Tony Kwok writes that the next Chief Executive needs to make security a priority to combat a likely increase in espionage and destabilization efforts by Washington following the upcoming inauguration of a US president clearly hostile to China.
Donald Trump is clearly no friend of China! Even before he is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Jan 20, he has not hesitated to display his hostility against China. First, he purposely had an unprecedented phone call with Taiwan’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, breaking the 36-year convention of US presidents or presidents-elect refraining from speaking with a Taiwan leader. Then Trump tried to provoke China by toying with the idea of abandoning the One China policy as a threat, knowing full well how China regards this as a non-negotiable issue of sovereignty. Mostly recently, he appointed Peter Navarro, a noted China critic and author of the book Death by China as the new director of trade and industrial policy.
Even more alarming was Trump’s remark about increasing the US stockpile of nuclear weapons, subtly prodding Russia to do likewise, and thereby setting off an uncalled-for and exceptionally dangerous nuclear arms race.
Let us not forget that we are talking about a man described by his own people as mad, who on becoming president will be entrusted with the super-secret access code to the nuclear button that can destroy the world at the touch of his fingertips!
So what about Trump and Hong Kong? First, Hong Kong needs to be prepared to face the imminent fallout of a possible trade war between the US and China. Second, we need to be very vigilant to ward off any US political interference in Hong Kong.
Even during the relatively peaceful relations between the two countries, the US was active in spying and supporting the anti-China movement in Hong Kong. This was among the sensational revelations made by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who described the large-scale interception of communications among Hong Kong officials and citizens conducted by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents stationed in the US consulate in Hong Kong. In addition, there is now evidence that the 79-day “Occupy Central” protests were all funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The media also uncovered secret meetings between US consulate staff and Hong Kong separatists. Clearly the objective of these clandestine activities was to recruit and support these activists to create political instability in Hong Kong as part of a color revolution to cause local turmoil and upset China.
Hence it can be foreseen that with Trump in the White House, and taking into account his open hostility toward China, the US intelligence agencies will undoubtedly intensify their efforts to stir up more internal trouble in Hong Kong. One obvious area they will try to penetrate is the “HK independence” separatist movement. Taking all this into consideration,the next Chief Executive must be extra vigilant against covert US intelligence activities further inflaming our current fractious social and political atmosphere. To cope with the challenge, he or she should promptly set in motion the drafting of national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, in particular targeting those politicians, NGOs, journalists and academics receiving secret foreign funds.
The Security Wing of the Hong Kong Police Force should be strengthened to enhance its intelligence capabilities. They have the unenviable task of confronting Washington’s all powerful CIA and hence should be given more resources and technical support. One way is to restore the police force’s organizational structure of colonial times, when the Special Branch was headed by a deputy commissioner of police who had enormous resources at his disposal.
Moving on, remember when the “pan-democrats” who helped organize “Occupy Central” promised to publish their financial statements listing their sources of income plus details of expenditure? Two years have now passed but the statements are nowhere in sight. The logical conclusion is that they are attempting to hide the source of foreign financial aid. It is time for the police to step in to investigate this shady affair, since the public is entitled to know who were the main backers of this massive political and social disruption, which caused significant economic loss and public inconvenience. Once they are identified, the Department of Justice prosecutors should promptly prosecute them and recommend severe sentences to send a clear message of deterrence.
Meanwhile, there was a very poor response to the ongoing public call for donations toward the cost of litigation for the legislators-elect facing judicial review over the scrapping of their LegCo oaths. Interestingly, the donation campaign has been taken over by the earlier organizers of “Occupy Central”. One would view with suspicion how they might succeed in getting any large sum in donations. Again the police should keep a close watch on developments.
Finally, what we need is a strong CE, similar to Leung Chun-ying, who has demonstrated a steady nerve in dealing with explosive political and violent crises. Indeed, Leung would have been the ideal CE to confront the future challenges of the Trump era. It is a real loss for Hong Kong that he has decided not to run in the next CE election for family reasons.
The author is a former deputy commissioner of the ICAC and currently an adjunct professor of HKU SPACE and an international anti-corruption consultant.