Executive Councillor Ronny Tong has hit back at a US Congressional committee which accused Beijing of eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms through propaganda and the now-abandoned extradition bill. The report also accused the police of using excessive force.

Speaking on RTHK’s Letter to Hong Kong, Tong noted that the extradition legislation was an amendment to an existing law enacted by the British government before the handover. He also defended the police, saying their actions paled into insignificance compared to their counterparts in the US – and rejected the accusation that Beijing was eroding freedom here.

He said: “In this report, there is a chapter on Hong Kong and Macau where the Commission made no less than three ‘findings’ in relation to the recent events in Hong Kong. The Commission found: first, there is “further erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and fundamental freedoms under the ‘one country two systems’ framework” by reason of the proposed amendment to the Extradition Ordinance; secondly, the Hong Kong police had used ‘excessive force and inappropriately operated crowd-control equipment’; and thirdly, the Chinese Government had ’employed propaganda, disinformation and censorship in an apparent attempt to shape reporting on the Hong Kong protests’.

“The key accusation here, of course, is that Hong Kong’s autonomy and fundamental freedoms under the “one country two systems” had been ‘further eroded’,” he continued.

“How will an amendment to an existing law ‘erode’ Hong Kong’s constitutional system or the freedoms it protected? The report, of course, did not either mention or note that the existing extradition law was enacted by the British colonial government before Hong Kong’s handover and contained all the necessary legal safeguards….”

He said “the accusation that raises most eyebrows must be the so-called finding that the Chinese government had ’employed propaganda, disinformation and censorship in an apparent attempt to shape reporting on the Hong Kong protests’. Let’s face it, who does not do that nowadays? Most people would agree words can destabilise a country; but it is hard to see how words can ‘erode’ independence and autonomy of a place or country. If they can, a lot of places and countries are at risk, China and United States included”.

Tong said western media made virtually no attempt to report that an elderly person was stoned to death, another was burnt alive and the throat of a policeman was slit in an attempted murder by rioters.

He went on to say that “it is a fact of life in modern day politics for politicians and governments to resort to propaganda, disinformation and censorship” and that such actions are simply political talk.