The first article addresses the sedition law the People's Congress passed in May, 2020.
The second article addresses the Extradition Bill that was submitted last year.
Bizarre History: Which One is Really the Evil Incident?
They converge on the capitol, almost 50,000 strong, men, women, children. They state their demands, but receive no assurances. Instead, they are given warnings to disperse. Over a period of several days there is a standoff—statements of demands, warnings to disperse. Then it happens. In come the tanks, the machine guns, the army. The protesters are routed out of the capitol, their remaining makeshift shelters and belongings burned and destroyed. Deaths and injuries are inflicted, and the government quickly moves to erase the event from the history books.
This was not in China. This is a general description of what happened to the Bonus Army in the United States in 1932. The demands? A request that the government prematurely cash in the World War One veteran’s war bonds so that the unemployed veterans could buy food to feed their families.
This was not the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests, but was a real incident in U.S. history, the U.S.’s own version of Tiananmen. 17,000 WWI veterans, together with their families and supporters had camped out on the lawn outside the capitol in Washington, D.C. and pleaded for assistance during the Great Depression. Only two deaths were documented from the immediate incident; numerous injuries were reported, including one boy having been blinded. There are no follow-up studies to determine how many later died due to poor health as a consequence of inadequate food or housing, or how many suicides related to the difficulties might have occurred.
Now let’s do something that is officially not allowed in China: let’s examine what the Tiananmen Square protest was about.
Chinese protesters wanted democracy, not the kind of democracy that already existed in China, but the U.S. kind of democracy. The protesters, many of them students, wanted to be able to not only criticize their government; they wanted to replace their government with a different system of governance. Before addressing China’s response, let’s understand what the U.S. has to say about people trying to replace the government system:
In the U.S., there is a clear distinction between free speech and speech and actions of insurrection and sedition; they are not equivalent forms of expression. There is no government that is likely to permit expressions of seditious intent, and none will offer no protection for such speech. Here are three of the laws stipulated in the U.S. Code that currently have effect in the U.S. that explicitly provide this distinction:
18 U.S. Code § 2383.Rebellion or insurrection
“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
18 U.S. Code § 2384.Seditious conspiracy
“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”
18 U.S. Code § 2385.Advocating overthrow of Government
“Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or...”
The Tiananmen protesters were calling for the overturning of the Chinese government; by the U.S. definitions, their actions may be labeled as acts of seditious conspiracy and insurrection, which is not protected free speech.
So What’s the Difference between the U.S. Response and China’s Response?
After the Bonus Army rout, the U.S. public outcry against President Hoover was sufficient to replace him in the next election with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Even Roosevelt hesitated to provide the veterans with their well-earned bonus pay, but ultimately gave in due to another smaller, shorter lived but more successful march on Washington D.C.
China, on the other hand, was still emerging as a modern unified nation, and was still dealing with outside pressures to yield to capitalist principles. Deng Xiaopeng, in his black cat / white cat wisdom, had yielded only to the principle of privatization, but within the framework of centralized regulation, “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” The 1989 protesters would not listen to or accept the arguments that China was ardently rebuilding not only the infrastructure, but also the rules of law that have since led to the freedoms and opportunities the Chinese nation enjoys today. Deng gave the protesters four days of warnings to disperse; when ignored, the army was called into action to quell the insurrection.
Contrast of Intent
The U.S. government failed in its responsibility as stated in its Preamble to the Constitution, “…to insure domestic Tranquility, …promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…”.
In contrast, the Chinese government’s actions against the Tiananmen Square insurrection addressed the idea as stated in its Constitution’s Preamble that “…the exploiting class, as a class, has been eliminated, but class struggle will continue to exist within a certain scope for a long time to come. The people of China must fight against those domestic and foreign forces and elements that are hostile to and undermine our country’s socialist system.”
Its response helped China in continuing to fulfill its responsibility “…to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful, and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
The Great Question: Which was Good; Which was Bad?
Here is the question we must face: One action was against the people of a nation; the other was in support of the people of a nation. Which action was good; which action was bad?
Don “Orfeo” Rechtman
2020 June 2, 2020
I’m a U.S. citizen residing in Shenzhen. China has been unreasonably tolerant of me and other U.S. citizens by allowing us to enjoy the many benefits of China: the people, the culture, the land, the government.
When one considers the blatant human rights violations repeatedly being committed by the U.S. government, it is beyond hypocritical for it to condemn the Chinese government defending against the terrorists in Hong Kong and to do it in the name of human rights.
The U.S. is a failed democracy: the people are not represented by the elected; it is business that is represented, and business that buys the votes. Is this really the model the rioting students want for their city?
Several facts to consider: HK had no democracy under British occupation. It was Beijing that set up the democratic process, as that is what it has established for all other Chinese communities. The difference in the Chinese system is that national and international affairs are managed by the central government, and the representatives are an elite body (usually referred to as the “Party”) of people who are required to be dedicated to discovering and meeting the needs of the people. Within their ranks democracy also rules.
I am not saying that China does not have problems. It does, and some are quite serious. But China is also aware of this and is striving to fix the problems. Don't forget that virtually everything China has accomplished in building itself into the world's second largest economy was accomplished in just 40 years (post Cultural Revolution, beginning with the guidance of Deng Xiaopeng). There is still more to fix, but China is committed to fixing it. The problems happen to be the same as those of the U.S.; the notable difference is that they're being addressed by China, and are largely being ignored by the U.S.
Xi Jinping did not initiate the idea of having his terms unlimited. When it was time for the Congress to choose a replacement president, they could not find one they considered as effective as Xi, and the Congress asked Xi if he would be willing to serve an additional term; Xi agreed, and the Congress amended the Constitution to allow his continuation in office. What the time is right and the right person is found, Xi will step down and the process will continue.
Has anyone actually read the Extradition Bill? I have, and it would have expanded HK’s authority in matters of extradition to the mainland and to other countries. It outlines three explicit criteria: first, the crime under consideration must be a crime in HK as well as in the country or in the mainland that is requesting the extradition; second, it must be a crime defined as punishable by up to three years or more incarceration, and third, the HK government would have the authority to refuse any extradition, even if the other two criteria are met.
My greatest fear is that Trump might do something even more foolish than a trade war or a rhetoric war; he has the real potential of starting a military war. The U.S. has a long history of setting up faked scenarios (Bay of Tonkin; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Muslim Filipinos who were defending themselves after being cornered; the Alamo) to justify unilateral invasions of other sovereign nations. With all the trouble he’s currently in, it would not be impossible for him to use HK as a ruse to do anything up to and including an outright invasion of China. My problem is that I’m on China’s side, and I don’t want to be arrested or kicked out because of someone else doing something stupid, like signing a resolution condemning Beijing’s handling of HK.
I’ve requested several times to be able to talk to the students; I think it would be useful for them to hear from U.S. citizens who are actually familiar with some of the history and governmental structures of HK, England, and the U.S., who do not buy into the false rhetoric the U.S. government is espousing on behalf of business rather than for the people.