Pro-Beijing newspapers have accused Hong Kong democracy activists of betraying the “Chinese race” by “inviting the US government to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.”

The attacks came after former colonial governor Chris Patten, pro-democracy figures Martin Lee, Joshua Wong and Lam Wing-kee, and writer Ellen Bork gave testimonies on Wednesday in relation to Hong Kong’s political situation at the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Beijing mouthpiece Ta Kung Pao called Lee and Wong “old and young race traitors” on Thursday’s front page. “Various sectors of society restate that the US should not comment on the affairs of other territories,” the paper wrote.

It also ran an anonymous commentary calling Wong “ignorant and ugly.” It said: “It is obvious that Americans are using Wong to attack the One Country, Two Systems policy and the central government, but he is happy about his role as a political clown manipulated by others.”

Meanwhile, the Global Times wrote: “Hong Kong independence advocate Joshua Wong has been condemned as a race traitor after defaming the One Country, Two Systems policy in the US and begging for attention from the US government.”

The two papers, as well as Oriental Daily, all criticised the activists of “badmouthing” Hong Kong in front of the international community.

Joshua Wong (L), Martin Lee (R) in Washington DC. Photo: Joshua Wong, via Facebook.

‘Blame myself’

Chris Patten hit back at Beijing’s consistent argument against foreign interference in Hong Kong.

He cited the bilateral Sino-British Joint Declaration, which guaranteed semi-autonomy to Hong Kong for 50 years. “China is supposed to keep its word to the people of Hong Kong, and Britain has every right to interfere in that,” he said during Wednesday’s hearing.

He also criticised the British government for not being “very robust in drawing attention to breaches – whether large or small – in the undertakings of both the letter and spirit made by China.”

“I’ve always felt that we – and I blame myself a bit, but I blame [the] British government over a long period of time – I’ve always felt we let down the generation before Joshua Wong,” the former governor said. “And I hope we won’t let down Joshua Wong’s generation as well.”

Chris Patten. File Photo: HKFP.

Wong, meanwhile, urged US democrats and republicans to work together to defend human rights in Hong Kong. He vowed that Hongkongers will continue resisting rule by the Chinese Communist Party and fighting for the right of self-determination.

“The Father of Hong Kong’s democracy, Martin Lee, is turning 79 years old this year, after four decades of struggle,” the 20-year-old activist said. “I wonder, if I come to the age of 79, will I be able to see democracy?”

‘Failed authoritarianism’

During the hearing, US Senator Marco Rubio alleged that Beijing consistently infringed on Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms guaranteed by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

“We cannot allow Hong Kong to go the way of Beijing’s failed authoritarianism and one-party rule,” Rubio said. “Hong Kong’s future, indeed its destiny, must not be sidelined.”

Marco Rubio and Joshua Wong. Photo: Jeffrey Ngo.

He promised that the US Congress will be “closely watching” Beijing’s handling of the 20th anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, and whether Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam will reintroduce the controversial Article 23 anti-subversion law.

In March, Rubio and his co-chair of the commission Christopher Smith spoke up against Beijing’s “clear interference” in Hong Kong’s leadership race. It warned that the special status enjoyed by Hong Kong under US law may be reassessed if the situation deteriorates.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.