RSF appeals to release Jimmy Lai, but what about Capitol rioters?
Published: May 30, 2021 09:08 PM


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) submitted on Friday an urgent appeal to the UN to "take all measures necessary to obtain the immediate release" of Hong Kong media tycoon and secessionist Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.

"It's about time that the international community takes action to stop the judicial harassment of Jimmy Lai and to pressure the Hong Kong government into restoring full press freedom," the appeal reads. 

The point is, does the RSF actually believe it is qualified to identify what press freedom is? 

Lai was one of the backstage manipulators of a series of social violence and turmoil in Hong Kong. He has been convicted of violating Hong Kong law, including attending and organizing an illegal assembly, colluding with foreign countries or forces to endanger national security and tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. 

That being said, the appeal of RSF is suggesting one thing: "Freedom of press" can be used as an excuse to acquit those who have criminally endangered national security. In that case, the RSF should be consistent to demand the release of the over 430 people who were arrested in connection with the Capitol Hill riots. However, RSF's double standards are laid bare here. It condemned the violent protest on Capitol Hill, yet clamors those who incite the same thing in China must be protected.

The Paris-based RSF has been called an "independent NGO" and "civil society group" without political bias. Yet a simple browse into its sponsors could tell that it does not deserve the titles at all.

The Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is labeled as "a CIA front" with the aim to promote the so-called democracy abroad, is one of RSF's sugar daddies. Reports have shown that radical groups in Hong Kong received significant sums of funding from the NED to carry out the riots in the city.  

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday that NGOs like RSF are one of the US tools to conduct interferential activities in non-Western countries to meet Washington's own political targets. 

Reports of the RSF interfering in the domestic affairs of Cuba, Ukraine and Uzbekistan can be found from time to time over the years. Over the past month, its Twitter account has expressed support for reporters mainly from China, such as Chinese-Australian journalist Yang Hengjun, who is charged with espionage, and those in Turkey, Ethiopia, Ghana, who have violated local laws. 

On Thursday, the organization even led a protest at the Belarusian border against dissident journalists' arrest in Belarus, which is not the first time the so-called media watchdog voiced concerns for "crackdown on press freedom in Belarus."

However, the organization seems to be OK with itself remaining silent over the US crackdown on Edward Snowden's freedom of speech, turning a blind eye to Washington oppression of Chinese and Russian journalists in the US, or Twitter and Facebook shutting down accounts of former president Donald Trump's supporters. 

When Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party authorities decided not to renew the broadcast license for local Chung T'ien Television (CTi) in 2020 for its pro-Chinese mainland stance, and when the island expelled two Chinese mainland journalists in the same year, RSF pretentiously articulated the moves did not violate press freedom. Now, it is thick-skinned enough to appeal for Lai.

It is worth noting that NGOs like RSF do not work alone. They are usually well coordinated with the US mainstream media, political figures and even government policies, Li said. 

Yet the US has trapped itself by abusing double standards in this self-righteous and presumptuous manner. Unless the RSF advocates for Capitol rioters as well when defending Lai, both the organization and its funders will become the butt of jokes eventually.