US State Dept Funding and Occupy Central, the Ties that Bind

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We Fully Support A People’s Movement In Hong Kong. As we explain further details about ‘Occupy Central’, it is the intention of this article to help the students and Hong Kongese people who are fighting for the future of Hong Kong make informed decisions on who they join in coalitions with and choose for Chief Executive when they achieve True Universal Sufferage.

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Occupy Centrals Benny Tai, consciousness overwhelmed after students attacked. Sept. 28th

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, with the promise of eventual universal suffrage. Until now, its chief executives — the top leadership post in Hong Kong — have been chosen by a largely pro-Beijing committee. A group of 689 people voted for Hong Kong’s current leader, CY Leung.

China’s communist leaders have said in the past that it will ‘allow’ Hong Kong’s residents to vote for the chief executive beginning in 2017, but in a “white paper” issued in June, Chinese leaders made clear that Beijing would retain control and allow only “Chinese patriots” to be nominated for the election.

Recently we have witnessed what on the surface appears to be a popular student uprising in Hong Kong demanding the right to long promised universal suffrage from Chinese rule.  We saw over 500,000 people take the streets on July 1st, just weeks after China’s communist leaders issued a “white paper” making it clear that Beijing would retain control and allow only “Chinese patriots” to be nominated for the Hong Kong Chief Executive election.  The massive rally was held near the end of a 10 day unofficial referendum organized by ‘Occupy Central’. This referendum project we find out was directly funded and implement by the far reaching arms of the US State Department, but more on that later. With more than 780,000 voting — over a fifth of Hong Kong voters — the referendum was declared a success by the Pro-Democracy movement and State department monitors.

In the middle of August we saw a group of around 1000 mostly lawyers and university students dressed in black and carrying large sheets of black cloth, march silently from one of Hong Kong’s most crowded commercial districts to the city’s financial center, the main site of protests today and where the Occupy Central organization had been planning to stage a sit-in protest in early October.

Leading up to the student sit-in outside the Central Government offices, that we still see today, was this march of students on the 24th of September.(below)

The above march would lead to a group of students climbing over the fence of the Central Government Offices Complex where they remained, facing arrest the entire time, unsupported by the elder’s of ‘Occupy Central’ for the next 2 days.

dataWe repeatedly asked the ‘Occupy Central’ twitter account to shed some light on why they were not there to support the students for the first few days. Here was our correspondence where they claim that all of the pro-democracy groups are a coalition. We asked in response, if there was a coalition, then why so much discontent among students when ‘Occupy Central’ showed up on the 27th and declared the action part of their scheduled ‘occupation’ on July 1st at the same location.  A level of discontent that should be noted, directly caused the majority of the students to leave in disgust who were surrounding the small group’s sit-in inside the Central Gov Offices grounds essentially keeping them safe. An exodus from the scene that not only led student organizers to actually cry and beg people to stay to help defend the sit-in, it also made Benny Tai repeatedly denounce his previous statement of OC’s occupation, declaring at that point, that OC was just there to support students, not lead or co-opt the student movement by pitching the idea of horizontal leadership be adopted.

 

As we watched the events unfold on the live stream it seemed from our experience like the end of this protest was near. It wasn’t until the remaining students began to be arrested and brutalized by police that the mass of students returned to save them.

We have tried to make this point especially clear, for two reasons. The first being, because this essentially all transpired before the international media spotlight was focused on the events in Hong Kong. Secondly, because after we explain further details about ‘Occupy Central’ it is the intention of this article to help the students whom we consider the future of Hong Kong, make informed decisions on who they join coalitions with and should they be successful in their struggle for true universal suffrage, to support a Chief Executive candidate without history or direct involvement with United States interests.

Hope for Hong Kong: a message from the Hong Kong Federation of Students

To All Hong Kong Citizens: A Vow Of Civil Disobedience – It is upon the sweat, blood and tears of our predecessors our bright avenue today is built. It is upon the sacrifice and vigor of our forerunners the civil disobedience movement is launched. The result of their unrelenting struggle is the freedom of expression we enjoy today. Throughout the class boycott last week, we Hong Kong people have demonstrated our pursuit for autonomy. We have witnessed an awakening among the local community, commoners, outside and within the system nurtured by precursors. The veterans of social movements have been most familiar with protestations of civil disobedience. Today, we bear the torch and continue the struggles for genuine democracy.

Students have paid a huge price for this honorable cause. In February, almost 15,000 students voted for the proposal firmly supporting civil nomination in the Chief Executive election. In 22 June Civil Referendum, amid ungrounded accusations from pro-Beijing camp, we rallied over 700,000 citizens in support for civil nomination. Soon in 1 July March, we initiated the sit-in at Chater Road, thus the first wave of civil disobedience movement. Thousands of participants successfully occupied the heart of Central District until the dawn among whom 511 were arrested.

Nevertheless, none of these could alter the totalitarian nature of the government. On 31 August, the National People’s Congress (NPC) resolved the following decisions on the political reform.
1) The composition of the nominating committee remains the same as the election committee, composed of the 1200 privileged class from four sectors.
2) Each candidate has to gain the support of at least half the nominating committee which means the minority of the nominating committee loses their right to nominate. Under such mechanism, none of the previous pan-democratic candidates Alan Leong and Albert Ho would qualify.

With such a decision NPC give a total disregard to our plea for democracy and rules out a genuine universal suffrage. Hong Kong’s 30-year long dream for democracy has been completely shattered. Yet, students will never, ever give in. On Monday, over 13,000 students attended the student strike; Thursday, 4,000 citizens joined the unauthorised rally to the Government House, the civil disobedience movement of the largest scale after the handover; Friday, despite pressures from school, family and the society, 1,500 secondary pupils joined in the strike. That night, in our Recapture Civic Square action, thousands of citizens surrounded the Central Government Offices to demand the rightful access to our public space.

From deliberation, referendum, then protests and rally, to disobedience and occupation, students have kindled the era for revolution. Yet, students boycotting classes can hardly interrupt the unjust authorities rule. Only the power of students cannot pull down the hard, high wall. We already initiated the boycott to stimulate non-cooperative movements from all sectors of the society. Our ONLY hope is that all Hongkongers now stand out, join in civil disobedience and force the rulers to bow. Let’s reclaim our Hong Kong.

And thus we reach out to all living souls: join the battle, and bear the responsibility of this era. Simply chanting slogans of ‘Support the Students’ and ‘Protect our Children’ is no longer enough. Fight your OWN battle for the place you love, where you belong! Support each other by you stepping into the battlefield! This movement requires participation from you all. Hope rests with the people, change starts with struggle. Whether we stand or fall depends on each of our participation. Now it is high time for each and every one in society to join hands and pull down the wall! –  HKFS  @HKFS1958 

Occupy Central – Follow the Money

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a U.S. non-profit soft power organization that was founded in 1983 to ‘promote’ democracy around the world. It is funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress, within the budget of USAID, the U.S. agency for development assistance, which is part of the U.S. State Department. Although administered as a private organization, its funding mostly comes from a governmental appropriation by Congress but was created by The Democracy Program as a bipartisan, private, non-profit corporation.  Quote from the NED website.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, with funding from the US Congress, NED supports more than 1,000 projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

USAID Hong Kong budget for 2012 was 754,552, in 2010 it was 1,591,547. Annual budgets for USAID projects in Hong Kong from 2008 to 2012 are available on the USAID website.

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In a Wikileaks Plus-D cable release dated September 4, 2008 from the American Consulate in Hong Kong to the Secretary of State offices of then Condelezza Rice, we find not only a glimpse into the constant monitoring of the Hong Kong population’s political views, but also another very significant arm of this State Department funded project, The Hong Kong Transition Project. 

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In a HKTP report from January 2014

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 When they say regularly in the statement above they mean every 3 months at minimum.

To document where the USAID Hong Kong fund is distributed we go to the NED website for annual reports. Among other funded projects we find in the 2009 report the $272,140 in funding for the National Democratic Institute and in the 2012 report another $460,000 for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Funds were stated to be for advancing the dialogue between citizens and political actors on constitutional reforms.

“Through sponsoring public forums and a political participation website (http://designdemocracy.hk/) NDI will support local civil society organizations to analyze and provide recommendations on the government’s proposal for constitutional reform.”

The website project directly funded by the US State Department through USAID grants to NED and NDI Is described on the NED website as  “The Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the University of Hong Kong, with support from NDI, is working to amplify citizens’ voices in that consultation process by creating Design Democracy Hong Kong (www.designdemocracy.hk), a unique and neutral website that gives citizens a place to discuss the future of Hong Kong’s electoral system.”

Benny Tai the leader of the group ‘Occupy Central’ is on the board for CCPL and a member of the academic staff on Hong Kong University.
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A quick click on the (www.designdemocracy.hk) website has Benny Tai and a slew of other public figures of the Pro-Democracy movement, which at a glance appears to encompass all of them, including Joshua Wong of Scholarism.

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To what extent is the US State Department directly involved. 

In another Wikileaks Plus-D cable we find China Program Director of NDI Christine Chung reports directly to the US State Department.  In part two of a cable dated May 4th 2006 from the American Consulate in Hong Kong to the Offices of the Secretary of State, Christine Chung reports the following.

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Another classified WikiLeaks Plus-D cable dated July 2, 2009 from the American Consulate in Hong Kong to the offices of the Secretary of State titled 
HONG KONG JULY 1 MARCH: HEAT HALVES HOPED-FOR HUNDRED THOUSAND. We see how the discussion is about the turn out of a demonstration and the how’s and why’s of what caused a lower than expected turn out and Intel on how to attain, from their perspective a more successful event in the future.

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In another classified WikiLeaks Cable dated Mon, 4 Jan 2010 from the American Consulate in Hong Kong to the offices of the Secretary of State titled Hong Kong January 1 Democracy Demonstration: One March, Four Causes they describe how they feel the focus of the march was to broad to be effective for their interests and how to counter that in the future. Many more examples like these are available on the WikiLeaks site.

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One of the above mentioned groups, Civic Exchange, received $45,000 from NED in 2005.

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What is the Hong Kong Transition Project doing? A better question would be, what are they not doing?

The Hong Kong Transition project has been actively monitoring the political attitude of voting and non voting citizens of Hong Kong in every way they can think of it seems since 1997. The well prepared reports on their website encompass everything from every three month, demographically targeted Hong Kongese voter phone polling campaigns to the in-depth study on the various age ranges of Hong Kongese psychological attitudes on all aspects of current political topics, with the obvious goal of delivering the gathered intelligence to US State Dept for the basis of strategizing future endeavors.

Reports ranging from Protest & Post-80s Youth 2010

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Occupy Central Briefing Jan 2014.pdf Jan 2014

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In our search for information regarding the Scholarism group and Joshua Wong we found that NDI has been monitoring Schlorism Founder and Student Movement leader Joshua Wong’s activities at least since he was 15.

There is also “student leader” Joshua Wong, who was arrested amid the protests. Wong has had his career tracked by the NDI’s “NDItech” project since as early as 2012. In a post titled, “In Hong Kong, Does “Change Begin with a Single Step”?,” NDI reports:

Scholarism founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung, 15, has become an icon of the movement, and his skillful interactions with media have been memorialized and disseminated on Youtube. Through this page, Hong Kong youth have coalesced around common messages and images – for example, equating MNE with “brainwashing” and echoing themes reminiscent of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

Wong’s work serves to challenge attempts by Beijing to reestablish Chinese institutions on the island, preserving Western-style (and co-opted) institutions including the education system

For anyone deeply involved in the Umbrella Movement and journalists the world over we highly urge you to use this article as a stepping stone to finding more information, because despite the depth of the material we gathered above, we have barely even scratched the surface on bringing the entire situation into the light. The US involvement in Hong Kong’s political atmosphere is a decades long project and Hong Kong is most certainly not the only ‘hot spot’ we stumbled upon.

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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News - Contact us with inquiries, tips, corrections at - revnewsmedia@gmail.com