Peace Hong Kong Initiative
The Washington Post
U.S. should send signal to China in support of Hong Kong democracy movement
|A protester sleeps on the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex at sunrise. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)|
IT’S HARD not to be inspired by the images of crowds in the center of Hong Kong peacefully demonstrating in favor of democracy, their unlikely symbol not a clenched fist but an open umbrella. But it’s also difficult not to remember the similar mass demonstrations that filled Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 25 years ago and how those ended. The pessimistic consensus in and outside China is that the Communist party leadership of Xi Jinping, which has adopted a hard line against political dissent, is likely to forcibly crush this protest movement if it persists, just as the last one was crushed.
Beijing, however, has not acted yet; police in Hong Kong backed off on Monday and Tuesday after their use of tear gas over the weekend brought more people to the streets. Chinese authorities probably are weighing the risks of allowing the street occupations to continue against those of initiating a crackdown. That makes this a crucial moment for the United States to send a clear message to Mr. Xi: that repression is unacceptable and will damage China’s relations with the democratic world.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response so far has been gallingly timid. White House and State Department spokesmen have carefully avoided offering explicit support for the demonstrators’ demands for free elections for the city’s leader, rather than a managed choice among nominees approved by Beijing. They have urged the demonstrators to be peaceful, though only the police have resorted to violence.
As a supporter of the 1984 agreement under which Hong Kong was transferred from British to Chinese rule, the United States has an obligation to speak up when China violates the spirit of its promise to allow an elected government – as it clearly has. Yet the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong went so far as to declare that “we do not take sides in the discussion of Hong Kong’s political development, nor do we support any particular individuals or groups involved in it.”
Even more concerning is U.S. nonchalance about a possible crackdown. Asked about speculation that Chinese military units stationed in Hong Kong could be used against the protesters, the State Department’s spokesman said Monday that “I have not seen that potential at this point in time. I can check with our team to see if that’s a concern we have.”
State would do well to check with Chinese dissidents such as Yang Jianli, Teng Biao and Hu Jia, who know the regime’s capacity for repression all too well. In an oped published by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the three men pointed out that Chinese officials “have threatened repeatedly that Hong Kong-based units of China’s People’s Liberation Army will use force to suppress peaceful demonstrations,” adding, “this tragic outcome is becoming more likely.”
After the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, President George H.W. Bush and Congress imposed tough sanctions on China, though Mr. Bush soon backed down. Since then China has grown into a major power that is more resistant to outside pressure. The United States cannot protect Hong Kong’s democracy movement if Mr. Xi decides to crush it. But it can and should support its demand for genuine democracy and let China know that the use of force would have consequences for U.S.-Chinese relations.
The White House Responds to Petition for Peaceful Hong Kong
Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China
September 30, 2014 Washington, DC
The “We the People” White House Petition for Peaceful Hong Kong (http://wh.gov/lhJ2E) reached a total of196,923 signatures. The White House has issued an official response to this petition:
The Peaceful Hong Kong petition is a joint initiative launched September 19 by 33 groups worldwide, including organizations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao. It urges the U.S. government to publicly stand against the possibility of Beijing violently cracking down on peaceful demonstrators in Hong Kong. Such resolve from the U.S. government and the international community would send a strong message to theChinese government that any attempt to solve political disagreements with violence would result in severe consequences.
Dr YANG Jianli, the principal power behind the White House petition said, “The joint action from global democratic forces in support of the Hong Kong democracy movement is very inclusive. We have support from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, and in mainland China, including all Chinese minority groups such as Tibetan, Mongolian, Urghur as well as Han. Religious groups in support of the petition include Christian and Falungong, among others. We also have support from many human rights groups in major democracies, as well as those in Vietnam, Myanma, Laos, North Korea, Iran and Cuba . Such a widespread attention has expressed moral support for Hong Kong’s students and residents and contempt for the Beijing authoritarian regime.”
Per “We, the People” petition rules, when signature reaches 100,000, the White House must respond to the petition.
Toronto based Hong Kong Human rights activist Gloria Fung told us, “We have maintained in close contact with the leadership of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. Protest will escalate despite a growing number of police forces being sent from neighboring Guangdong Province, while the Chinese government had manipulated its armed forces near Kong Kong border, amid the growing tension.” She points out, “We must warn the Beijing government that the world is watching Hong Kong.”
Organizers of Peaceful Hong Kong and its working teams have been laboring on action plans for the next phase, including pushing hard to increase the petition’s signatures, requesting major democracies – their legislatures and governments – to express their clear positions against violence used to repress peaceful protests of the Hong Kong people.
Zhang Xiaogang, an Australia based member of the liaison team, has called upon all parties of the world to push to increase the petition’s signature count as a show of civil power. “Only actions produce results,” he said.
Our next step to gain signatures will involve focusing on Hong Kong and other Asian regions. Taiwanese leader for the petition YANG Hisan-Hong expresses the consensus of Chinese living abroad. “Without democracy in China, none of us will have a good life, and by supporting Hong Kong, we support Taiwan itself,” he said. Furthermore, NGOs in Taiwan plan to push its Legislature Yuan for support.
公民力量 (Citizen Power for China/Initiatives fo
港加聯 (Canada-Hong Kong Link)
讓愛與和平佔領中環多倫多支援會 (Occupy Central with Love and Peace Toronto Support Group)
溫哥華支援民主運動聯合會 (Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement)
中國民主教育基金會 (Chinese Democratic Education Foundation)
北京之春 (Beijing Spring)
自由西藏學生運動 (Students for Free Tibet)
南蒙古人權信息中心 (Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center)
维吾尔美国协会 (Uygur American Association)
民主中國陣線 (Federation for a Democratic China)
全球支持中國和亞洲民主化論壇 (Global Support for Democratization in China and Asia)
民主中國聯合陣線 (Alliance for a Democratic China)
中國共和黨 (Chinese Republican Party)
中國社會民主黨 (China Social Democratic Party)
加拿大價值守護者聯盟 (Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Value)
中國民主黨全國聯合總部 (China Democracy Party United Headquarter )
悉尼民主平台 (Sydney Democracy Platform)
中國民主團結聯盟 (Chinese Alliance for
齊氏文化基金會 (The Qi’s Cultural Foundation）
全美學自聯 （Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars)
中國綠黨 (China Green Party)
台灣關懷中國人權聯盟 (Taiwan Association for China Human Rights)
島國前進 (Taiwan March)
台灣勞工陣線協會 (Taiwan Labour Front)
社團法人自由通訊傳播協會 (Association for Free Communication)
台灣青年反共救國團(Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist National Salvation Corps)
台灣維吾爾之友會 (Taiwan friends of Uyghur)
獨臺新社 (Taiwan Independence Reformation)
台灣促進和平基金會 (Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan)
中華國際人權促進會 (Youth for Human Rights of the Republic of China)
Dr. YANG Jianli
(International Community, Oversea Democratic Movements)
Dr. TENG Biao (Chinese Human Rights, International Community)
Mr. HU Jia (Mainland China)
Mr. YANG Sen-hong (Taiwan)
Mr. TO Kwan Hang (Hong Kong)
Ms. Gloria Fung (International Community, Oversea Hong Kong Citizens)
Mr. Henry Chau (Oversea Hong Kong Citizens)
Scott Chiang (Macau)
Mr. Bob Fu (International Community, Christian Churches)
Ms. Theresa Chu (Taiwan)
Mr. Enghebatu Togochog (South Mongolia)
Ms. Zubayra Shamseden (Uyghur)
Ms. Tenzin Dolkar (Tibet)