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Hong Kong protests good, Black Lives Matter bad? Anti-China activists and Republican supporters reek of hypocrisy

Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

Hong Kong protests good, Black Lives Matter bad? Anti-China activists and Republican supporters reek of hypocrisy
When anti-Beijing protests gripped Hong Kong last year, the organizers of the movement were hailed by Western media as progressive heroes. Why then, has one of its lead figures condemned global Black Lives Matter demonstrations?

As reported by the Grayzone, billionaire and Hong Kong protest-backer Jimmy Lai shared a video by former Israeli soldier and right-wing YouTuber Avi Yemini on June 2 with the quote: “The riots in America are nothing like Hong Kong, and comparing the two is bloody disgraceful.” He followed it up with thanks to Yemini for “speaking up” in support of Hong Kong demonstrators. Yemini’s ties to neo-Nazis have been well-documented (he once described himself as “the world’s proudest Jewish Nazi”) and, in the video posted by Lai, he denounces BLM protesters as “antifa extremists” who are “destroying everything that is American.”

This attitude won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who paid close attention (beyond Western headlines) to the Hong Kong protests last year. Demonstrators regularly waved the American flag at protests and lavished praise on Washington as the proverbial shining city on a hill. Its leaders forged close and mutually convenient alliances with the Trump administration, which is eager for any excuse to ramp up its anti-China rhetoric.

Even HK organizers who have spoken up in support of BLM have avoided criticizing Trump and have spent years building alliances with some of the most hardened conservatives in Washington. The Grayzone has noted, for instance, that the movement’s poster-boy Joshua Wong, who claims to stand “firmly on the side” of BLM (without criticizing Trump, of course), met with Republican Senator Tom Cotton in 2016. Last week, Cotton used the pages of the New York Times to call on Trump to unleash the military against US protesters. 

Also on rt.com Hong Kong protest leader slams NBA star LeBron James for taking up black cause, but not anti-Beijing one

A cynic might assume that Cotton and his ilk are more concerned with agitating against Beijing for geopolitical reasons than they are with human rights – and that Wong and his movement are simply being used as a convenient tool at the Trump administration’s disposal. 

The layers of hypocrisy here are many. American conservatives applauded Hong Kong protests even as they turned brutally violent and destructive, but instantly condemned violent elements of the US protest movement –and remained eerily quiet, even when police targeted peaceful protesters and journalists with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades. Hong Kong protest backers like Lai are happy to follow the Trump administration’s lead, condemning US protesters while hoping their Western media supporters won’t notice that such a stance doesn’t quite jibe with their pro-Democracy rhetoric. 

When asked on Wednesday how he felt about nations like China and Iran condemning police brutality in the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched into a ridiculous speech about how the US is “the greatest nation in the history of civilization” – and nothing that happens in good ole 'Murica could ever be compared to anything that happens on say, the streets of Beijing or Tehran. Nonsense, of course, but that’s the kind of American exceptionalist delusion that people like Lai appear to have bought into.

For proof that Lai knows well where the Hong Kong movement's bread is buttered, look no further than his interview with CNN in May, in which he declared that “only Trump can save Hong Kong” from China. Stroking Trump’s ego even as he threatens to let the military shoot looters is quite the odd look for a pro-Democracy activist.

While some have refused to express support for peaceful BLM movements and even thwarted efforts to organize a rally in the city, there is no doubt that many Hong Kong protesters do support the Black Lives Matter movement and espouse truly Democratic ideals. Yet, they are evidently not the driving forces of the movement, which have clearly shown willingness to align with the most right-wing, hawkish, pro-regime change and anti-progressive elements in US politics.

This would be the equivalent of the BLM movement fully aligning itself with the Communist Party of China, while staying silent on (or even condoning) police brutality in Hong Kong and expecting no one to raise an eyebrow.

Also on rt.com ‘Irony is dead’: Pompeo accuses China of trying to ‘deny Hong Kongers a voice’ as cops in US plow into protesters

The media’s portrayal of Hong Kong’s protest movement has been woefully simplistic. Now that some of its leaders are showing their true colors, it has a perfect opportunity to fill in the gaps and provide a full picture, drawing the necessary distinction with the BLM movement – but don’t hold your breath waiting.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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