China/UK word-war on Hong Kong protests | Daily News

China/UK word-war on Hong Kong protests

Protesters clashing with Police in Hong Kong.
Protesters clashing with Police in Hong Kong.

After nearly a month of strong protests, involving millions of Hong Kong citizens, over the proposed law to extradite persons to mainland China, the city has been largely divided after the latest protests last Monday on the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule.

China that remained largely silent on the mounting protests against the Extradition Bill and its promoter Ms. Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the HK Administration, has come out strongly against those who stormed the Legislative Council, causing severe damage to property, and also raising the flag of British Colonial Hong Kong last Monday.

The situation has now moved to a major war of words between UK and China, the former colonial ruler and current overall authority over Hong Kong. UK’s warning China of serious consequences if it breached an agreement guaranteeing freedoms in the city, has led to a major confrontation between China and UK.

In a statement carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency, the Chinese government said it was “shocked, indignant and strongly condemned” the vandalizing of the parliament building. The violence was mainly carried out by a section of youth in the wider demonstrations against the HK authorities, who came prepared to carry out the violence.

The Beijing statement said: “Some extreme elements used excessive violence to storm the legislature building and carried out a series of large-scale assaults. This is shocking, heartbreaking and angering”. “Their violent acts are an extreme challenge to Hong Kong’s rule of law and seriously undermined Hong Kong’s peace and stability. It is totally intolerable.” Protesters could face up to 10 years in prison if prosecuted and convicted for rioting.

“Faded Glory”

Beijing has accused Britain of “basking in the faded glory of British colonialism” and reminded the former colonial power of Hong Kong's current status. The main UK criticism came from Foreign Secretary and current candidate for the Conservative party leadership, Jeremy Hunt, who referred to ‘serious consequences’ over the reaction to protests in Hong Kong.

Jeremy Hunt later appeared to back down on his comments, stating “Let me be clear what I said. I said that I condemned, and we as the United Kingdom condemn all violence and that people who supported the pro-democracy demonstrators would have been very dismayed by the scenes they saw.”

The UK minister's later comments came after an unusually blunt rebuff from China, and its ambassador in London. Referring to Hunt's intervention earlier in the week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Hunt: “seems to be fantasizing in the faded glory of British colonialism and in the bad habit of gesticulating while looking down on other countries’ affairs,” adding: “I need to re-emphasize that Hong Kong has now returned to its motherland.”

Many analysts saw two narratives emerging after the ransacking of the legislature: one that spoke of hopelessness in the face of semi-authoritarian rule, and another that condemned the destruction of property.

Pro-democracy figures in HK placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of leader Carrie Lam, saying a government that only listens to a pro-Beijing party had driven young people to desperation.

But pro-establishment figures focused on condemning the violence done to property and lamenting a loss of law and order. It is learnt that many Hong Kong nationals who supported the earlier protests remained critical of the attack of the Legislative Council, and were worried this could lead to further violence and wider confrontations with Beijing and the Chinese authorities.

The new turn of violence in the Hong Kong protests, give warnings of new confrontations between Beijing authorities and the people of Hong Kong, and wider disagreements and the UK and western democracies over the situation in Hong Kong.

Trump’s ‘Salute to America’

President Donald Trump has moved away from the traditional nonpartisan celebrations of the US National Day on July 4, with a special ‘Salute to America’ that saw a completely partisan, pro-Trump exercise that brought partisan politics and the coming Presidential Election campaign to the traditional Washington celebrations.

It is reported that Donald Trump was interested is having such a celebration with a show of military might, since he was an invitee to France’s Bastille Day parade in July 2017.

The wholly political agenda included Trump’s speech, the traditional fireworks display which draws thousands of viewers, followed by military flyovers, and also the presence of Military Tanks at the site. The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines were required to stand next to Trump as the aircraft for their respective branches fly over the Mall.

The unusual presence of Military Tanks at this location led the authorities to warn the public not to be worried by their presence, as such displays of military material is not common in the USA. The tanks will not be rolling, but will be on “static display,” which is another way to say parked.

This Trump show is seen as a political rally by those in the Democratic Party. They see Trump making a “political rally” out of a day that should be for celebrating America and what it stands for. July 4th is not about politics in the partisan sense — it’s about democracy, it’s about freedom, it’s about individual liberties, it’s about pursuit of happiness, was the view of Democratic critics.

While Presidents typically stay away from July 4 celebrations, Trump was preceded in 1970 by Richard Nixon who held an “Honor America Day,” which was besieged by Vietnam War protesters, some of whom held a marijuana smoke-in.

Donald Trump has taken many measures to prevent protests at the special event. Officials announced a VIP section in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with tickets to access the area to be distributed by the White House, ensuring that protesters won’t be able to pack the area in front of Trump’s podium. The Republican National Committee is handing out tickets to major donors too.

Political analysts observe that Trump’s Salute to America is an icky nod to the authoritarian leaders he so openly adores, suggesting he wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea. There are also questions about the legality of this event.

But Trumps ‘Salute to America’ will remain a lasting display of President Donald Trump’s politics in the presidency, and his play of the National Day for his coming election campaign.

Rahul Gandhi exit

The resignation of Rahul Gandhi from the leadership of the Congress Party of India points to a major change in Indian politics in the months ahead.

Mr. Gandhi has taken responsibility for the Congress Party’s defeat in the recent general election. His move brought to an end much speculation since the recent election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi won with a huge majority. Rahul Gandhi had announced his intention to resign, soon after the election defeat, but party leaders had hoped he would change his mind.

The Congress and many other Opposition forces too, are also faced with a major issue of leadership to face the strong challenge from Narendra Modi and the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP).

The leadership of the Gandhi family (no relationship with Mahatma Gandhi) goes back to the struggles for freedom and the winning of independence from the British in 1947. Mr. Gandhi's father, grandmother and great grandfather were all former prime ministers. The line began with Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, later succeeded by his daughter Indira Gandhi who was assassinated, then followed by her son Rajiv Gandhi, who was also assassinated. The last Congress government was led at the election by Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, who did not become prime minister but chose Manmohan Singh for the office.

The storming victory by Narendra Modi and the BJP in the recent general election has posed many questions to Indian politics, which has to look at new trends in leadership and new policies in governance. The country is moving to increasing trends in the political dominance of Hinduism, and the political dangers faced by the minority and low caste communities.

Rajiv Gandhi’s defeat in politics and leadership is quite clear with his party winning only 44 seats in the 2014 general election, and in the polls this year going up to 52 seats in the 543 seat House, in a politically humiliating performance. He also lost his own seat in his family constituency of Amethi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, though he remains a MP because he won a second seat in the southern state of Kerala. His exit from the Congress leadership raises questions about the ability of the party to remain a national party, or the possibility of the Congress to come out of the ‘Gandhi family’ and rise as a party with independent political leadership. It is a major question for Indian national politics.

EU leadership

The European Union has identified two women to the key positions of the EU, with the choice for the presidency of the European Commission being German Angela Merkel’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of the European Central Bank will be France’s Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund.

Many critics see this as an old-fashioned Franco-German compromise that broke a deadlock on top EU jobs. The newly elected European Parliament President David Sassoli is a former television journalist who turned to politics 10 years ago as a centre-left MEP.

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