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Double standard of West on HK and Xinjiang has been exposed

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-02 14:40
Radical protesters attack police officers with metal rods at an unauthorized assembly in Hong Kong. [Photo/China Daily]

Many Western governments are good at claiming the moral high ground, for example, by calling the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as a mission to spread freedom and democracy, and the killing of innocent civilians as collateral damage.

That is exactly what the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Julian Braithwaite tried to do on Tuesday when he spoke on behalf of 27 countries at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

He criticized China’s policies on the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which exposed the West’s use of double standard to label hollow accusations against China.

Braithwaite expressed “deep and growing” concerns at the national security law for Hong Kong, saying it will compromise human rights, and the freedoms of the press and assembly in the SAR.

He should have exercised more patience and studied the law to understand how it will be implemented instead of jumping to conclusion a day before the law even took effect. But politicians such as Braithwaite know the last thing they will be held accountable for is slandering China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has made it clear in her video speech to the Human Rights Council that the law will not affect Hong Kong’s judicial independence, or the legitimate rights and freedoms of individuals under the Basic Law of the SAR, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of assembly and of demonstration, or undermine “one country, two systems” or Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

The law aims to prevent, curb and punish acts of secession, subversion of State power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign countries or external elements to endanger national security. Which means it will only target those people who breach the law and protect the rights of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents.

Does Braithwaite believe secessionist, subversive and terrorist activities should be protected or ignored?

The world knows how desperately Hong Kong needed a law to plug the national security loopholes in the SAR after the radicals unleashed indiscriminate violence one year ago and have continued since.

They have thrown petrol bombs, set innocent people on fire, vandalized subway stations and public facilities, paralyzed the airport and colluded with external elements, all of which pose a grave threat to the rights of Hong Kong residents.

But instead of condemning the violent mobs, the UK and some other countries have cheered for them.

Their criticism of Hong Kong police brutality exposed their duplicity when they remained silent recently after police in many US states brutally crushed the anti-racism protests and the US leader said: “I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting.”

Braithwaite, who also pointed fingers at China for its Xinjiang reform policy, has never said how he would fight terrorism in the region, which saw thousands of terrorist attacks between 1990 and 2016.

The fact that Xinjiang has not seen even one such attack in the past three years is a great relief for the local people.

We all know how the US responded both at home and abroad after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In Europe, the Belgian and French governments, in response to just one or two terrorist attacks over the past years, have adopted many national security measures.

It’s hard to imagine what their response would be if there were 100 or more such attacks.

The irony that none of the 27 countries Braithwaite represented is a Muslim-majority country is another proof of their hypocrisy on Xinjiang.

Simon Tisdall, a columnist for The Guardian, pointed out last July that “postwar colonial Britain showed scant regard for Hong Kong residents’ rights”.

It’s time Braithwaite woke up to the reality that Hong Kong is now an integral part of China, and no longer under British colonial rule.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels. 

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