International cooperation, not cheap confrontation, is the key to help Hong Kong – Labour Response

This is an extended response to our Liberal article on the same topic. You can read it first here.

International cooperation, not cheap confrontation, is the key to help Hong Kong – Labour Response

In a slack and sloppy article, the Liberal team managed to stumble to the right response on how to help Hong Kong, but for all the wrong reasons.

To superficially suggest that Hong Kong is an “important chapter” in British history actively ignores much of the sordid story. Western military aggression towards China was directly driven by profits from the drug trade. It underpinned both the Opium Wars and was used to justify colonialist control of Hong Kong. 

We must be completely clear: Britain’s rule is rightly over, and should never be repeated. This means an end to patronising paternalism and an end to our so-called ‘responsibilities’. That legacy belongs in the past, like much of the “Brexit and bulldogs” bollocks that has brewed in this country over the last few years. 

Of course, it is right that we respond. However, what we cannot do is to replace one doctrine of nationalist aggression with another. Calling on our “US ally” (just like we did in Iraq) would do just that.

Under the current coward-in-chief, America is engaged in escalating tensions with China. This approach endangers us all and risks a return to Cold War confrontation. 

The parallels to that period go further. The Civil Rights movement showed the second class status and suffering of black Americans to the world. Nearly 60 years later, the same fight is still sadly being fought. These contemporary protests leave Trump cowering in his bunker. 

So I ask you this. How can our government celebrate protests in Hong Kong and then consciously and cruelly claim not to care about those happening in America right now? 

By ignoring internal insecurities, Western nations are failing their own citizens. And by advocating for aggressive international measures, they weaken their standing on the global stage. Worse still, this hypocrisy conversely contributes to China’s capacity to act with impunity. 

China is far from perfect. But by pretending that Western powers are, we imperil any progress that can be made in protecting people and their personal freedoms. And it is in these freedoms that our response must be rooted. 

We should stand up for Hong Kong, not for private profits or transatlantic posturing, but to help protect the lives and liberties of its people. 

A cross-party call for an international contact group is a good place to start. If post-Brexit Britain is to move forward instead of back, then we have to collaborate constructively. We have to work with China and other countries – not against them.

Written by Chief Labour Writer, Evan Saunders

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‘In a slack and sloppy article, the Labour team managed to stumble to the right response, but for all the wrong reasons’ – a Liberal response

This article did make me smile. Mr Saunders always knows how to get you fired up, and I even felt myself falling for this act.

However, I think Mr Saunders really has missed the mark here. I am not calling back to the good old days of imperialism, but I am noting the importance of Western countries standing up for what they preach. I’m not saying the UK should roll tanks into Beijing, I’m asking for realistic action; negotiations. We are on the national security council and G7 because we have some influence. Unlike days of old where we helped ourselves, let’s help Hong Kong and by god we should.

Mr Saunders, what we need is action, and frankly, criticism is not the answer. I know you may disagree with my move to bring right and left together here, flirting with Brexiteers nationalist side to cause action, I apologise. However, the action is needed. Let’s work together to cause change, not bring each other down.

A final note on America; it has a lot to answer for. Mainly it was the reason I said we can’t call for our US allies at the moment; they have to deal with lack of freedom in their own country. However, that does not mean we should stand by and let freedom be taken by another country because we aren’t perfect.

Written by Liberal Writer, Max Anderson

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Our Government Now Has a Choice – a Conservative response

Mr Saunders raises a crucial point with which I agree: there needs to be a cross-party response, to attempt to preserve the freedoms of Hong Kong. However, it is also my view that solely “working with” China, is somewhat naïve. I highly doubt that China would grant the UK any favours, at the impediment of their own national agenda of consolidation.

The UK now has a choice. Sell-out Hong Kong for better relations with China, which may lead to some geopolitical and geoeconomic advantage. Or stand up to Xi Jinping and support Hong Kong in maintaining their rights, through pressure, not imperialism.

I have a feeling that Mr Johnson will posture for the latter, but, in reality, choose the former.

If we are to choose Hongkongese freedom, this is where I would lend support to Mr Anderson and his call for “negotiation”. To actually protect Hong Kong, and not merely signal our virtue and solidarity, we must put our money where our mouths are. In reality, negotiation will involve some antagonism, as well as cooperation. China is not an untouchable titan, it has some pressure points.

Furthermore, Mr Saunders’ assertion that “China is far from perfect” may just be one of the biggest understatements on this website. Needless to say, the one million Uighur Muslims currently being interned and ‘re-educated’, would corroborate that.

The United Kingdom is not a perfect country. Truthfully, a perfect country does not exist. However, the freedoms allowed in this country, and not in the PRC, should not be made light of. Self-critique is crucial for improvement, but abstract notions of historical guilt & self-loathing, cannot prevent us from helping in the present. If the freedoms afforded to Hong Kong are lost, they will not return.

Ultimately, it depends on what our government wants to protect more: relations with China, or the freedom of Hongkongers.

Written by Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis

Evan Saunders
Chief Labour political writer at | Website

I’m a third year University of Manchester student, currently studying in Lyon on my Erasmus year (by sheer coincidence I’m writing this hours after parliament has voted to end British involvement in the 30 year programme, so just to be on the safe side I promise not to use the NHS/European Declaration of Human Rights/anything at all anytime soon).

Max Anderson
Publisher/founder at | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

Alexander Dennis
Political writer | Website

Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.

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