Before adjourning for the Thanksgiving holiday, the US Senate unanimously approved HR 3289, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (417-1) to send the legislation to President Trump for his signature and in a rare bipartisan move, the bill was signed into law. The term “bipartisan” is a mere farce as both major political parties always seem to agree on funding and agitating wars.
Trump signed the bill into law, along with another bill that prohibits the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd-control munitions to the Hong Kong police. When we think about how this country handles its own protestors, from Ferguson to Baltimore to Standing Rock (many still imprisoned), and the inability for U.S congress to end the 1033 program, it is both laughable and insulting to see the “unity” in support of this bill. This bipartisan decision highlights many contradictions— The U.S. continues to out itself as a dangerous right-wing state and a threat to the world.
We are witnessing global uprisings against state powers that, as colonized people within the U.S, we can (and are) finding inspiration in. Many confused “radicals”, however, have passionately jumped on the bandwagon of international protests offering uncritical support. All uprisings are not the same and the best way to distinguish that is understanding the class character of the uprisings.
For months the public has been bombarded with images from protests in Hong Kong against the PRC/China. Unfortunately, many have supported the Hong Kong protests void of analyzing the implications of what is being protested, what the protestors are asking for or even why mainstream media covers it so thoroughly while blatantly ignoring Haiti, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, and most recently the coup d’etat in Bolivia.
While there are mixed and valid concerns that shouldn’t be minimized in the midst of the mass protests in Hong Kong, the overall character of the protests is right-wing. How do we know? Let’s consider the ultra-nationalist elements that are a fixture of the protests.
Hong Kong’s current political crisis was sparked by protests against an extradition bill meant to ensure Chan Tong-kai’s prosecution on murder charges for killing his girlfriend in Taiwan. This erupted in sovereignty claims and mass protests across Hong Kong complete with nostalgia for British colonialism, waving the U.S flag with praises and odes to Trump.
The movements to ‘recognize Hong Kong autonomy/independence’ had leaders of the allegedly “leaderless movement” touring Washington, D.C., while claiming to be repressed, with the likes of Senator Ted Cruz, urging the US Congress to pass the Human Rights bill and impose sanctions on their own state.
US support of Hong Kong is significant. We have witnessed Hong Kong protestors engaging in activities that in the U.S. would get them killed by the police or long prison sentences. Furthermore, the U.S. Congress’ unanimous decision to support the Hong Kong Human Rights Act serves as another example of the hypocrisy from a country universally recognized as the greatest human rights violators on the planet.
The one dimensional narrative around Hong Kong is helping to push antagonistic PRC/China-US relations even further. Not to mention this is occurring as Trump promises a surge of militarized police across the country in addition to Congress, mainstream media and supporters of Hong Kong protests turning a blind eye to Black and indigenous people of the Global South uprising against neoliberal fascist leadership. They are fighting for their lives which is in stark contrast to the material reality of the police reaction to Hong Kong protestors. Where are the Human Rights for them?
Instead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised, in a speech delivered at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, U.S support of fascist neoliberal leadership in these nations to continue a hybrid war against Cuba and Venezuela. Trump administration and the right-wing Latin American governments most closely aligned with US imperialist policy are alleging Cuban and Venezuelan leadership are causing uprisings in that region. Pompeo’s speech, focusing on the uprisings occurring over the majority of the year, was an incoherent distortion of the truth and downright right-wing propaganda, utterly falsifying the character of the protests where protestors are burning U.S. flags and explicitly telling the U.S government and military to get out and stay away. There can be no mistake that the Trump administration is continuing a policy of imperialist domination and aggression in that region.
Again, while there may, in fact, be valid reasons for some in Hong Kong to protest, as revolutionary socialists, we must establish the character of the protests critically. As we watch state after state write and pass anti-protest legislation or see Indigenous and Afro- Bolivians protestors get slaughtered in the street or even read about Haitian protestors being shot by their state officials, the overwhelming U.S support of the Hong Kong protests in contrast to that isn’t the only thing that should give us pause.
Over a week ago, leaders of Azoz Battalion and Right sector, far-right Ukranian groups that rose to prominence during the 2014 coup d’etat (that the U.S has conveniently not recognized as a coup), recently traveled to Hong Kong to participate in the anti-Beijing protests. What do two ultra-nationalists groups have in common with the Hong Kong protests?
The Azoz Battalion group has been outed as a paramilitary national socialist group which “propagated slogans of white supremacy, racial purity, the need for authoritarian power and centralized national economy.” The Right Sector has also been outed as having high-ranking officials in the Kiev-based government and is an openly neo-Nazi militia. Aside from publicly stating they “see [themselves] in the Hong Kong protests”, just like the Ukranian coup in 2014, the Hong Kong protests are receiving full support from CIA based National Endowment for Democracy.
The Charlottesville connection to neo-nazis in Ukraine, which is being ignored for the sake of this charade, better known as the current impeachment process, is also significant in how we view the Hong Kong protests. How U.S based right-wing neo-nazis get handled by the state versus those of us the state has deemed “Black Identity Extremists” for fighting back mirrors how the US acts towards global colonized resistance. In the case of Hong Kong, when that resistance serves the state, they are all the more likely to get support.
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