For Joshua Wong, The Coronavirus is About Decoupling Hong Kong from China

Yesterday secretary-general of the Hong Kong group Demosisto heralded the arrival of “1,200,000 masks” purchased by his group to the people of the city. In announcing the procurement, the activist proceeded to criticize the city’s government in their handling of the Coronavirus outbreak which originated in Wuhan on the mainland, describing the special administrative region authority as a “failed state”, proclaiming that “we cannot rely on them to save us”.

In making these points, Wong further claimed that the city’s response to the outbreak was further “evidence” that its autonomy was being eroded by Beijing, linking these allegations with demands that the region’s border with mainland China be closed altogether. Although the Hong Kong government has since closed a number of border points and imposed a mandatory 14 day quarantine on anyone incoming from China proper, apparently this isn’t enough.

The politicization of the Coronavirus situation by Wong and related Hong Kong activists is quite obvious. Whilst they claim they are acting within the best interests of people within the city, it is difficult to conceal the more obvious intention that they are using the crisis to push for “decoupling” between the city and the mainland in a way which comes across as unreasonable. In doing so, they are set on attacking the authorities regardless as to whatever response they take if it is short of total separation, with a goal of spurring up further opposition and unrest.

Although Wong spoke of the case of Dr. Li wenliang and his death from the Coronavirus, which drew criticism throughout China for the attempts of Wuhan authorities to silence him, his lack of compassion and solidarity for people on the mainland over the outbreak has been obvious. In several tweets, Wong has mocked the name of the virus and played upon it having originated in China. He further scapegoated Chinese merchants for exhausting local supplies of masks without evidence.

Instead, in each instance his focus has been exclusively on Hong Kong itself and the answer to every problem has to been not to offer support to those suffering in the mainland, but to demand more separation from it and disingenuously claim any failure to do so is an infringement on Hong Kong’s autonomy. This of course, is deeply dishonest. To claim that a failure to shut down the borders in entirety is somehow a violation of the Basic Law is cynical and opportunistic.

It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with geography. As a densely populated peninsula and cluster of islands off the coast of mainland China, Hong Kong is deeply reliant upon the mainland for food, supplies and a whole wide range of resources which cannot be established locally in the hilly and dense urban environment of the territory. It has been this way even when it was a colony of the British Empire. Thus there is a practical reality at hand that when borders are closed, supply shortages emerge and given the recent fiasco of Toilet Roll bandits in Mong Kok it goes to show. Yet, according to Josh et all this is the sensible course of action to take because it involves enforcing separation from China.

In doing so, Joshua Wong’s outrageous claim that Chinese merchants exhausted local mask supplies, which plays upon local prejudices of mainlanders and that the effort to outsource masks all the way from the Americas (Honduras) is an obvious attempt to (ambitiously) push “decoupling” between Hong Kong and China. It is true of course that masks are in short supply throughout the city, but that isn’t the real goal behind this spectacular stunt. Instead, the Demosisto purchase is tailored to send the message “We don’t need China, Hong Kong can do this on our own!” therefore it is okay to “push for separation”.

Thus in every case these actions do not really allude to anybody’s well-being in the wake of the Coronavirus it smacks of pure politics, clear and simple. For Wong and co this crisis is an opportunity and they have stretched it to the maximum in the bid to demonize the mainland, whip up fear and score points. He and related figures don’t care about the people suffering in Wuhan, only their own agenda. Whilst it obviously won’t work as things will eventually return to normal, it should be an eyeopener to the western commentariat who continue to sing Josh’s praises, what he really is out to achieve.