Capitol attack: Equating Hong Kong, Taiwan’s ‘sunflower’ movement and Tiananmen is wrong

Chinese and Hong Kong authorities accuse Washington of a “double standard”. Protesters in the former British colony, however, want more democracy, as did those in Tiananmen. Young Taiwanese fought for the sovereignty of their country. The Republic of China in 1913 is a precedent. The democratic system saved the United States.

Jan 14, 2021

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the recent mass arrests involving numerous pro-democracy figures.

Regarding the protests in Hong Kong of the past 18 months, she criticised the “double standard” of governments like that of the United States.

Lam used the attack against the Capitol in Washington, on 6 January, by supporters of President Trump, to attack the US government.

“When the same things seemed to happen in their own country, they immediately took a very different approach to condemn the violence and some said that this was verging on sedition in American society,” she said.

In mainland China, the authorities and media also slammed the West for “double standards”, noting that pro-Trump protesters are labelled terrorists, whilst Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are seen as freedom fighters.

In Hong Kong, anti-establishment activists and analysts have replied that what happened in Washington is not comparable to the protests by a pro-democracy, citizen-led movement; the two situations must be put in the right context.

The protesters stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) two years ago to stop the adoption of an extradition law that was undemocratic.

They did not want to overturn a democratic vote deemed free and fair by election officials and the courts, and by the overwhelming majority of civil society.

The difference between the two cases is that Hong Kong's institutions – LegCo and government – are only semi-democratic, and are not representative of the entire local population, which is not the case in the United States.

The occupation of the Taiwan Parliament in 2014 was also compared to the events on Capitol Hill.

Young Taiwanese from the Sunflower Movement raided the assembly to block the approval of a trade agreement with China pushed by the government, then led by the pro-Beijing Kuomintang.

For the protesters, the deal endangered the island's de facto sovereignty, accelerating a possible reunification with the “motherland”, a position shared by the majority of the Taiwanese population.

Starting from a point of view opposite to that of Beijing, some Chinese dissidents in the US have found similarities between the siege on Capitol Hill and the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

They are pro-Trump and appreciate his harsh policy towards Communist China. For them, the attackers were engaged in a political struggle like the Chinese students 30 years ago.

For other Tiananmen veterans, the parallel is inappropriate: in 1989 young Chinese protesters demanded democratic rights such as voting rights; in the US, this already exists.

In an editorial in the Apple Daily, Lam Hoi points out that the comparison is more fitting with China’s presidential elections of 1913. At the time, Yuan Shikai mobilised his supporters to besiege Parliament to be elected president. Yuan succeeded; Trump failed.

Despite the growing political polarisation in the United States, the country has solid democratic institutions that prevented the subversion of the established order.

According to an Ipsos poll, 70 per cent of Americans condemn the attack on Congress and 74 per cent demand that the attackers go to jail.--Asia News

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