On the 7th of July 2020 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jin Ping held one of their regular telephone conversations. The fact of the call, let alone its content, received scant coverage in the western mainstream media. This was unfortunate because what the two men had to say conveyed major geopolitical decisions. The impact of those decisions will have major consequences.
Rather than paying heed to what the two men were discussing, and its broader implications, the West was instead focused on the ongoing conflict in Hong Kong. Three countries in particular were using their agents to stir up trouble in the former British colony; the United States, Great Britain and Australia.
There is a deep irony in the loud protestations of the leaders of those three countries in their professed concern for Hong Kong democracy. It was only a little over 20 years ago that Hong Kong was returned to China, which it had been an integral part of for more than 1000 years until forcefully colonised by the British in the mid 19th century.
For the next 150 years there was no democracy in Hong Kong. It was ruled by a British government appointed Governor. The people of Hong Kong did not even have the right to vote. The protestations about Hong Kong’s alleged loss of democracy after its return to China (with a 50-year transition!) are a classic example of that long-established British trait of hypocrisy. One would be hard put to locate illustrations of western governments, including the United States and Australia, clamouring for Hong Kong democracy prior to 1999.
This historical record needs to be kept firmly in mind when one reads in the western media of their politicians lamenting the loss of Hong Kong “democracy” as the Beijing government asserts its authority. One would search long and hard for any other example in the world where a colonial power relinquished its control on such adverse and restrictive conditions.
The western powers, especially the aforementioned trio, have no intention of recognising China’s legitimate rights in Hong Kong. Their actions go beyond political speeches, and lamenting the alleged loss of democracy in the former colony. The evidence is overwhelming that the protesters in Hong Kong demonstrating, often with considerable violence against persons and property, are armed, financed, and politically supported by the aforementioned trio of countries.
There are approximately 3 million Hong Kong citizens (of a total population of 7,000,000) who, at least in theory, have the capacity to emigrate to the United Kingdom or some other country such as Australia. Part of the anti-Beijing propaganda from the aforementioned trio is to suggest that those 3 million or so individuals could emigrate to their countries.
The western media, which solemnly reports these vague proposals without qualification or question, never consider the logistics of such an exercise, assuming for the moment, improbably, that it was either feasible or indeed the wishes of the aforementioned 3 million Hong Kong citizens.
While it is probable that at least some, no-one can say how many, of the supposed 3 million would either wish to leave, or would be welcomed in the three countries, and would actually leave. No one familiar with the current and past attitudes of any of the three countries to mass Chinese migration can be in any doubt that the vague promises currently being offered are strictly for propaganda purposes.
The aforementioned telephone conversation between Putin and Xi was exactly right in their reported pledge to cooperate against “external sabotage and intervention”. The two leaders recognise the brutal truth that the western politicians do not care one iota for the people of Hong Kong, but see them as useful tools in the ongoing propaganda war against both China and its increasingly close ally, Russia.
This was reinforced by Xi when he referred specifically to the “external sabotage and intervention of the western powers” in his conversation with Putin. The specific Russian view was set out by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in her press conference on 2nd June. Ms Zakharova noted Russia’s support for what the Chinese government was endeavouring to achieve in Hong Kong. Russia considers “all issues pertaining to Hong Kong to be China’s domestic affairs” she said.
Both Russia and China are pursuing a larger geopolitical agenda. Trade between the two countries exceeded $110 billion in 2019. Their geopolitical cooperation may also be seen in their effective underwriting of Iran’s continued freedom from direct United States attack, and incorporation of Iran into a prominent role in the rapidly expanding Belt and Road Initiative.
It is more than a coincidence that neither of the United States, United Kingdom or Australia have expressed any interest in, or support for, the BRI. To the contrary, Australia and the United States are busy trying to create alternative economic structures to compete with the BRI. There is also evidence of direct attempts by the United States to foster internal disorganisation within China, notably with their support for the returned jihadists in China’s western regions.
As the recent moves by Japan indicate, such manoeuvres are doomed to fail, because their motive is manifestly anti-China. Desperate propaganda attempts such as portraying China’s involvement with the island nations of the eastern and southern Pacific as contrary to those nations interests notwithstanding, it is obvious that China offers a better future than the neo-colonial past of those nations. Or indeed the neo–colonial future that is the inevitable outcome of United States and Australian “protection”.
Trump appears to share the delusion of the compelling attractiveness of the western model. He recently invited Russia to attend the next meeting of the G7 nations which had expelled Russia over the manifestly false narrative regarding Crimea. The G7, which does not include the world’s largest economy, China, is not as attractive as United States thinking assumes.
On 4 July 2020 Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov described the United States invitation to Russia to attend the G7 as a “flawed idea”. The American concept of expanding the G7 was itself flawed, Ryabkov said, “because it is unclear to us how the authors of that initiative consider the Chinese factor. Without China it is impossible to discuss certain issues in the modern world.”
Russia clearly sees itself in a similar position. Trump’s invitation was not aimed at getting Russian involvement in canvassing critical geopolitical issues. Even if Trump himself had worthy intentions, they are not shared by other members of his administration, let alone the Democrat party and the overwhelming majority of United States mainstream media, the military and CIA establishments, or the United States Congress.
What the experience of China in the current furore over Hong Kong demonstrates above all, is that the western powers will stop at nothing to undermine it and every national organisation that enjoys the benefits of cooperation and development with China. That manifestly does not include the western nations (with some exceptions) who are not reacting well to the steady demise of their geopolitical dominance of the past 200 to 300 years.
Hong Kong may be properly regarded as a weapon in a much larger geopolitical battle.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.