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Author slams West's 'colonial' mindset

By AZAM KHAN in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-04 07:26

British academic and author Martin Jacques. Photo provided to China Daily

The reaction of Western countries led by the United Kingdom and the United States against China's enactment of its National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region is riddled with hypocrisy and stems from blatant disrespect for China's sovereignty, said British academic and author Martin Jacques.

He said Western nations are resisting China's exercising its sovereign rights in Hong Kong because they still regard Hong Kong to be partly theirs and certainly not wholly China's. He called it an affliction and psychological condition of old imperial powers such as Britain, which can't let go of their "golden era" and still think, in Hong Kong's case, that it is still theirs or partly theirs.

So criticism over the security law in Hong Kong comes down to fundamental disagreements about Chinese sovereignty over the city, he told China Daily on Thursday.

He said Britain's attitude can be seen with regard to its former African colonies, which are seen through the prism of colonial rule and colonial responsibility.

Jacques, a former senior fellow at Cambridge University, talked about what is called the "Five Eyes" security alliance of the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. These countries share a kinship, speak the same language and shared a "white settler colonist" history.

He called the security pact "a celebration of colonial legacy" in some ways. It is not only political, but also represents an ethnic-racial, white-centric world view, he said. The West thinks it represents the norms and values of the modern world, and China is in breach of that view, Jacques said. Those nations resort to a narrative with an underlying malicious tone questioning China's "legitimacy", he said.

This, by extension, drives the collective slanders by Western media toward China, particularly when China exercises its sovereign rights with regards to Hong Kong, according to Jacques.

Western countries that condemn China's sovereign rights have a number of national security laws of their own, some of which are more strict toward subversion and threats to the state, he said.

Jacques, author of When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, questioned how these countries could insist that there's no need for security legislation in Hong Kong after the widespread unrest in the city since June 2019.

"The argument against national security legislation in Hong Kong is quite ridiculous. How can you go through all those riots and destruction of property in 2019 without realizing that Hong Kong needed proper national security legislation?" he said.

Jacques criticized what he called the hypocrisy of the West. He said there was virtually no criticism from Western media of violence by the rioters. Instead, he said, they were treated as "heroes".

It was an utterly irresponsible reaction, considering the West would never allow such destruction and breakdown of the rule of law to happen in their own cities, he said.

Jacques said that after 23 years, it was high time for the Chinese government to introduce national security legislation for the city. He said 23 years was a long time to wait, especially since no major country would tolerate a situation where it had no security legislation.

Britain's path-to-citizenship offer for Hong Kong residents who are British National (Overseas) passport holders was purely political grandstanding on the UK's part, according to Jacques.

As for moves by the US to pass the Hong Kong Autonomy Act with sanctions, and the revocation of Hong Kong's privileged trade status, Jacques does not see this as a critical blow to the SAR.

China has already become the center of innovation, said Jacques, who also called China's development momentous and crucial to the global economy.

China may have broken Hong Kong free from colonial rule back in 1997, but Jacques said the West still has yet to break free from a colonial mindset.

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