FOR many mainland Chinese, Hong Kong has been the synonym of openness and prosperity, a shining Pearl of the Orient by the side of Xiang River. Shortly after the opening of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, I was invited by the S.A.R. (Special Administrative Region) government for a brief visit, and was deeply impressed by the openness, inclusiveness, and social order of this international finance hub.
However, because of a series of demonstrations and violent incidents, the Pearl of the Orient is now stained with dust, and I sigh for its light waning.
Months ago, the S.A.R. government had pushed the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Amendment Bill, trying to fill a legislative loophole by allowing Hong Kong to cooperate on a case-by-case basis with China mainland, Taiwan and other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no formal extradition treaty.
This necessary and reasonable legislative measure, however, was intentionally politicized by some, and thereafter leads to large-scale demonstrations under the banner of “No Extradition to China”. Even after the withdrawal of the above-mentioned Amendment Bill by the S.A.R. government in June, instead of ceasing the demonstration, some protestors went to the length of total violence, laying bare their true intention: destabilizing Hong Kong and pursuing so-called “Hong Kong independence”.
These organized, intentional violent acts have already far breached the boundary of freedom of speech and demonstration, deviated from the value of democracy, and punched through the bottom line of a civilized society.
We are extremely distressed for the negative impacts of the violent protests on Hong Kong’s economy and its citizens’ livelihood. The large-scale strike and riot have almost paralyzed urban transportation and the airport. During the strike day, more than 200 flights were cancelled in Hong Kong International Airport. Several mass transit railway lines were out of service.
Moreover, Hong Kong's catering and retail sector were bracing for a double-digit percentile decline in June. The Consumer Confident Index also dropped to a 5-year low. Eleven countries have issued Hong Kong travel warning. Recently some protestors even called for a bank run.
Stability is the requisition of a sound business environment in Hong Kong as an international finance hub and tourism city. The massive “damage bill” brought by the chaos will eventually be paid by all Hong Kong citizens. It is to the benefit of no one if the current unrest continues.
We are extremely indignant about the Hong Kong reactionaries colluding with foreign masterminds.
They disregarded the facts, confused right and wrong, prettified the violent crimes as struggles for human rights and freedoms, misrepresented polices’ legal actions as violent repression, and they instigated the confrontation between Hong Kong citizens and central and S.A.R. government.
They are fighting not for democracy and freedom, not for justice and fairness. They fight to breakdown the S.A.R. government, to grasp power over the city, and to contain China’s development. Furthermore, with those “familiar faces” in the crowd, foreign flags waving on the street, and high-level consular official meeting with separatists… we have more and more evidence to confirm the disgraceful involvement of certain foreign forces in Hong Kong.
Since the return of Hong Kong to its motherland 22 years ago, the central government has faithfully implemented the principles of "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong", and ensured a high degree of autonomy in the S.A.R. Hong Kong ranks high in terms of its rule of law performance, and its people have stood up as their own masters with unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms in accordance with law.
We firmly support Chief Executive Carrie Lam leading the S.A.R. government in the law-based governance, supports the Hong Kong police in their strict law enforcement. The Chinese government will never allow any foreign forces to have a hand in Hong Kong affairs, neither will it allow them to mess up Hong Kong. Of course, we will never allow the nasty plot of “colour revolution” to succeed in China territory.
Hong Kong is a part of China, and the Hong Kong issue is China’s internal affair. Currently, there are indeed some deep-rooted issues troubling Hong Kong: land, housing, upward social mobility, for example. These issues all have multiple reasons, including outstanding historical issues left by British colonists and complicated social causes.
However, these issues can only be solved through the development and prosperity of both Hong Kong and China mainland. The overwhelming opinion right now is that Hong Kong shall not continue to fall like this. More and more Hong Kong citizens have stepped up and said no to violence.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative are providing Hong Kong with broader space and more opportunities of development. The priority of Hong Kong citizens is to avoid being fixed on the political disputes and go all out for development, building and safeguarding their home.
I believe that Hong Kong, weathering the storm, will remain united, stable and aspirant, and will continue its century-long glories. The Pearl of the Orient will shine again.
The writer is China Ambassador to Malaysia