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Donald Low weighs in on Hong Kong protests, advises against “an instinctive tendency of scapegoating and demonizing foreign devils”

“I'm quite astonished by seemingly intelligent people saying that the demonstrators in Hong Kong were instigated by foreigners and foreign agents to oppose the extradition bill,” said Donald Low

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Former Associate Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), Donald Low wrote a much shared post on Facebook about recent extradition protests that took place in Hong Kong.

The view he expressed was not one against the Chinese press and government, it was also one that opposed the sentiment that the Hong Kong protests were due to foreign interference and instigation.

In a Facebook post that he published on June 12, Donald Low wrote, “I’m quite astonished by seemingly intelligent people saying that the demonstrators in Hong Kong were instigated by foreigners and foreign agents to oppose the extradition bill”.

Low then went about proving his point with the following analogy: If you were asked by the Chinese authorities to demonstrate on the streets (in unpleasant weather) for a cause you don’t really believe in, would you do so?

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He then retorted that if one’s answer was no, why then should they be of the opinion that “hundreds of thousands Hongkongers would do so at the behest of American or whatever foreign agents? Because Hongkongers are unusually naive or stupid?”.

Low then proposed a different angle. He said, “Maybe your argument is a bit more sophisticated: that foreigners created a ideological, media, and cultural environment in Hong Kong that, in turn, made its people instinctively suspicious of China and distrustful of its authorities”.

I'm quite astonished by seemingly intelligent people saying that the demonstrators in Hong Kong were instigated by…

Posted by Donald Low on Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Answering his own question, Low said, “If that’s the argument, isn’t the real problem the fact that the Chinese system and its authoritarian proclivities are so unattractive to Hongkongers that even an America (or the west more generally) in supposed decline can wield more cultural and political influence in a predominantly Chinese society?

In that vein, he then added that if that was the case, then the problem was not with “imagined foreign agents”. The problem was because of those looking in from the outside, and the authoritarian system in China, which Hongkongers fear will be imposed on them as well.

The Former Associate Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy concluded his post by saying, “the idea that close to a million Hongkongers would demonstrate against it because of western propaganda is the sort of paranoid conspiratorial thinking that cognitive psychologists warn people against”.

Low’s Facebook post and sentiments were shared by almost 700 netizens. Many of those who commented on his page concurred with his thoughts. They said that the idea of blaming foreign interference was often used as a common scapegoat to evade blame themselves.

However, some others also suggested that Hong Kong should take a leaf out of Singapore’s book and implement laws against public protests so that there exists a measure of control in the country.

As Low said, “And for the nationalistic Chinese press to even suggest it belies a deep insecurity and an instinctive tendency (honed over several decades of blaming the West when things don’t go China’s way) of scapegoating and demonizing foreign devils”. /TISG

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