After four months, mass anti-government protests have become increasingly violent in Hong Kong, and China accuses the U.S. of orchestrating it with foreigners working for the CIA.
At first, demonstrators were responding to a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed fugitives to be returned to mainland China. That proposal has since been withdrawn but protesters’ demands have changed. Protestors, most of them young, want democratic reform and greater autonomy from mainland China, which has sovereignty over the former British colony under the “one country, two systems” framework, according to Time.
Foreign employers in Hong Kong are under growing pressure to condemn the violence of the protest movement or show they’re loyal to China and impose pressure on employees participating in the protests on social media, the Independent reported.
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, 22, has been accused of having close ties to the U.S. When he was 17, Wong led the student group Scholarism and became famous during the 2014 Hong Kong protests, earning a spot in TIME magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2014. Fortune Magazine called him one of the “world’s greatest leaders” in 2015, and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
Central government-controlled newspaper Wen Wei Po published a 2014 “expose” when Wong just 17, saying the student leader had been identified by “U.S. forces”, Wall Street Journal reported. The U.S. had been working with Wong since he was 14 to cultivate him as a “political superstar.”
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After multiple arrests, Wong in September announced that he’s running for office in upcoming district council elections.
“I’m convinced democracy will grow from the ground up, from the community,” Wong told supporters, pro-democracy lawmakers and media.
“Joshua Wong is at the front of the battle lines,” lawmaker Fernando Cheung told the gathering. “It is not an easy thing to do at all. He should be renamed as the David of David and Goliath. His strength is insurmountable.”
Wong’s political party, Demosisto, has been blocked from entering local politics. He acknowledged that he may also be prohibited from running for a district-level council. “If they disqualify me, I know it will generate more international momentum to keep focusing on Hong Kong,” he told TIME.
In the current political climate, disqualifying pro-democracy candidates would “likely provoke sizable protest,” said Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
As evidence for Wong’s close ties to the U.S., the Chinese government-controlled newspaper described “frequent meetings with U.S. consulate personnel in Hong Kong,” “covert donations from Americans” to Wong and photos leaked by “netizens.” The story also said Wong’s family visited Macau in 2011 at the invitation of the American Chamber of Commerce and stayed at the “U.S.-owned” Venetian Macao.
Wen Wei Po said that the CIA has tried to infiltrate Hong Kong schools, for example through the Hong Kong-America Center, a group headed by former U.S. diplomat Morton Holbrook that promotes H.K.-U.S. ties. It also alleged that the CIA is training a new generation of protest leaders by sponsoring students to study in the U.S., with the goal of stoking more revolutions.
China has accused Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying of inviting foreign interference and causing chaos in the protests. Lai met earlier in 2019 in Washington, D.C. with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the extradition bill, which has since been suspended.
The central government accused the U.S. of repeatedly interfering in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs, South China Morning Post reported.
Lai has financially supported the Hong Kong democrats — not illegal — but some pro-Beijing newspapers suggested the money originated in the U.S. Mark Simon — in 2014, a senior executive at Next Media Group, which is controlled by Lai — has been an unrelenting critic of the Communist Party and the Hong Kong government. Simon helped Lai build relationships with right-wing U.S. politicians, according to SCMP.
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