Tracking foreign interference in Hong Kong

Tracking foreign interference in Hong Kong

October 08, 2019

By Pepe Escobar : Hong Kong – Posted with permission

Lawyer Lawrence Ma claims the US has been supporting the protests via groups such as the NED

More than a million Hong Kongers joined marches in June to oppose a China extradition law. But some say the US is quickly backing the protests. Photo: Don Ng/ EyePress

Lawrence YK Ma is the executive council chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation and director of the China Law Society, the Chinese Judicial Studies Association and the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation. He also finds time to teach law at Nankai University in Tianjin.

Ma is the go-to expert in what is arguably the most sensitive subject in Hong Kong: He meticulously tracks perceived foreign interference in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

In the West, in similar circumstances, he would be a media star. With a smirk, he told me that local journalists, whether working in English or Chinese, rarely visit him – not to mention foreigners.

Ma received me at his office in Wanchai this past Saturday morning after a “dark day” of rampage, as described by the SAR government. He wasted no time before calling my attention to a petition requesting a “United Nations investigation into the United States’ involvement in Hong Kong riots.”

He let me see a copy of the document, which lists the People’s Republic of China as petitioner, the United States of America as respondent nation and the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation as ex parte petitioner. This was submitted on Aug. 16 to the UN Security Council in Geneva, directed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In the document, Issue II deals with “funded, sponsored and provided supplies to any organizations, groups, companies, political parties or individuals” and “trained and frontline protesters, students and dissidents.”

Predictably, the US National Endowment for Democracy is listed in the documentation: its largest 2018 grants were directed to China, slightly ahead of Russia.

The NED was founded in 1983 after serial covert CIA ops across the Global South had been exposed.

In 1986, NED President Carl Gershman told the New York Times: “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued.” As the Times article explained about the NED:

In some respects, the program resembles the aid given by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s to bolster pro-American political groups. But that aid was clandestine and, subsequent Congressional investigations found, often used planted newspaper articles and other forms of intentionally misleading information. The current financing is largely public – despite some recipients’ wish to keep some activities secret – and appears to be given with the objective of shoring up political pluralism, broader than the CIA’s goals of fostering pro-Americanism.

Soft power at work

So it’s no secret, all across the Global South, that under the cover of a benign umbrella promoting democracy and human rights, the NED works as a soft-power mechanism actively interfering in politics and society. Recent examples include Ukraine, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In many cases, that is conducive to regime change.

The NED’s board of directors includes Elliott Abrams, who was instrumental in financing and weaponizing the Contras in Nicaragua, and Victoria Nuland, who supervised the financing and weaponizing of militias in Ukraine that some but not all experts have described as neo-fascist.

The NED offers grants via various branches. One of them is the National Democratic Institute, which has been active in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover. These are some of the grants offered by the NED in Hong Kong in 2018.

At least one Hong Kong-based publication took the trouble of studying the NED’s local connections, even publishing a chart of the anti-extradition protest organizational structure. But none of the evidence is conclusive. The most the publication could say was, “If we analyze the historical involvement of NED in Occupy Central and the sequence of events that took place from March in 2019, it is highly possible that the Americans may be potentially involved in the current civil unrest via NED – albeit not conclusive.”

Issue III of the petition sent to the UN deals with “coordinated, directed and covertly commanded on-ground operations; connived with favorable and compatible local and American media so as to present biased new coverage.”

On “coordination,” the main political operative is identified as Julie Eadeh, based at the US Consulate after a previous Middle East stint. Eadeh became a viral sensation in China when she was caught on camera, on the same day, meeting with Anson Chan and Martin Lee, close allies of Jimmy  Lai, founder of pro-protest Apple Daily, and protest leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law in the lobby of the Marriott.

The US State Department responded by calling the Chinese government “thuggish” for releasing photographs and personal information about Eadeh.

The NED and Eadeh are also the subjects of further accusations in the petition’s Issue IV (“Investigation of various institutions”).

All in the Basic Law

Ma is the author of an exhaustive, extensively annotated book, Hong Kong Basic Law: Principles and Controversies, published by the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation.

Maria Tam, a member both of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee and of China’s National People’s Congress, praises the book’s analysis of the ultra-sensitive interpretation of the Basic Law, saying “the common law system has remained unaffected, its judicial independence remaining the best in Asia”, with Hong Kong firmly placed – so far at least – as “the third most preferred avenue for international arbitration.”

In the book, Ma extensively analyzes the finer points of the China containment policy. But he also adds culture to the mix, for instance examining the work of Liang Shuming (1893-1988) on the philosophical compatibility of traditional Chinese Confucianism with the technology of the West. Liang argued that China’s choice, in stark terms, was between wholesale Westernization or complete rejection of the West.

But Ma really hits a nerve when he examines Hong Kong’s unique role – and positioning – as a vector of the China containment policy, facilitated by a prevailing anti-communist sentiment and the absence of a national security law.

This is something that cannot be understood without examining the successive waves of emigration to Hong Kong. The first took place during the Communist-Nationalist civil war (1927-1950) and the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945); the second, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1977).

Ma significantly quotes a 1982 poll claiming that 95% of respondents were in favor of maintaining British rule. Everyone who followed the 1997 Hong Kong handover remembers the widespread fear of Chinese tanks rolling into Kowloon at midnight.

In sum, Ma argues that, for Washington, what matters is to “make China’s island of Hong Kong as difficult to govern for Beijing as possible.”

Integrate or perish

Anyone who takes time to carefully study the complexities of the Basic Law can see how Hong Kong is an indivisible part of China. Hundreds of millions of Mainland Chinese now have seen what the black bloc brand of “democracy” – vandalizing public and private property – has done to ruin Hong Kong.

Arguably, in the long run, and after an inevitable cleanup operation, the whole drama may only strengthen Hong Kong’s integration with China. Add to it that China, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan have separately asked Hong Kong authorities for a detailed list of black bloc rioters.

In my conversations these past few days with informed Hong Kongers – mature businessmen and businesswomen who understand the Basic Law and relations with China – two themes have been recurrent.

One is the weakness of Carrie Lam’s government, with suggestions that the outside non-well-wishers knew her understaffed and overstretched police force would not be up to the task of maintaining security across town. At the same time, many remarked how the response from Washington and London to the Emergency Regulations approval of the anti-mask law was – surprisingly – restrained.

The other theme is decolonization. My interlocutors argued that China did not “control” Hong Kong; if it did, riots would never have happened. Add to it that Lam may have been instructed to do nothing, lest she would mess up an incandescent situation even more.

Now it’s a completely new ball game. Beijing, even discreetly, will insist on a purge of anyone in the civil service who would be identified as anti-China. If Lam just continues to insist on her beloved “dialogue,” she may be replaced by a hands-on CEO such as CY Leung or Regina Ip.

Amid so much gloom, there may be a silver lining. And that concerns the Greater Bay Area project. My interlocutors tend to believe that after the storm ends and after carefully studying the situation for some months, Beijing will soon come up with a new plan to tighten Hong Kong’s integration to the mainland’s economy even more.

The first step was to tell Hong Kong’s tycoons to get their act together and be more socially responsible. The second will be to convince Hong Kong’s businesses to reinvent themselves for good and profit as part of the Greater Bay Area and the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative.

Hong Kong will thrive only if plugged, not unplugged. That may be the ultimate – profitable – argument against any form of foreign sabotage.

 

Julian Assange – ‘Find Justice and Make It Quick’

By Alison Broinowski

Source

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With the US on the warpath and Australia sending military, air, and naval support for American activities in the Gulf, three Australian and British nationals are being made an example of in Iran, where they are in solitary confinement on charges of espionage. British politicians have been quick to accuse Iran of ‘hostage diplomacy’, saying the allegations against the academic and two tourists are ‘clearly false’. Australia, which still has an Embassy in Tehran, is making representations on their behalf. But Iran’s response is unlikely to be magnanimous or quick.

In Bulgaria meanwhile, another Australian, sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder in a street brawl, had served 11 years when an appeals court ordered him freed in late September. Australia’s foreign ministry is, of course, assisting Jock Palfreyman, now 32, and supporting his prominent Sydney family. Bulgaria’s Interior Minister commented, ‘When there is deprivation of life, then there is no complete justice…The logic of the law is to find justice and make it quick.’ (SMH, AP, 26 September 2019).

As usual, British and Australian treatment of three alleged spies and an accused murderer is in glaring contrast with Julian Assange’s case. Dragged by British police out of the Embassy of Ecuador, where he had diplomatic asylum, he was quickly jailed in May for 50 weeks. A judge with Tory connections, Lady Arbuthnot, took the opportunity to offer the claim that nobody in the UK is above the law. But justice delayed is justice denied, as the Bulgarian minister observed.

In June, the UK Home Secretary signed an order allowing Assange to be extradited to the US on charges of espionage after a final hearing in London next February. That in itself appears to prejudge the outcome. But the UK, which supposedly doesn’t allow extradition to nations with the death penalty, may prefer Assange to be extradited to Sweden rather than the US, and thereby wash its hands of his extradition. Sweden has a documented record of rendition of detainees to the US.

British officials have been pressing Sweden to reopen its 2010 rape case against Assange, and actually to charge him with something for the first time in the eight years of this slow-moving farce. But Sweden ended its investigation of Assange in May 2017, after he had repeatedly offered to be interviewed, and eventually was, in London. The Swedes clearly don’t want to revisit all that.

In Belmarsh high-security prison, which houses murderers and worse, Assange was seen by Nils Melzer, the UN Rapporteur on Torture, who reported to the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador on his dire state of health. Australian journalist John Pilger has confirmed Melzer’s view, and so does Assange’s father, John Shipton. But if Australian ministers have sought to intervene on Assange’s behalf, or if consular officials have checked on his welfare, they haven’t said so. The Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, was in London in the summer but has said – and apparently done – nothing. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who was recently in Washington, missed the opportunity, as far as we know, to mention the inmate of Belmarsh Prison and his prospects. Supposition is all we have, as the Australian media don’t even ask.

Assange appeared before the Westminster magistrate’s court by video from the prison on 13 September. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that although the custody period for his bail offence would end on 22 September, she would not release him for the balance of his 50-week sentence, saying he was likely to ‘abscond again’. His lawyers apparently didn’t challenge her decision. When she surprisingly said he was ‘charged by Sweden’ she was corrected by Assange, but his intervention did not appear in the court transcript.

Pilger has compared Britain’s treatment of Assange to the way dictatorships deal with political prisoners, which is what he is. A sound barrier or a time warp seems to have been imposed on Assange in the land of British justice, as it has on two other political prisoners, Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, whose whereabouts since they were poisoned in Salisbury in March 2018 are unknown. The pattern has become repetitive: nothing has been heard lately from the detective superintendent on that case, or from Charlie Rowley, both of whom were reportedly contaminated by whatever affected the Skripals. If Sergei has died, how would we know?

If Assange – like Jeffrey Epstein in the US – should suddenly die in prison while guards on suicide watch are asleep, or hospital attendants are not looking, will what the authorities tell us be credible? No wonder Assange suffers from anxiety and depression. He is confined alone for 22 hours a day and cannot communicate with his US lawyers. He has no computer. He is locked up, nominally for skipping bail for a non-existent charge, but in fact for publishing American cables given to him by a US army officer, Chelsea Manning, in 2010. This, the US prosecutors will claim, was conspiracy and espionage.

Yet when Britain’s Mail on Sunday did the same in July, publishing the British Ambassador’s cabled comments on Donald Trump, no-one cried ‘spy!’ The then Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, defended publication of the cables, saying that it was in the public interest to read them. As journalist Peter Oborne remarked, Assange had published many more documents on matters that it was much more in the public interest to know about. Oborne perceived ‘a monstrous case of double standards’. (Media Lens, 17 September 2019).

Watch while the same double standards are applied to the CIA man who leaked the transcribed phone conversation between Trump and Ukraine’s President Zelensky, and the American papers which published it. The public has an interest in knowing about that leak, including its authenticity, and so do both sides of Congress. If it’s genuine, there’s no difference between it and what Assange did in 2010, so why is he not a ‘whistleblower’?

Permanent Record, Edward Snowden’s recent autobiography, begins with the words ‘I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.’ Assange has always got up the nose of governments because he believes that information they collect at public expense belongs to the people, while private citizens’ data are their own. It is this fundamental principle that threatens the authorities, and makes them react aggressively to him while they lavish concern on other political prisoners. The extent of the aggression of the Anglo-allies will be seen next February when Assange’s extradition to the US is decided. But the longer the time warp persists and Assange remains invisible and inaudible, the greater the danger to him. Justice must be quick.

Iran prevails over the USA, twice, but this is far from over

Iran prevails over the USA, twice, but this is far from over

The Saker

September 26, 2019

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

An Iranian official has announced that the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero was free to leave.  Remember the Stena Impero?  This is the tanker the IRGC arrested after the Empire committed an act of piracy on the high seas and seized the Iranian tanker Grace 1.  Col Cassad posted a good summary of this info-battle, blow by blow (corrected machine translation):

  1. Britain, at the instigation of the US, seizes the Iranian tanker Grace 1 and demands from Iran guarantees that it in any case does not go to Syria.
  2. Iran, in response, captures the British tanker Stena Impero and says it will not retreat until the British releases Grace 1.  British ships that guarded merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz were warned that they would be destroyed if they interfered with the IRGC’s actions.
  3. After 2 months, Britain officially releases Grace 1, which is renamed Adrian Darya 1. It raised the Iranian flag and changed the crew.
  4. The British government says the tanker is released under Iran’s obligations not to unload the tanker at the Syrian port of Banias or anywhere else in Syria. Iran denies this.
  5. The US officially requires Britain and Gibraltar to arrest Adrian Darya 1 and not let him into Syria, as it violates the sanctions regime. Britain and Gibraltar refuse the US.
  6. Adrian Darya 1 reaches the coast of Syria and after a few days on the beam of Banias, unloads its cargo in Syria. The Iranian government says it has not made any commitments to anyone.
  7. After Adrian Darya 1 left Syria, Iran announced that it was ready to release the British tanker. The goal has been achieved.

This is truly an amazing series of steps, really!

The USA is the undisputed maritime hyper-power, not only because of its huge fleet, but because of its network of bases all over the planet (700-1000 depending on how you count) and, possibly even more importantly, a network of so-called “allies”, “friends”, “partners” and “willing coalition members” (aka de facto US colonies) worldwide.  In comparison, Iran is a tiny dwarf, at least in maritime terms.  But, as the US expression goes, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” which decides the outcome.

And then there is the (provisional) outcome of the Houthi strike on the Saudi oil installations.  The Saudis appeared to be pushing for war against Iran, as did Pompeo, but Trump apparently decided otherwise:

Some have focused on the fact that Trump said that it was “easy” to attack Iran.  Others have ridiculed Trump for his silly bragging about how US military gear would operate in spite of the dismal failure of both US cruise missile attacks (on Syria) and the Patriot SAMs (in the KSA).  But all that bragging is simply obligatory verbal flag-waving; this is what the current political culture in the USA demands from all politicians.  But I think that the key part of his comments is when he says that to simply attack would be “easy” (at least for him it would) but that this would not show strength.  I also notice that Trump referred to those who predicted that he would start a war and said that they were wrong about him.  Trump also acknowledged that a lot of people are happy that he does not strike (while others deplored that, of course, beginning with the entire US pseudo-liberal & pseudo-Left media and politicians).  The one exception has been, again, Tulsi Gabbard who posted this after Trump declared that the US was “locked and loaded”:

Whatever may be the case, this time again, Trump seemed to have taken a last minute decision to scrap the attack the Neocons have been dreaming about for decades.

I think that I made my opinion about Trump pretty clear, yet I also have to repeat that all these “climbdowns” by Trump are, just by themselves, a good enough reason to justify a vote for Trump.  Simply put; since Trump came to power we saw a lot of hubris, nonsense, ignorance and stupidity.  But we did NOT see a war, especially not a major one.  I will never be able to prove that, but I strongly believe that if Hillary had won, the Middle-East would have already exploded (most likely after a US attempt at imposing a no-fly zone over Syria).

We are also very lucky that, at least in this case, the rapid every four year Presidential election in the USA contributes to keep Trump (and his Neocon masters) in check: Trump probably figured out that a blockade of Venezuela or, even more so, a strike on Iran would severely compromise his chances of being re-elected, especially since neither theater offers the US any exit strategy.

Still, following these immensely embarrassing defeats, Trump and his advisors had to come up with something “manly” (which they confuse with “macho”) and make some loud statements about sending more forces to the Persian Gulf and beefing up the Saudi air defenses.  This will change nothing.  Iran is already the most over-sanctioned country on the planet and we have seen what US air defense can, and cannot do.  Truth be told, this is all about face-saving and I don’t mind any face-saving inanities as long as they make it possible to avoid a real shooting war.

Still, the closer we get to the next US election, the more Trump should not only carefully filter what he says, he would be well advised to give some clear and strict instructions to his entire Administration about what they can say and what they cannot say.  Of course, in the case of a rabid megalomaniac like Pompeo, no such “talking points” will be enough: Trump needs to fire this psychopath ASAP and appoint a real diplomat as Secretary of State.  After all, Pompeo belongs in the same padded room as Bolton.

Now if we look at the situation from the Iranian point of view, it is most interesting.  First, for context, I recommend the recent articles posted by Iranian analysts on the blog, especially the following ones:

  1. War Gaming the Persian Gulf Conflict” by Black Archer Williams
  2. Karbala, The Path of Most Resistance” by Mansoureh Tadjik
  3. Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again” by Aram Mirzaei

I also recommend my recent interview with Professor Marandi.

I recommend all these Iranian voices because they are so totally absent from the political discussions on the Middle-East, at least in western media.  Williams, Tadjik, Mirzaei and Marandi are very different people, they also have different point of views and focuses of interest, but when you read them you realize how confident and determined Iranians are.  I am in contact with Iranians abroad and in Iran and all of them, with no exception, share that calm determination.  It seems that, just like Russians, Iranians most certainly don’t want war, but they are ready for it.

The Iranian preferred strategy is also clear: just the way Hezbollah keeps Israel in check so will the Houthis with the KSA.  The Houthis, who are now in a very strong negotiation position, have offered to stop striking the KSA if the Saudis do likewise.  Now, the Saudis, just like the Israelis, are too weak to accept any such offer, that is paradoxical but true: if the Saudis officially took the deal, that would “seal” their defeat in the eyes of their own public opinion.  Having said that, I can’t believe that the Saudis believe their own propaganda about war against Iran.  No matter how delusional and arrogant the Saudi leaders are, surely they must realize what a war against Iran would mean for the House of Saud (although when I read this I wonder)!  It is one thing to murder defenseless Shias in the KSA, Bahrain or Yemen and quite another to take on “the country which trained Hezbollah”.

Speaking of delusional behavior, the Europeans finally did fall in line behind their AngloZionist overlords and agreed to blame Iran for the attack under what I call the “Skripal rules of evidence” aka “highly likely“.  The more things change, the more they remain the same I suppose…

It is pretty clear that all the members of the Axis of Kindness (USA, KSA, Israel) are in deep trouble on the internal front: Trump is busy with the “Zelensky vs Biden” scandal, especially now since the Dems are opening impeachment procedures, the latest elections failed to deliver the result Bibi wanted, as for the Saudis, after pushing for war they now have to settle for more sanctions and radars, hardly a winning combination.

The Saudis are too weak, clueless and obese (physically and mentally) to get anything done by themselves.  But the USA and Israel are now in a dire need to show some kind of “victory” over, well, somebody.  Anybody will do.  Thus the US have just denied visas 10 members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations (thereby violating yet another US obligation under international law, but nobody in the US cares about such minor trivialities as international law); and just to show how amazingly powerful the Empire is, the Iranian delegation to the UN received the same “punished bad boys” treatment: truly, a triumph worthy of a superpower!  Last minute update: the US is now revoking Iranian student visas and denying entry to Venezuelan diplomats.

This “war of visas” is the US equivalent of the “war on statues” the Ukrainians, Balts and the Poles have been waging to try to distract their population from the comprador policies of their governments.

As for the Israelis, I now expect the Israelis to strike some empty building in Syria (or even in Gaza!).

Conclusion: facts don’t really matter anymore, and neither does logic

Ten years ago Chris Hedges wrote a book called “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle ” and, a full decade later, this title is still an extremely accurate diagnostic.  What Hedges politely called the “end of literacy” can be observed in all its facets, listening to US political and military leaders. While most of them are, indeed, morally bankrupt and even psychopaths, it is their level of ignorance and incompetence which is the most amazing.  First, the Russians spoke of “non-agreement-capable” “partners” but eventually Putin quipped that it was hard to work with “people who confuse Austria and Australia“.  This all, by the way, applies as much to the Obama Administration as it does to the Trump Administration: their common motto could have been “illusions über alles” or something similar.  Once a political culture fully enters into the realm of illusions and delusions the end is near because no real-world problem ever gets tackled: it only gets obfuscated, denied and drowned into an ocean of triumphalist back-slapping and other forms of self-worship.

Post scriptum: the US goes crazy but Trump just might survive after all

So the Dems decided to try to impeach Trump.  While I always expected the Neocons to treat Trump as the “disposable President” which they would try to use to do all the stuff they don’t want to be blamed for directly, and then toss him away once they squeezed him for everything he could give them, I am still appalled by the nerve, the arrogance and the total dishonesty of the Dems (see my rant here).

My gut feeling is that Trump just might beat this one for the very same reason he won the first time around: because the other side is even worse (except Tulsi Gabbard, of course).

Of course, an attack on Iran would be a welcome distraction à la “wag the dog” and Trump might be tempted.  Hopefully, the Dems will self-destruct fast enough for Trump not to have to consider this.

The Saker

Why the Protestors of Hong Kong Are Destroying the Prosperity of Their Country

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Martin SIEFF

September 14, 2019

The people of Hong Kong enjoy one of the highest standards of livings of any city across continental Asia. Since peacefully being reabsorbed into mainland China in 1997, they have confounded endless Western Prophets of Doom: These falsely claimed that Beijing would not maintain its solemn undertakings for peace and security in the city and territory. They maintained that Hong Kong’s historic position as one of the great business hubs of Asia and the world would rapidly be destroyed. Nothing of the sort happened.

But the prosperity of Hong Kong for generations to come is danger now – and the threat manifestly does not come from Beijing.

The mass protests for greater democracy and freedom continue. And following a grim dynamic that goes back well over two centuries to the French Revolution they can never be satisfied.

The more that the administration of Hong Kong led by Carrie Lam and the national Chinese government in Beijing seek to avoid the undue use of force and the infliction of casualties, the more violent, the demonstrations slowly and remorselessly become, the broader and more sweeping are their demands for political liberties – though these are invariably vague and ill-defined.

I predict here – simply and clearly – that no matter how many concessions allegedly for liberty are given they will never satisfy the protestors and the Western governments who at the very least are using them as political puppets and pawns. All that can possibly be achieved is to create an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and violence: That is toxic to attract both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and also regular investment from the rest of China.

Therefore Hong Kong’s economy will founder, while unemployment and economic suffering will grow. Then, those suffering from it will be encouraged to blame the very government that has sought so long and so hard to prevent disasters from happening.

I speak with a particular authority on these matters: Half a century ago as a teenage Irish boy, I watched the same kind of protests destroy forever the peace and prosperity of one of the most advanced industrial centers on the face of the planet in the city of Belfast.

The lessons I learned then would serve the people of Hong Kong well today before they bring an unimaginable disaster upon themselves.

For popular violent protests against authorities never bring peace: They only bring war – Almost always on a scale that none of the protestors dreamed of when they took to the streets.

Prosperity never follows. At best there is mass unemployment and despair as local businesses and national investment flee the territory for decades and generations. You do not build factories and hire workers for them when the factory will be burned down in one of the endless clashes that will soon follow.

The “freedom” that the protestors demand is illusory. It is fools’ gold: It is the fantasy of wealth at the end of the rainbow that is never found.

Hong Kong’s enormous economic advantage for nearly 180 years under first British and over the past two decades of enlightened Chinese autonomous rule has been that it has been a secure, predictable and safe place to do business with the Mainland and with the wider region.

But that is no longer true: The longer the protests rage and the wider and more serious they become, the more that incalculable advantage is eroded before our eyes.

When I was a young boy, my father on Sunday mornings proudly took me down to the Harland & Woolf Shipyard on Queen’s Island to see some of the biggest moving vehicles in the world – giant cargo vessels, tankers, aircraft carriers and cruise ships – being built.

My father was proud of his son, but he was proud of his city too: Belfast was still the largest ship building center on earth. The great shipyard at its peak employed 35,000 workers. Enormous rivers of humanity would flow back and forth on the bridge over the River Lagan every day as its workers streamed to and from their labors. But for most of the past 50 years, almost all of it has become an industrial wasteland peopled only by ghosts.

Peace finally returned to Northern Ireland after 30 years of civil strife, but it was too late. The great shipyard never recovered and it never revived. What had been done could not be undone.

If these riots continue, that will be the fate of Hong Kong too. Nearly two centuries of growth and prosperity will wither and die.

This is no wild prediction. It is tantamount to a mathematical inevitability: There is a remorseless tidal wave of fate to the pattern of rising political protests that escalate into a violent revolution that can only be contained by the use of military force.

The Civil War in Northern Ireland raged – sometimes horrifically, sometimes more subdued – from 1968 to the landmark Good Friday Agreement of 1998. My old, dear friend, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Marjorie “Mo” Mowlam was the key figure driving the negotiations. She undermined her health doing so. Then a host of political parasites from US President Bill Clinton to British Prime Minister Tony Blair were eager to hog all the praise and credit for themselves years later as Mo lay dying from a brain tumor.

The decades that followed the collapse of law and order in Ireland in 1968-1972 were the darkest in the island’s troubled history since the Great Famine of the 1840s. The British government’s record of secret manipulation and involvement in dark excesses and crimes during those years gives London no moral standing today to lecture China on how it handles the unrest in Hong Kong, or anywhere else.

I never expected to see the end of apparently endless war in Ireland in my own lifetime. Thanks to Mo Mowlam’s selfless labors and those of countless other British and Irish figures great and small, peace finally came. The protestors of Hong Kong too now need to take a step back, suck in a deep breath and pause to think long and hard before they charge down that same doomed and awful path.

A Dinner with the Devil: The Suspicious Links of the Independent’s Owner with MBS

A Dinner with the Devil: The Suspicious Links of the Independent’s Owner with MBS

By Staff, The Guardian

Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Independent and the Evening Standard, hosted a private dinner for the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], raising further questions about the media mogul’s links to the de facto ruler of the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Lebedev’s news outlets are being investigated due to public interest concerns over a mysterious Saudi investment made through a web of offshore bank accounts, with the UK government suggesting that the Independent and Evening Standard are now part-owned by the Saudi state. The culture secretary, Nicky Morgan, has until Friday to decide whether or not to appeal against a court ruling that the UK government missed a deadline to intervene in the deal.

The revelation that Lebedev had a personal relationship with MBS raises further questions about the connections between the two men. According to the Guardian, MBS had taken time out of his brief state visit to London in March 2018 – when he was hosted by the then prime minister, Theresa May, and the Queen – to spend time with the Russian oligarch’s son, who is thought to have hosted the dinner at his house in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.

Leading business and media figures were also in attendance at the event, including the Virgin co-founder Richard Branson, whose spokesperson confirmed his attendance, saying: “Richard went to dinner as he was invited by Lebedev, who he knows well. At that time Virgin was discussing an investment with the [Saudi national investment fund] PIF in Virgin Galactic, which was later called off by Richard. The dinner was a personal one and not focused on business.”

Lebedev’s spokesperson declined to comment on the dinner but insisted MBS had no personal role in arranging the disputed investments in the London-based news outlets. At this time MBS was still attempting to project a modernizing image of his country, work that would be largely undone later that year when he was implicated in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Questions remain over why a Saudi state bank decided to buy a 30% stake in two British news outlets and how the deal was arranged. Multiple sources told the Guardian the Independent chairman, Justin Byam Shaw, had previously claimed he had discussed the initial Saudi investment with the former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2017.

Tony Blair’s Institute has since received millions of pounds from the Saudi Research and Marketing Group – a state-controlled media business which now runs a Saudi franchise of the Independent – while Saudi sources also said Blair had met Prince Mohammed later that year.

Both Lebedev’s spokesperson and Blair denied that the former Labor prime minister was an adviser on the investment. However, neither side would comment on claims that Byam Shaw had informally met and discussed the deal with Blair in 2017.

May’s government unexpectedly launched a formal investigation into whether the Saudi investment in the Evening Standard and Independent should be investigated on public interest grounds, with a court hearing claims that the man originally presented as the main investor, an unknown businessman named Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, was merely a frontman for the Saudi state.

The decision to launch an investigation, made in the dying days of May’s leadership, could prove to be a headache for Boris Johnson as he has close links to both Lebedev and the Evening Standard editor, George Osborne, whom he is currently promoting as a possible new boss of the International Monetary Fund.

When questioned about the Saudi investment earlier this year, Osborne insisted the titles retained editorial independence: “The days when British newspapers were owned by British people living in Britain disappeared 50 years ago. It is a reality that newspaper ownership is very diverse in this country.”

The prime minister has separately declined to answer questions from the Guardian about whether he abandoned his security detail to attend parties hosted at Lebedev’s Italian villa earlier this summer.

As a result of the deal the Independent has launched a series of foreign language websites aimed at Middle Eastern audiences. The Independent-branded sites are staffed and run by employees of Saudi Research and Marketing Group – the same company that later funded Blair’s institute. Some of the journalists producing the content are based in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, which has one of the lowest rankings for press freedom in the world.

Although the foreign-language Independent sites take some articles from the main English-language websites, London-based Independent employees have noted that stories critical of Saudi Arabia often fail to be translated. Lebedev’s spokesperson said they were aware of concerns from some UK staff but noted the overseas sites “are licensed properties” not directly under their purview.

G7 FORMAT IS DEAD

South Front

G7 Format Is Dead

US President Donald J. Trump speaks during a press conference on the closing day of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo: IAN LANGSDON, EPA-EFE)

The G7 summit took place in France’s Biarritz in the period from August 24 to August 26 involving leaders of the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, and the UK, as well as the top EU bureaucrat Donald Tusk.

The G7 participants released a surprisingly short joint statement adressing a very limited number of global questions:

The G7 Leaders wish to underline their great unity and the positive spirit of the debates. The G7 Summit organized by France in Biarritz has successfully produced agreements by the Heads of State and Government themselves on several points summarized below:

Trade

The G7 is committed to open and fair world trade and to the stability of the global economy.
The G7 requests that the Finance Ministers closely monitor the state of the global economy. 
Therefore, the G7 wishes to overhaul the WTO to improve effectiveness with regard to intellectual property protection, to settle disputes more swiftly and to eliminate unfair trade practices.
The G7 commits to reaching in 2020 an agreement to simplify regulatory barriers and modernize international taxation within the framework of the OECD.

Iran

We fully share two objectives: to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons and to foster peace and stability in the region.

Ukraine

France and Germany will organize a Normandy format summit in the coming weeks to achieve tangible results.

Libya

We support a truce in Libya that will lead to a long-term ceasefire.
We believe that only a political solution can ensure Libya’s stability.
We call for a well-prepared international conference to bring together all the stakeholders and regional actors relevant to this conflict.
We support in this regard the work of the United Nations and the African Union to set up an inter-Libyan conference.

Hong Kong

The G7 reaffirms the existence and importance of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 on Hong Kong and calls for violence to be avoided.

After the G7 in 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew its signature from the final declaration, the 2019 was shown by some mainstream media outlets as a success. However, it’s just another indication that the format is dying after the exclusion of Russia.

No surprise that the return of Russia in fact became one of the key topics during the G7 summit. The Guardian even reproted that there was a kind of scandal on this topic with the US leader openly arguing that Russia should be returned.

G7 Format Is Dead

U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

“Russia be readmitted to the group, rejecting arguments that it should remain an association of liberal democracies, according to diplomats at the summit in Biarritz.

The disagreement led to heated exchanges at a dinner on Saturday night inside the seaside resort’s 19th-century lighthouse. According to diplomatic sources, Trump argued strenuously that Vladimir Putin should be invited back, five years after Russia was ejected from the then G8) for its annexation of Crimea.

Of the other leaders around the table, only Giuseppe Conte, the outgoing Italian prime minister, offered Trump any support, according to this account. Shinzo Abe of Japan was neutral. The rest – the UK’s Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, the EU council president, Donald Tusk, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron – pushed back firmly against the suggestion,” The Guardian reported.

 

The report was followed by an official statement by Trump that having Russia in the group “is better than having them outside” the G7. So, The Guardian’s report part regarding Trump’s stance on the topic was true. At the same time, the newspaper claimed that all others were against. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Italy supported the idea.
  • The report claimed that Japan was neutral. However, in fact, Japan is interested in the expansion of diplomatic formats for the dialogue with Russia, especially regarding the Kuril Islands question. The bilateral talks on this topic is a dead end for Japan because Russia is not going to make any consenquences. The only chance of Shinzo Abe to make some progress is wider formats with help from his Western allies.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron allegedly was against this move during the G7. However, other French statements clearly indicate that Paris will act in the framework of its Big Brother, the US. It is not up to France, that lost a large part of its influence under the new presidency, to decide.
  • German’s Angela Merkel officially linked the return of Russia to the implementing the Minsk agreements related to the situation in eastern Ukraine. Crimea is for a long time beyond the diplomatic rhetoric of Merkel.
  • In fact, the UK and Canada were the only powers really standing against the return of Russia. Since the start of Trump’s first term, the  UK has been the key power representing interests of the Euro-Atlantic establishment. So, there is no surprise in this. At the same time, Canada is not a really independent state that can provide a really independent foreign policy. It’s an open secret that the UK still appoints a Governor General of Canada that has a wide range of options to impact the Canadian policy – for example, to dissolve the Parliament.
  • The EU council president Donald Tusk was also against, according to The Guardian. However, it remains unclear what did he do there. It’s the G7, not the G7 + “EU buerocrats”. If there is a decision to invite various persons to summit to make fun, SouthFront recommends to invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2020. He would use his comedian skills  to make a great show for the participants.

G7 Format Is Dead

David Lipton (IMF), Moussa Faki (AUC), David Malpass (World Bank), Scott Morrison (Australia), Antonio Guterres (UN), Narendra Modi (India), Guy Ryder (ILO), Pedro Sanchez (Spain), Angel Gurria (OECD), Akinwumi Adesina (African Development Bank). Front: Boris Johnson (UK), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Abdel Sisi (Egypt), Shinzo Abe (Japan), Justin Trudeau (Canada), Donald Trump (US), Emmanuel Macron (France), Angela Merkel (Germany), Macky Sall (Senegal), Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Guiseppe Conte (Italy), Donald Tusk (EC) Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA

MORE ON THE  TOPIC:

 

U.S.-UK Deep State Tries to Grab Hong Kong

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

U.S.-UK Deep State Tries to Grab Hong Kong

What can explain these recent instances, proven by Agence France-Press, in which outright frauds — lies (in the form of faked photos and videos) — are being spread online to support the agenda of breaking off, from China, Hong Kong (which has historically always a part of China), so as to make Hong Kong an ‘independent’ nation?:

——

https://factcheck.afp.com/
This video actually shows Chinese tanks in Hong Kong in June 2012
26 July 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/old-
This is an old video of a training exercise by South Korean riot police
29 July 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
The press pass in this doctored photo is from Apple Daily’s Taiwan bureau, not Hong Kong
30 July 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/all-
All crime legal in Hong Kong for 12 hours? No, the ’emergency broadcast’ is fictional
5 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
This photo shows a different cat — the owner of Hong Kong’s Brother Cream says he is unharmed
8 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/its-
It’s an old photo of an actor on a Hong Kong TV show
9 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
This video shows Hong Kong police firing tear gas at Kwai Fong station in August 2019
14 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
Gangsters beat up Hong Kong protester? The video was actually filmed in Taiwan in 2018 and shows a man being attacked over debts
16 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
Hong Kong airport has said ‘all lighting operated as normal’
20 August 2019
https://factcheck.afp.com/
These pictures are from protests in France and Spain, not recent demonstrations in Hong Kong
21 August 2019

——

The context might explain it:

On August 14th, Toronto lawyer Christopher Black, who is an expert on U.S.-UK Deep State efforts to grab back Hong Kong for the British Empire, headlined at Global Research “America’s ‘Hybrid War’ against China has Entered a New Phase”, and he described a six-phase “hybrid war” by the U.S.-UK Deep State against China in Hong Kong:

The first stage involved the massive shift of US air and naval forces to the Pacific. …

The second stage was the creation of disinformation about China’s treatment of minority groups, especially in Tibet and west China. …

[The third stage is] the propaganda was extended to China’s economic development, its international trade, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, its Silk and Belt Road Initiative, its development bank, and other facilities and trade initiatives, through which China is accused of trying to control the world. …

The fourth phase is the US attempt to degrade the Chinese economy with punitive “tariffs,” …

A fifth phase [is] the kidnapping and illegal detention of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of China’s leading technology company Huawei, …

[The sixth phase] in this hybrid warfare is the insurrection being provoked by the US, UK, Canada and the rest in Hong Kong, …

Also on August 14th, the anonymous “Moon of Alabama” blogger (a German intelligence-analyst), headlined “Violent Protests In Hong Kong Reach Their Last Stage”, and he opened:

The riots in Hong Kong are about to end.

The protests, as originally started in June, were against a law that would have allowed criminal extraditions to Taiwan, Macao and mainland China. The law was retracted and the large protests have since died down. What is left are a few thousand students who, as advertised in a New York Times op-ed, intentionally seek to provoke the police with “marginal violence”:

“Such actions are a way to make noise and gain attention. And if they prompt the police to respond with unnecessary force, as happened on June 12, then the public will feel disapproval and disgust for the authorities. The protesters should thoughtfully escalate nonviolence, maybe even resort to mild force, to push the government to the edge. That was the goal of many people who surrounded and barricaded police headquarters for hours on June 21.”

The protesters now use the same violent methods that were used in the Maidan protests in the Ukraine. The U.S. seems to hope that China will intervene and create a second Tianamen sceneThat U.S. color revolution attemptfailed but was an excellent instrument to demonize China. A repeat in Hong Kong would allow to declare a “clash of civilization” and increase ‘western’ hostility against China. But while China is prepared to intervene it is unlikely to do the U.S. that favor. Its government expressed its confidence that the local authorities will be able to handle the issue.

There are rumors that some Hong Kong oligarchs were originally behind the protests to prevent their extradition for shady deals they made in China. There may be some truth to that. China’s president Xi Jingpin is waging a fierce campaign against corruption and Hong Kong is a target-rich environment for fighting that crime.

The former British colony is ruled by a handful of oligarchs who have monopolies in the housing, electricity, trade and transport markets: …

Then there was this from him, after the Sunday, August 18th, demonstration:

——

https://www.moonofalabama.org/

August 19, 2019

Which Hong Kong Protest Size Estimate is Right?

The New York Times further promotes the protests in Hong Kong by quoting an extravagant crowd size estimate of yesterday’s march.

… So what is it? 128,000 or the 13 times bigger 1.7 million? With the mood set in the first paragraphs the Times is clearly promoting the larger estimate.

But that estimate is definitely false. (As was my own early estimate of 15-20,000 based on early pictures of the event.) It is impossible that 1.7 million people took part in the gathering and march. There is no way that the 1.7 million people would physically fit in or near the protest venue.

——

He demonstrated there, beyond question, that the NYT’s allegation that the crowd was 1,700,000 was at least 13 times too large.

Consequently, since all of those matters are documented facts — not mere conjectures — the rational conclusion would be that the same Deep State that overthrew Iran’s democracy in 1954, and that overthrew Guatemala’s democracy in 1954, and that overthrew Chile’s democracy in 1973, and that overthrew Ukraine’s democracy in 2014, and that installed brutal military regimes in each one of those places, and that also in many other instances has installed dictatorial U.S.-controlled vassal-states, and that has been trying to do similar things to Libya, and to Syria, and to Venezuela, and to Russia (“color revolutions” they are called) is trying to do that also in Hong Kong. And, as has always been the case in the past, the U.S.-and-allied Deep State regime’s propaganda is that this is being done for ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’. This would explain those hoaxes that AFP has been documenting against Hong Kong’s government.

The lying continues on, at all U.S. mainstream (and most of its non-mainstream) ‘news’-media, such as:

——

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/

A Guide To What’s Happening In Hong Kong

August 20, 2019 12:38 PM ET COLIN DWYER

Organizers say more than a million demonstrators gathered Sunday in Hong Kong … carrying umbrellas that have come to signify resistance. …

Janis Mackey Frayer✔@janisfrayer

Pouring rain in #HongKong but tens of thousands still protesting today… chanting ‘Hong Kong people, keep going’. The rally is seen as a measure of public support for the protest movement, after 11 consecutive weekends and increasingly violence. @NBCNews @NBCNightlyNews @MSNBC

5:26 AM – Sun. Aug 18, 2019 …

“We demand that the bill be formally withdrawn now,” said Alvin Yeung, a member of the region’s Legislative Council and leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party. He also told All Things Considered that protesters are demanding “an independent inquiry to look into police misconduct and brutality.”

“That is something so simple that any open and civil society would do,” he added. “But then this government has been refusing to set up a commission to look into that. And more importantly, of course, is a democratic system.” …

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/

Twitter And Facebook Shut Down Fake Propaganda Accounts Run By Chinese Government

August 20, 20194:23 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Adam Segal, at the Council on Foreign Relations, about Facebook and Twitter shutting down hundreds of fake accounts run by the Chinese government.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We have heard a lot about Russia creating fake social media accounts to influence political discourse in other countries. Now Facebook and Twitter say they have shut down hundreds of fake accounts created and run by the Chinese government. These pages are mainly spreading messages against the Hong Kong protests.

Adam Segal is the director of digital and cyberspace policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has studied China’s use of disinformation, and he joins us now. Hi, there.

ADAM SEGAL: Thanks for having me.

KELLY: So help us understand what exactly China stands accused of doing. Give me an example of one of these fake accounts and what it’s been tweeting or posting.

SEGAL: Twitter and Facebook have said that the Chinese have created fake accounts or inauthentic accounts and that they’ve spread disinformation about the protests in Hong Kong. Some of the accounts have compared the protesters to cockroaches or to ISIS and have suggested that they’ve taken money from either foreigners or what one of the accounts called bad guys.

KELLY: What is the scope of this operation, as far as we can tell? …

——

The amazing thing is that America’s leading ‘reporters’ of ‘news’ continue on with their lying even after it has been conclusively exposed in honest foreign, and in the honest non-mainstream, news-sites online (such as here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here — all 25 of those are great  news-sites, reliable news-sites, news-sites that are punctilious about truth, and careful to avoid lies). America’s leading ‘reporters’ just ignore truth, and they continue to pump the regime’s lies, as stenographers for its lies, trusting and never challenging such ‘authorities’ as the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution, and the U.S. Government, and the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and U.S. TV and radio, etc. — all of the same fraudsters who were pumping for the invasion of Iraq, up to and including the U.S. regime’s criminal invasion in 2003. This country hasn’t learned a thing, except lies, since at least  2003. There seems to be an endless market for lies, in the U.S.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

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