HK rioters criticized for meddling in Thai protests

By Yang Sheng Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/20 22:22:44

HK separatists ‘cheering disorder elsewhere’

Protesters give the three-finger salute outside the Victory Monument BTS skytrain station in Bangkok on October 20, 2020. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong separatists are using recent protests in Thailand to increase their public profile, as their separatist activities in Hong Kong have been strictly contained after the national security law for the city came into effect, and their support for the unrest in Thailand is being criticized and mocked by Hong Kong residents, as some said "they cheer for more turmoil elsewhere after they failed in Hong Kong."

Chinese mainland experts said that the Hong Kong separatists want to shape a situation in which chaos and anti-government sentiment is common in the region, so they might have a chance to keep motivating their supporters in Hong Kong. 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, some forces from outside the region, like the US, might also want to disrupt the stability of the ASEAN countries in order to weaken the post-pandemic recovery in the regions around China, said experts.

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong separatist political activist, and Hui Chi-fung, an opposition camp politician in the city's Legislative Council, and some other anti-government separatist activists went to the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Hong Kong to voice support for the current protests "on behalf of the Hong Kong people" in Thailand, according to a report by Hong Kong-based media Sing Tao Daily on Monday.

However, their behavior has been criticized and mocked by Hong Kong local residents, as some of them said on social media "Don't say 'Hong Kongers support Thais' as I don't want to be represented by you [Hong Kong separatists]," and "the same playbook, messing up others after messing up their own city," the report said.

After the national security law for Hong Kong came into effect earlier this year, chaos, riots and violent illegal activities were largely reduced and almost totally stopped in Hong Kong, as these separatists realized that more violations of the law will have serious consequences.

The people of Hong Kong have also witnessed the mess and damage to the local economy and public order that those protests brought to the city since June 2019, so opposition camp politicians and local separatists started to lose the support of the public, said Li Xiaobing, a Hong Kong affairs legal expert at Nankai University in Tianjin.

"These separatist activists and politicians are professionals at creating chaos to harm public order," said Tian Feilong, an expert on Hong Kong affairs at Beihang University in Beijing, adding that now these politicians and separatists want to maintain their presence in front of the public by interfering in similar incidents elsewhere, and they expect that one day the chaos can return to Hong Kong under the support of foreign forces. 

"By supporting protests elsewhere, these Hong Kong separatists are trying to seek 'legitimacy' for their illegal and violent activities last year, so that they extend the anti-government sentiment among their wavering supporters," Tian said.

The recent protests in Thailand have many similarities with those of Hong Kong in 2019, as Thailand's protests have echoed some of the tactics seen during Hong Kong's riots last year, which "used fluid and diffuse strategies to confound authorities," the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

"I learned some of the techniques from the Hong Kong demonstrations, like the ways they inform and guide each other," said Sarawut Tawan, a 30-year-old volunteer at the Thailand protest, and also bringing umbrellas and wearing raincoats, helmets and goggles, braced for a confrontation with authorities, according to the WSJ.

Just like Wong in Hong Kong, some protest leaders in Thailand have some connections with the US. According to Deutsche Welle, when a photo of the US ambassador in Bangkok together with Thai student protest leader Parit Chiwarak surfaced last month, Thai royalists put pressure on the US embassy until it had to declare in writing that "the United States government does not fund or support any protests in Thailand."

Xu Liping, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times that there is no solid evidence to prove that the US government is behind the unrest in Thailand, but on US social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, one can find that many pro-government Thai accounts have been shut down, while many accounts that spread anti-government disinformation have survived.

"So at least Western social media and some mainstream media are taking sides to stand with the protesters," he noted.

Chinese analysts said some ASEAN members like Thailand refused to serve the US' strategy to contain China and have cooperated with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, so they will become targets of the US, and tactics used by Hong Kong separatists last year will be useful for it to interfere in those ASEAN countries.

"Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only Thailand but also other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia have encountered many domestic problems recently due to the serious economic situation, and this has provided a chance for foreign forces to intervene," Li said.

The protests in Thailand have remained peaceful so far, avoiding the violence that accompanied the later stages of Hong Kong's movement, the WSJ reported, but Li said that if the protests continue and receive funds, guidance and training from foreign forces, they will move into violence like what happened in Hong Kong last year.

Before the Hong Kong turmoil in 2019, Wong had already started to build connections with his colleagues in Thailand. In 2016, he was blacklisted by the Thai government and  detained at the airport for 12 hours before being repatriated to Hong Kong, after he went to Thailand at  the invitation of Thai political activists to deliver a speech at Chulalongkorn University of Thailand. 

Wong had a similar experience in Malaysia in 2015. He was refused entry by the Malaysian government due to concerns over national security and damage to China-Malaysia relations.

Newspaper headline: Rioters meddle in Thailand


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