Hong Kong – Colony to National Security Law

By Retired Judge Julie Tang, San Francisco
July 28, 2020

I was born and raised in colonial Hong Kong where I spent most of my teenage years before I came to the US in 1967.

Growing up in Hong Kong, I learned first-hand the racism, discrimination and oppression of the Chinese people by the British government. A British brand of white superiority was imposed upon Hong Kong that lasted more than 99 years. It created a devastating effect on the socio-psychological dynamics upon the Chinese people of Hong Kong, especially among the young people. Its influence persists even to this day.

Under British rule, there was no democracy, and there were no public elections. It was only in the late 1970s, in anticipation of Hong Kong being returned to China, that the British governor started to allow a limited number of seats in the legislature to be opened to the public for election. But as colonization goes, the Hong Kong government was beholden only to Britain. England also controlled the judiciary whose judges were appointed by the governor. The final court of adjudication was in England, not Hong Kong.

In spite of a free market economy, the British companies had a monopoly on trade and commerce. All public transportation, including buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc. had to be purchased from Britain. Hong Kong taxpayers also helped support the British army stationed in Hong Kong. The British government controlled all land sales. Britain’s coffers are enriched every time a land sale is permitted.

The real estate economy became a stable economy in Hong Kong since the 1970s and continues even to this date. It drove up prices and created a huge gap between the poor and the rich. As a consequence, poor people could not afford decent housing. 20% of the people in Hong Kong still live in cage-like housing units creating a poor social environment for the entire family.

Hong Kong was returned back to its motherland China in 1997. On this return, China created a “One-country, Two-systems” government system. It allows Hong Kong to manage its own governmental affairs with a “high degree of autonomy” and China did not get involved with Hong Kong’s internal Governance. Hong Kong appeared peaceful and going about its business under this system without any problems. In 2013, there was an “occupy central” protest that shot up. But it subsided as quickly as it started.

However, in 2019, exactly 23 years after Hong Kong was returned to China, everything changed. This time, the US and China were in the midst of a hybrid warfare – info and trade war. And co-incidentally, it was reported that foreign monetary resources and organizational support became available to the protestors. A ‘color revolution” started to take shape in the form of some of the most violent and lawless protests in the entire history of Hong Kong since colonial days.

It began as a peaceful protest against an Extradition Law that would allow the Hong Kong government to return a Hong Kong man accused of a murder of his pregnant girlfriend back to Taiwan, where the crime took place. The protest also gained momentum on the poverty issue confronting Hong Kong. But the movement evolved quickly into a politically charged separatist movement, turning it into an anti-China campaign. And in spite of the extradition law having been withdrawn, a large number of the protestors continued to engage in very violent conduct to disrupt an orderly and civilized society; some even swore to take down Hong Kong by any means. The protests continued and escalated into total mayhem against the city of Hong Kong and its citizens for a continuous solid 6 months.

I have personally joined and organized demonstrations; the last one was for “Black Lives Matter”. But what repelled me about this particular protest was the degree of violence demonstrated by the protesters and its empowerment by Western powers.  Protesters assaulted innocent people who did not agree with them, one man was burned alive, another killed with a brick thrown at his head. The rioters destroyed university facilities and almost all the subway stations in Hong Kong. They blocked airports, bridges, highways and paralyzed traffic for days. Protesters used petrol bombs, laser pointers, umbrellas with sharp points, bows and arrows, and numerous other weapons to inflict serious physical harm upon an unprepared police force. They seemed well prepared to rain violence upon Hong Kong but were able to protect themselves in very well-equipped protective gear and high-tech gas masks. Hong Kong was transformed overnight from a beautiful, peaceful city into an inferno. Still not one protester was killed by the police. And the greater share of injury was suffered by the police force and civilians. http://youtu.be/e5hyi4mlYg

The Treachery

There is treachery behind these movements – the role the American politicians and Western media played in this protest. The movement was branded as one for Hong Kong peoples’ “freedom and democracy.” But there was never any clear definition of what that meant for Hong Kong other than a suggestion for a direct voting system for the election of Governor. The demands by the protestors never addressed the poverty conditions of Hong Kong. The poverty issue was “taken off the table,” so to speak. Many Hong Kong people turned away from and separated themselves from the protests while the Western countries continued to stoke the violence through their political leaders and mainstream media. At the height of the demonstrations, when the conduct of the protesters rose to the level of terrorism creating fear, suffering, and destruction in Hong Kong, US Senator Mark Rubio came to Hong Kong and proclaimed there was no violence in Hong Kong. Steve Bannon was also quoted on NPR talking about regime change was underway. The United States lawmakers passed human rights bills to attack China and the Hong Kong government in support of the violent protesters. In England, the British Parliament also spoke in unison along with the Americans – lending moral support to the Hong Kong rioters. The euphemistic propaganda line that what were clearly acts of rioting and terrorism, were spoken of as peaceful protests by young heroic people who were oppressed by the Hong Kong government and struggling for freedom by all the major US and Western media that I used to respect.

United States Funds the Hong Kong protests

It is a sobering realization that our US tax dollars are actually paying for some of the activities that supported the riots and hence, the destruction of Hong Kong. According to the website of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), since 2014, the year of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Protests, NED has officially poured over

29 million US dollars into Hong Kong to “identify new avenues for democracy and political reform.” The protests damaged Hong Kong’s economy tremendously. It cost Hong Kong taxpayers

400 million US dollars’ worth of damage to the physical structures of Hong Kong. And that doesn’t include damages such as deaths and injury to the civilians and police officers, and the political polarization that is dividing Hong Kong. These damages are incalculable and have long lasting ill effects.

Before the riots, Hong Kong enjoyed great world recognition for its free speech and freedom of economy. Hong Kong is rated #3 best in world record of human rights, and #2 best in world record of economic freedom, according to the Cato Institute, a conservative US think tank. Hong Kong has a direct election system for district and city-wide elected representatives and a version of representative election for its governor. The protesters never articulated what kind of a democratic government they want. It appears the protests are more about promoting anti-China sentiments rather than fighting for democracy and freedom.

Hong Kong desperately needed help to deal with many social issues. The pandemic added another level to a deeply divided Hong Kong over the protests and riots. It is therefore, most essential to have a stable and safe society to fight the pandemic and keep Hong Kong safe from further massive riots and violence that are politically motivated.

During the riots, there were strong evidence that the foreign influence was behind a lot of the lawlessness and violence manifested by the protesters. Suspected CIA operatives were filmed directing the riots of Hong Kong. The US consulate’s political sector representative was photographed meeting with the young leaders of the movement, among them Joshua wong, who acted very polite and deferential towards the American diplomat.

The National Security Act

To bring Hong Kong back under control from riots and violence, Hong Kong adopted the first National Security Law since its return to China. Its main aim is to rid Hong Kong of foreign infiltration aimed at creating separatism in Hong Kong’s society. By getting rid of foreign spy operations and cutting off foreign support for those who seek to destroy Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government hopes to restore some semblance of peace back to the city. The National Security Law targets terrorism, separatism, secession, and collusion with foreign government’s intrusion into Hong Kong’s domestic affairs. .

It also contains provisions to guarantee human rights for anyone accused under this law. And it re-affirms the governance of “One country- Two systems” set out in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. Very importantly, something that the US and the Western countries seem to have forgotten is that Hong Kong’s constitution also carries two exceptions to the “Two Systems,” that “defense and foreign relations” matters are reserved solely under China’s authority. And the autonomy China granted to Hong Kong is “a high degree of autonomy,” NOT “absolute autonomy.”

Effects on Chinese Americans

We urge the US to stay out of the internal affairs of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is China’s problem, not ours. Chinese- Americans stand to suffer the greatest harm if a war is started between the US and China. Our FBI director under Trump is already unfairly casting Chinese Americans as spies. Given US’s history of putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WWII, Chinese Americans are not in any less danger of being castigated and victimized should a war start with China. We already witnessed the effects of President Trump calling the pandemic the “Chinese virus” and “Kung-flu,” causing a spike of anti-Asian violence across the US. There were approximately 2050 cases of anti-Asian racist incidents reported to the web site STOPAAPIHate since March 2020. And there are probably many more that were not reported. Asians are now wary of going out unprotected from racist people who blame us for the pandemic. Parents are worried their children will suffer bullying when they eventually return to school. The level of anxiety among Asians over racism during this pandemic is very real and concerning.


We strongly urge the US government to seek cooperation with China, not confrontation and provocation. The two countries’ cooperation will have a global positive effect on the world. The continuing confrontation will only lead us to the most undesirable effect – war with China. This is something that every American, not just Asians, should be concerned with. And we hope this year in November we will be electing leaders who will work towards a peace plan with China, not a war plan.

Thank you.