Even as Washington designated the Chinese media as a hostile foreign agent, its own propaganda agency was funneling money to the Hong Kong protesters. In a fitting twist, this was revealed by partisan leakers with an ax to grind.
“US has been exposed for funding last year’s Hong Kong protests,” declared columnist Alex Lo in the South China Morning Post on Thursday. Lo brings up the revelation that one of the subsidiaries of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) had to freeze an estimated $2 million worth of contracts aimed at helping anti-Beijing activists in the southern Chinese city.
The source for this is a recent Time magazine article, relying mainly on anonymous USAGM officials upset about the overhaul implemented by the agency’s new head, Michael Pack, an appointee of President Donald Trump, confirmed by the Senate in early June.
The contracts in question were run through the Open Technology Fund, officially an NGO that funds “open-source internet freedom projects” such as the encrypted-messaging app Signal. All of its funding comes from Congress, just like the National Endowment for Democracy, which spent around $643,000 to “foster civil society” in Hong Kong last year.
Given that whoever pays the piper calls the tune, Beijing sees this as direct US meddling in the unrest in Hong Kong – a territory ruled by the British for over a century before being handed back to China in 1997. The city erupted in protests last spring, over a law that would allow extraditions to the mainland. When demonstrators began waving US and British flags, meeting with US diplomats and getting aid from ‘NGOs,’ they gave China a perfect excuse to pass a new security law.
Now imagine the US reaction if Chinese ‘nonprofits’ funded entirely by the government were funneling money to ‘human-rights’ programs in the US, or Black Lives Matter, or Antifa, or any of the groups going around smashing monuments and torching shops across America over the past month. You wouldn’t have to try very hard, given the actual US crackdown on Chinese phone companies such as Huawei and ZTE Corporation, or the State Department designation of several Chinese media outlets as “foreign missions,” accused of engaging in “propaganda” and not journalism.
To China, this rightly looks like a double standard. Most Americans, however, don’t think twice about it. Of course, the US is allowed to do anything it pleases anywhere it wants, from ‘helping democracy’ via color revolutions to ‘humanitarian’ bombing. It’s the exceptional nation, the greatest country in the world, and so on. Even the activists who condemn it as irredeemably racist and in need of revolution at home, generally have no beef with Washington’s meddlesome foreign policy abroad. How else can one explain the recent political marriage of Democrats and neoconservatives, aimed against Trump?
As part of the campaign by this axis and its media allies, for the past four years, the US mainstream media has incessantly hyped the narrative of ‘Russian meddling’ in ‘our democracy,’ based on evidence-free conspiracy theories and wishful thinking.
Media outlets such as RT figured prominently in this propaganda, with fully a third of the infamous Intelligence Community Assessment of January 2017 – which kicked off the Russiagate madness – dedicated to RT programming. Never mind that it dated back to 2012 and was therefore both obsolete and irrelevant; that wasn’t allowed to get in the way of a good story.
Yet it’s Washington that’s actually meddling, and in places like Hong Kong. In that light, the narratives about ‘Russian’ and ‘Chinese’ interference in the US certainly appear to be a massive case of psychological projection. Perhaps the groups seeking meaningful change in this country ought to address that first.
By Nebojsa Malic