident” cause. Neither is true, and as for the second claim, Jimmy Lai is a weaver of false stories who relishes the chance to create depraved articles of the most base nature, including having people pose with prostitutes after their spouse’s death to engender fake public outrage.
Lai claims that “fear is the most inexpensive and convenient way of ruling people and controlling people”, and claims that “history is on our side”. It was exactly fear that the terrorists used when they placed bombs in hospitals and schools, publicly humiliated members of the Chinese press, and set people who disagreed with them on fire, to make themselves out to be the majority view in Hong Kong.
The fact that lawmakers such as Regina Ip still have the patience to engage with the BBC and have themselves included in such so-called “documentaries”, explaining such basic truths as the fact that every country must protect itself from espionage, subversion, and terrorism, is a testament to the patience that China has with foreign journalists. Indeed, Ip rightfully points out that Western governments have an ideological bias against China, a point that is ironically proven in this very show.
A so-called “independent media reporter”, Ronson Chan of Stand News, whom the BBC describes as one of the best-known journalists in Hong Kong, claims that he is a target of the police after the National Security Law has been passed. Footage is played of him crying because his wife supposedly fears for his safety, after which a T-shirt is shown hanging in his apartment with “I [CROWN SYMBOL] GB”. What better proof to show that these treasonous snakes want nothing more than the return of the apartheid colonial system of old, for the price of being nearer to the table to collect crumbs from their colonial masters.
Later, the closure of Stand News and taking down of its website are described as “heavy handed tactics”. What then, of the removal of Russia Today from British airwaves?
Additionally, when the security guards in Ronson Chan’s apartment try to stop the BBC from recording in the reception and corridor areas, this is described as an attack on freedom of speech. However, in Hong Kong, this is standard as a measure to protect the privacy of other residents of apartment blocks.
The wave of immigration is described as a “mass exodus”, and a teacher planning to leave with her husband claims that education in Hong Kong is brainwashing young people and does not tell the truth. If learning not to undermine and attempt to overthrow the People’s Government is considered brainwashing, then so be it.
The 2021 Legislative Council elections are presented as a sham because “almost all pro-democracy council members have been arrested or have fled the city”. Need it be reminded that in Japan the Liberal Democratic Party has held power almost continuously since 1955? Or would it be better for Hong Kong to adopt the one/two-party system of the United Kingdom and the United States? Or perhaps the BBC would prefer that Hong Kong returned to the times when the so-called “pan-democrats” filibustered practically every motion, even if they were essential to the people?
Of course, the tired trope of bringing Tiananmen into the argument is brought back, and scenes of an empty Victoria Park are shown to illustrate that people are not allowed to commemorate the Tiananmen incident. Firstly, the fact that the park continues to not only be named after Queen Victoria, but also has her statue, is an insult to the Chinese nation. Secondly, there is no excuse for allowing the commemoration of counterrevolutionary action. Lastly, the reason for the refusal to allow people to congregate was not even for national security, but as part of COVID prevention measures.
“Activists” claim that their rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are gone, yet are evidently free to collude with foreign media to create black-hearted propaganda. Indeed, in recent months we have seen a resurgence in the tripe being pushed out by the bourgeois media seeking to turn the people of Britain against China. Bringing back the tired, already disproven claims about Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and even that long-forgotten former liberal darling, Tibet, they have seized on public anxiety surrounding the situation in Ukraine and tried to redirect it. The G7 have said that they will counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative with their own so-called “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment”, and the NATO war ministers have decided that China will be treated as an adversary, with the organisation set to include China as an issue in its strategic concept.
As long as people in Britain do not have easy information about the reality of the situation in China, their main source will continue to be propaganda outlets like the BBC. Experience shows that few Britons know of how the so-called “democracy activists” set people on fire in public, bombed hospitals and schools, and tried to deliberately infect people with COVID. Furthermore, the imperialist media and its lackeys have tried to reframe the issue, perversely claiming that it is China colonising Hong Kong, in blatant disregard for the historical truth. Calls for the return of Hong Kong to be described as a “takeover”. The description of the passing of constitutionally required National Security legislation as China “tightening its grip”.
Further provocation can only lead to further escalation. It is clear that with the world’s largest population and second-largest economy, cooperation with China will be instrumental in solving many of the most prescient problems in the world, be it solving climate change or ending epidemics in the Global South. Yet the imperialist powers are more interested in convincing the people that China is spying on them through their coffee machines.
Jingoistic propaganda must be neutered by agitation which shows people the simple facts. In the words of Comrade Werner Lamberz, “Only an information activity that presents even more comprehensive and at the same time more versatile, factual and knowledgeable, up-to-date and incisive nature and manifestations of events, satisfies the growing needs of the more mature and educated reader”. And the truth is that the people are being pushed to direct their energy against an outside state that strives for peaceful coexistence, international peace, and security, when at home their government treats them for fools, pushing them into a politically-decided cost-of-living crisis and salami-slicing their rights away.
It is time to smash these criminals’ media weapons before they bring us over the edge and into a world conflict. Biden’s claim that the United States would intervene militarily to prevent unification of Taiwan with the Mainland, and their continued support for a failed colour revolution, is proof that they are trying to push the bottom line and test the waters for their aggression.
Ethan Chan, is a member of the YCL’s Glasgow branch