Musings on the Strange Pro-China Left

Michael Turton March 3, 2015 9:19am

SCMP reports on a PRC general who threatened Taiwan while kvetching about Hong Kong.

Sun had been discussing the important role of competition in Sino-US ties and maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China seas, when he touched on the risk China faced in terms of subversion campaigns by foreign states.

“Hostile forces have always attempted to make Hong Kong the bridgehead for subverting and infiltrating mainland China,” Sun said. “The illegal Occupy Central activities in 2014 came as minority radical groups in Hong Kong, under the instigation and support of external forces … orchestrated a Hong Kong version of a colour revolution.”

He said the central government had shown firm support for the Hong Kong government in dealing with the protests, and that Beijing’s defence of “one country, two systems” should also serve as a warning to Taiwan’s pro-independence forces.

It is an article of Chinese propaganda that the Hong Kong protests were controlled by foreign forces (read: the US). This has been picked up by weirdo pro-China left as an article of faith. Indeed, there’s a fellow on Facebook whom I religiously follow because he reliably forwards the pro-China propaganda line, which helps me separate out the propaganda from the reality.

David Lindorff, a progressive writer with experience in East Asia, has addressed this in an excellent piece at Counterpunch last year.

A number of progressive and left-leaning writers in the US have jumped on a report by Wikileaks that the neo-con dominated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and various other US-government linked organizations with a history of subversion and sowing discord abroad are operating in Hong Kong and on that basis are making the leap of “logic” that the democracy protests in Hong Kong must therefore be a creation of US policy-makers.

As a progressive, Chinese-fluent journalist who has spent years working in China and especially Hong Kong, and who has spent decades exposing the secret workings of US agencies and their network of fake NGOs in support of US empire, as well as their anti-democratic activities here in the US, I can understand why people might be suspicious, but I want to explain that Hong Kong is not Ukraine, or even Venezuela or Brazil.Hong Kong is not Ukraine, or even Venezuela or Brazil.

To suggest, for example, that long-tested leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement like Martin Lee Chu Ming, Emily Lau, or labor and democracy activist Lee Cheuk Yan, are “in bed with” the NED because they might have attended some NED event or that 17-year-old student protest leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung is working for the US because he and his father allegedly once visited the US Consulate in Hong Kong, is both nonsense, and the height of imperial-minded arrogance. Lee, Lau and Lee are virtually the MLK, Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez of the Hong Kong freedom struggle and worked at great personal sacrifice to win more freedom and local control from the British long before China was in charge of the territory! And Wong, despite his tender years, clearly has courage and a mind of his own. Visiting the US Consulate is a commonplace event in Hong Kong, and that action signifies nothing. (By the way, what are the odds the NED or CIA would opt to go with a 17-year-old kid to organize this massive protest? Seriously? That’s about as likely as that the International Muslim Conspiracy to Create a Sharia Law America would have selected a young Kenyan-born black child as their vehicle to become their Manchurian-candidate president and then subvert the US. The truth is this kid, who won his organizing spurs at 14 opposing a politically-guided Hong Kong history curriculum, has won his current surprising position of influence through conviction, intellect, guts and charisma.)

If/when China occupies Taiwan, China’s propaganda line will be that any anti-China protests are organized by the US. If you spend time among the fifty-centers in online forums, you can already hear that Taiwan independence is a US plot, a rather comic complaint considering the long history of US opposition to Taiwan independence.

Resistance in Hong Kong to China’s suppression of local identities and substitution of its constructed “Chineseness” takes many forms. The same thing is happening in Taiwan (see the recent flap over KMT propaganda history in the textbooks), but because the faux “Chinese” identity is offered in a democracy, resistance is formalized and more powerful. We must not forget that inside China, where outsiders do not see very well, these same processes of obliteration of local identities are going on — they are occasionally reported on in the foreign media as articles on how China is bringing Mandarin to everywhere in China, where the reporter is either unable or not permitted to see/report on what is going on. What’s actually happening is that it is crushing local ethnic groups, which we outsiders have trouble seeing as ethnic groups because the rubric of Chineseness is so deliberately protean and obscuring, meant to hide these colonial processes. Beijing operates an empire that is desperately struggling to become a state, and part of that process is the elimination of local identities.Beijing operates an empire that is desperately struggling to become a state, and part of that process is the elimination of local identities. Hence Hong Kong…

Note that the general in the SCMP piece again refers to 1C2S. That line exists for domestic consumption only, to raise resentment among the Chinese against Hong Kong and someday, Taiwan. “Look how well we are treating them (better than we treat you).” Since Chinese do not hate Taiwan, resentment is the next best approach to getting them to acquiesce to an invasion of Taiwan. The “two systems” doesn’t mean anything more than the “autonomous” in Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The Left’s obverse of the pro-China left is the anti-Japanese militarism left, which is almost completely delusional. For example, John Feffer at FPIF just produced a wonderfully droll piece entitled Is Japan’s Prime Minister the Next Putin? Yes, China is building fake islands in the South China Sea (what could be more Putin than that?), stealing islands from the Philippines, creating illegal ADIZs over Japanese territory, and threatening to murder Taiwanese wholesale and plunge the region into war. But respond to that? You’re Putin!

The complaints about the treatment of Okinawa are totally on point, as are the complaints about the burgeoning security apparatus in Japan. I would be more accepting of them, however, if there were complaints about China’s similar trashing of Xinjiang with military bases, and similar complaints about China’s far more pervasive security apparatus. But the Left is a desert on China…

Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.