Published: 19:43, June 14, 2024
Western attacks on Hong Kong are completely unfounded
By Andrew Fung

The United States has three tools to dominate the world: money, military and media. Western countries love to use authoritative figures to judge the world and twist the facts as they see fit. In 2003, the US Secretary of State used a vial containing unknown white powder to accuse Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, ultimately destroying a prosperous, secular Islamic country with a brutal invasion. The US military stayed in Iraq for 20 years without finding any weapons of mass destruction. But the prosperity of Iraq was lost, its people were displaced, and the ancient relics of a civilization were severely damaged.

Today, the US is using its influence in the media to suppress China. Since 2020, it has been smearing the cotton production in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, simply because US-produced cotton can’t compete with Xinjiang’s. Lately, the US has turned its attention to Hong Kong. Former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach recently repeated his three negative points about Hong Kong. Upon closer examination, Roach’s comments are not based on economics but political agenda.

Roach claims that US-China tensions are affecting Hong Kong. If Roach truly cared about Hong Kong, he should call on the US government to stop suppressing China; after all, the US-China tensions were not initiated by China. Roach kept highlighting Hong Kong’s economic linkage to that of the Chinese mainland, arguing that a weak mainland economy will have an impact on Hong Kong, which is absurd. Hong Kong, as part of China, is naturally intertwined with the mainland economically. This is akin to saying that New York could remain unaffected when the overall US economy is struggling. Roach’s third point is that Hong Kong’s national security laws “affecting” freedom of speech will harm its economy. This is another misconception. Even former US president Donald Trump described the 2019 protests in Hong Kong as riots. Does Roach, as an economist, sincerely believe that allowing riots would protect “freedom of speech” and boost Hong Kong’s economy?

After succumbing to mounting pressure from the UK government and politicians, British judge Lord Jonathan Sumption recently resigned from his post as an overseas nonpermanent judge in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (HKCFA).

He dramatized his resignation by wantonly slandering Hong Kong’s legal system and judiciary in his article published in the Financial Times and televised interviews. However, he could not provide any evidence to support his allegations, aside from arbitrary assertions.

It is a pity that Sumption, a senior judge, disregarded the need for evidence in promoting his serious charges against his subject. People would be excused for suspecting that Sumption was leveraging his professional status and the power of Western media to serve the China-bashing cause under a broader geopolitical strategy.

In his article, Sumption claimed that Hong Kong judges “operate in an impossible political environment created by China”. But where is the evidence? He also criticized the mechanism in the Basic Law that allows the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) to interpret its clauses. This mechanism has been in place since the Basic Law was enacted on April 4, 1990. Sumption should have been aware of this mechanism when he accepted his appointment as an overseas nonpermanent judge of the HKCFA. So what is wrong with the NPCSC acting lawfully? Does Sumption, a senior common law judge, believe that even with such a mechanism in place, it should not be used appropriately to uphold the rule of law? Then why have laws? What would be the authority of the law?

It’s also laughable that Sumption cited Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s supposed inability to hire an overseas lawyer who is not even eligible to practice law in Hong Kong when attacking the NPCSC’s interpretation of the relevant provisions in the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL)— not the Basic Law as claimed by Sumption.

Yet he forgot that Lai had already appointed Marc Corlett, a barrister qualified to practice law in Hong Kong, in December 2023. This appointment complies fully with the NPCSC’s interpretation of the relevant provisions of the NSL, and neither the NPCSC nor the Hong Kong prosecution raised any objection to that appointment.

No Western country would allow overseas lawyers to participate in their national security cases. Many European countries and the mainland follow the civil law system; would European countries allow Chinese lawyers to participate in their national security cases?

Hong Kong follows the common law, as do the US and the UK; would they allow Hong Kong lawyers to participate in their national security cases? In fact, the NPCSC's interpretation does not ban foreign lawyers who has been qualified to practice in Hong Kong from participating in Hong Kong’s national security cases; it merely empowers Hong Kong to resolve the issue of whether nonqualified overseas lawyers are allow to participate in national security cases--by itself in accordance with the NSL—a much more lenient arrangement compared to the West. Does Sumption not understand this? He is just pretending to be unaware of these basic facts. As expected, Western media seized on Sumption’s wild allegations and leveraged his professional status to disparage Hong Kong’s legal system to serve their broader geopolitical strategy.

Neither Roach nor Sumption can provide convincing evidence to support their negative narratives on and allegations against Hong Kong. Roach boasts of his integrity and credibility but won’t acknowledge that the US government initiated the great power competition. Sumption cooperates with the West in attacking Hong Kong but cannot cite any cases of judges being pressured by the HKSAR government or the Chinese central government. He even avoids mentioning that Lai had already hired a New Zealand barrister. These “heavyweight” Western figures’ criticisms of and allegations against Hong Kong do not hold water. They merely use their professional statuses to serve, as tools, the geopolitical strategy of the US, the UK and their other allies against China. They can’t fool the world.

The author is a former information coordinator of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.