Stalemate (Wikipedia) The word stalemate is [also] used as a metaphor for a conflict that has reached an impasse and resolution seems difficult or impossible.
After a month since the initial clashes between pro-democratic protesters and the Hong Kong government police force which took place on the 28th of September I think it is fair to conclude that all players on all sides are about equally strong opponents by the simple expedient of the ensuing month of stalemate.
Some locals take offense that a westerner such as me, especially one that has only been in Hong Kong for a bit over 4 years, has the audacity to comment on such a situation, much less forward an opinion about it. Be that as it may, I will again offer some opined comments or rather stream of consciousness about the situation, especially regarding the pro-government propaganda statements that Occupy Central and the Umbrella movement and its leaders are backed and fueled by Western foreign interests.
No doubt pro-democracy institutions such as NDI and NED have an interest in HK. This is not even a secret. As to a more sinister agenda, that is largely a subject of conjecture – one which the CCP loves to elaborate about.
The way it appears to me is that the Hong Kong democracy movement is relatively solid. It certainly has enough popular support to be able to disrupt the operation of the pro-Beijing government without causing a tremendous backlash. It benefits from mature, experienced leadership, financial and moral support from a variety of sources, and advocates in the press (Jimmy Lai’s Apple Daily) and in the Legislative Council (the pro- and pan-democratic coalition). Some demographics are on its side with residents, mainly youth and people with western connections, identifying themselves as Hong Kongers and this proportion will probably increase as Hong Kong’s youth grow into more political maturity.
The opposition is certainly not in the minority though, from stick-in-the-mud Hong Kong locals who just want to get on with their life and think things are pretty hunky dory already, to lower-income shop keepers being directly affected by the protest movement in the streets; middle-class and upper class mainlanders now residing in Hong Kong; the influential resource rich and pro-Beijing’s tycoons and the media they represent, and, many people who are in the middle who believe the current proposal for the One Country – Two Systems could work.
Out of pure leverage there are also the factors of the enormous financial pressure China could bring to bear on its opponents, and the fact that the PRC has its boot poised above Hong Kong’s neck not only in the matter of the intimidating shadow of the People’s Armed Police and PLA, but also in Hong Kong’s vulnerability to China in matters as the stability of its financial services industry and down to its supply of food and water.
If one were to do a causal review of the media one will find on the pro-democratic side a potpourri of Western endless streams of coverage about the peaceful, adorable, homework-doing, trash-collecting students, while the local pro-democratic media likes to focus on the scum activists and police down in Mong Kok, resignation of CY Leung, the incompetence of the HK government and a myriad of red China exposés featuring human rights abuses or simply lack of human rights period.
The pro-government side and Chinese media are just as full of endless streams of statements declaring the umbrella movement and its actions and demands illegal, unconstitutional and violating the Basic Law. Mainland Chinese media has also focused recently on providing leaked information about key players in the Occupy movement in an attempt to discredit them. Western media has paid almost no attention to this, possibly because none of the leaked documents contain a real smoking gun. Hard to say if the documents are indeed authentic but there’s good reason to believe that most of them are genuine.
For those who can only read English I will provide a summary of these leaked documents as many of them are only locatable and readable in Chinese.
The first big dump of leaked documents occurred on July 21st after somebody hacked Jimmy Lai’s e-mails and anonymously posted them online. The emails (which Jimmy himself acknowledged as authentic) revealed sizable funding (in the millions of dollars) of pro-democracy organizations, individuals, and politicians. More details. Jimmy Lai has been quite vocal about the cyber attacks on him personally as well as his Next Media group. SCMP coverage. One of Next Media’s top editors had to relocate his family from Hong Kong in fear of consequences for him and his family by mainland China. Mark Simon interview. SCMP Interview.
Then, on September 25th the Chinese media leaked documents outlining an almost complete bill of particulars regarding Joshua Wong’s contacts with the U.S. Consulate. More details. Further information on Jimmy Lai and Joshua Wong. As an aside, Joshua’s father, Roger Wong Wai-ming, is scarily similar in his public statements to that of a staunch Tea Party Republican as covered today in the SCMP regarding the Equality Watchdog Consultation criticism he expressed.
Next, on September 29th Washington declares its support for the democracy protests in HK. Details. While a week later the New York Sun considered Joshua Wong to be fit for a Nobel Peace Price. Followed by extensive coverage of Joshua in some of the most prominent magazines of the US as can be read here and here and he even made the cover of Time Magazine.
As the umbrella movement went into full bloom, pages and passages from the US State Department NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and its subsidiary NDI (National Democratic Institute) were, however frivolously, quoted across mainland media. Summary of NDI statements regarding Hong Kong
Other pages of interest from the NED and NDI can be found here, here and here.
On the 1st of October, known anti-US and pro-China investigatory journalist Tony Cartalucci released a slew of links showing NED and NDI meddling of Hong Kong affairs which you can read here.
Moving forward to the 9th of October, another leak, this time of an audio recording purportedly hacked from Jimmy Lai’s computer. Jimmy or his representatives have not challenged the authenticity of the audio recording of his discussions in October 2013 with Taiwan democracy icon Shih Ming-teh, sometimes referred to as “Taiwan’s Mandela”. You can read an English overview here or for a full transcript (in Chinese) you can go here.
Later in October a huge dump of documents were released across various Chinese media. Though the Alliance for True Democracy (AFTD) declined to comment on the authenticity of any of the documents on the 23rd of October, the various documents released purports to provide a window to the pro-democrats strategizing through the meeting minutes of theAFTD, a grouping of pro-democratic organizations engaged in Occupy-related issues. Though it is quite some interesting reading, no real smoking gun is revealed here. However, one interesting comment by commenter “YYY” was:
“He had reported to his superiors during his last trip past to the United States about the current state of affairs in Hong Kong and the development of the work I am advancing in Hong Kong. Washington wishes to continue to promote civic and social forces in Hong Kong so that a movement in for democratic demands can be achieved, especially in order to promote the vanguard role of the younger generation in social movements. Currently the struggle of various forces with the critical point, it would be very easy for things to blow up… The United States will protect the student leaders, including provisions for them to go abroad to study and reside.”
Another intriguing comment made on a September 5th meeting by commenter “XXX” was this one:
“The bigger picture in all of this in the last few weeks has become very clear that activists in Hong Kong on the political front are aiming too low. They should not be trying to fix the Hong Kong system without trying to fix the mainland political system. And since the mainland government believes that Hong Kong is a potential hotbed for subverting the one-party state, why don’t you make it so? Why don’t you actually tackle the problem. Because democracy is on the verge of coming to the mainland…and will bring down the government. The longer we’re talking about Hong Kong problems and not about the master problem, we’re not going to fix the subsidiary problem and we need to refocus on that—not just you, of course, but the whole pan-democratic movement has stalled out trying to get things done locally and needs to reposition itself as the base for subverting the one party system in China…”
For a somewhat cheeky commentary on these leaked documents in English, you can read further here.
To view some of the original documents in Chinese you can go here. Or if you want to download the purported meeting minutes you can go to the Twitter feed of旺角脑场起底组 @mkccwelld for a link to the zipped files.
Coming mid October a massive secret documents dump on the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union and Labour Party honcho Lee Cheuk-yan emerged. The documents reveal that over the past 30 years he has been receiving millions of dollars in “donations” from the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), an affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The leaked confidential communications reveal the HKCTU has received cash “donations” worth HK$13 million from the ACILS in the last two decades. For more details read here and here.
Just two days ago, on the 29th of October, I guess all the prior “leaks” didn’t have the intended impact so another “email reveal” was published by the Ming Pao Daily trying to corner Occupy leader Benny Tai. The emails show that Tai made four donations amounting to HK$1.45 million (US$186,918) to the HKU University between May 2013 and May 2014. Benny originally claimed two of the donations were from unidentified donors but said two months later all of the donations were from Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, who is also a co-founder of Occupy Central. Further reading can be found here.
That pretty much sums up the “evidence” the pro-government crowd and the CCP have managed to come up with. Among that crowd anti-imperialist and anti-US sympathizers cry, “Oh No, Not Again! Another instance of US backed Western regime-change intending to destabilize China!”
The Occupy Hong Kong and Umbrella movements are, as far as I can tell, primarily indigenous. I do also think its organizers and promoters are somewhat backed off from accepting certain kinds of assistance from the West, just as the West is somewhat backed off from provide it.
The pro-democracy crowd has come to snap back with, “Show me the evidence!” Well, above I have attempted to summarize most of the key “exposures” that have been floating around in the anti pro-democracy media. You’re welcome to read through it and make up your own mind.
If you want to know the pro-democracy view, just read the Apple Daily or the SCMP which is still allowed to provide opinions and op-eds both for and against.